Report: Nationals have inquired about Bautista

Mark L. Baer / USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals' primary focus is on the bullpen heading into the non-waiver trade deadline, though general manager Mike Rizzo appears to be eyeing some outfield offense as well.

Rizzo has reportedly inquired about Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, sources told Barry Svrluga of The Washington Post, though Svrluga acknowledges that a trade for the six-time All-Star seems unlikely.

Bautista has spent the past nine seasons in Toronto and owns 10-and-5 rights which allows him to block any trade. The 35-year-old is a key piece to the Blue Jays' lineup but is a free agent at the end of the season. If Toronto's front office had any motivation to move Bautista, it would be to seek some return, rather than seeing him potentially walk this winter while receiving only a compensation draft pick for signing elsewhere.

It was reported this spring that Bautista is seeking a deal in the range of $150 million over five years, though a down season and injury concerns may have diminished some of his value. He's hitting .227/.361/.446 with 12 home runs and 15 doubles in 67 games and returned from a month-long trip to the disabled list Monday with turf toe.

Without the luxury of the designated hitter, the Nationals would have to get creative in how they would potentially fit Bautista into the lineup. They could slide Bryce Harper to center - a position he played in 13 games last season - in order to accommodate Bautista, whose defense limitations make him almost exclusively a right fielder. Moving Harper, however, also seems unlikely.

Rizzo and Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins have already consummated one deal with one another. They swapped outfielder Ben Revere for reliever Drew Storen in January.

The Nationals entered Wednesday with a four-game lead in the National League East despite their outfielders ranking 13th in home runs, 21st in slugging, and 28th in average this season.

Report: Nationals have inquired about Bautista
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