Agent: Bautista willing to move to infield, left field
As far as Jose Bautista is concerned, he's more than just a right fielder and designated hitter.
The free-agent slugger has primarily been a right fielder since 2010, but Bautista is displaying an open mind when it comes to his place on defense. Now, he's apparently willing to accept a position change when he signs, his agent Jay Alou told Jon Morosi of MLB Network. Alou said his client is open to shifting to left field or an infield position.
"Jose will play anywhere, or hit anywhere, if it helps the team win," Alou told Morosi.
Shifting positions would be nothing new for Bautista, who began his career as a utility player and spent time at multiple positions on the diamond; during his early days in Pittsburgh, he played primarily at third base. It was only when he broke out as a 54-home run hitter with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010 that he shifted to right field full time, though he still played 48 games at the hot corner that year.
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Though known for his rocket of a throwing arm in right, Bautista's defense has taken a hit over the last two years. Among right fielders with at least 700 innings at the position in 2016, the 36-year-old accumulated minus-9.6 defensive WAR, per Fangraphs, the fifth-lowest at the position; his minus-8 defensive runs saved only ranked above four other right fielders.
After battling fielding woes and injuries in 2016, it's possible Bautista's future in the field - if he doesn't transition to a full-time DH - lies at first base, where he's played just 27 career games and only three innings since 2014.
Bautista, a free agent for the first time in his career, is coming off an injury-marred campaign with the Blue Jays. Earlier Wednesday, Alou said that his client would like to return to Toronto, where he's made six All-Star appearances over his nine years with the team.