Toronto Blue Jays: Jose Bautista Lands on DL, What’s Next?

Photo Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Photo Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /

Jose Bautista has been placed on the DL with a knee sprain. What will the Toronto Blue Jays do to replace the slugging corner outfielder?

The Toronto Blue Jays sit first place in the American League East and look for another playoff run in 2016, but it may come harder than expected with news that outfielder Jose Bautista has been placed on the disabled list.

Bautista sprained his left knee in Tuesday’s loss and landed on the DL for the second time this season, with the last one coming in mid-June.

Fresh off a 40 home run season, the 35-year-old corner outfielder has struggled in his 80 games thus far, batting a mediocre .222 with 15 home runs and 48 RBI. He was not named to an All-Star team for the first time since his breakout performance in 2010.

Bautista is a free agent at year’s end and will look to have a bounce back performance once healthy. While Bautista has not performed well to date, his veteran presence and ability to change the outcome of the game with one quick swing is undeniably valuable.

Toronto sits at 54-50, tied for first in the AL East with the Baltimore Orioles. The team is 5-5 over their last 10; losing a player like Bautista is a huge blow to an offensive powerhouse of a lineup featuring the likes of Edwin Encarnacion, reigning MVP Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki.

Now that Bautista is out for the foreseeable future, Toronto must figure out how to replace the right fielder.

One option could be looking towards newly-DFA’d Carlos Gomez. The Houston Astros will likely attempt to trade the centerfielder (placing him on trade waivers) rather than outright releasing him. Enter Toronto.

Gomez is in the last year of his contract and Toronto could likely get him at a very cheap price. While he has shown multiple signs of immaturity and struggled this year, Gomez has proven to be a reliable bat and active on the base paths (.284 average with 23 HR, 34 SB in 2014).

A new change of scenery may be just what the doctor ordered for Gomez, and if that’s the case, Toronto adding him could be the difference between an early playoff exit and a World Series appearance.

While Gomez would just be a utility bat come playoff time (Kevin Pillar, Bautista, Michael Saunders in outfield), a pinch hitter/runner in late game situations is invaluable. Plus, with Pillar and Bautista on the DL, another reliable bat in the outfield would be a nice safety cushion.

However, the New York Mets are reportedly interested in Gomez (other teams on the brink of playoffs will likely follow), making it much more unlikely that Gomez will pass through trade waivers, if placed on them.

Another option to replace Bautista could be staying in-house and using a handful of players based on day-to-day matchups.

For instance, on the first day without Bautista, Darwin Barney started in left and Saunders moved to right. The team could move Saunders to right, Chris Colabello to left and Justin Smoak to first, or just play Ezequiel Carrera in right.

This move is much safer (Gomez is a hot-head) and the team does not have to trade away anything nor pay anything extra to replace Bautista until he returns. However, Gomez’s bat and speed is better than the in-house replacement options and could be a huge reward if the move pays off.

Next: Houston Astros DFA Carlos Gomez

Whatever the team decides to do, Bautista will likely return in a few weeks and be a huge factor in the difference between winning the AL East and sliding by with a Wild Card spot.