Braves cut ties with former Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista
Struggles defensively at 3rd base, .143 average led to 37-year-old's release
Jose Bautista is looking for work again.
Signed by former Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos in April, the former Toronto slugger was released by the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.
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Anthopoulos said Bautista would look for a job elsewhere but has a standing offer from the Braves to return to triple-A Gwinnett to get at-bats.
Bautista, who signed a minor league deal with Atlanta in April, struggled defensively at third base with the big club and posted a .143 batting average, two home runs and a .250 on-base percentage in 12 games. He also struck out 12 times in 35 at-bats.
"We agreed, for him, if there wasn't going to be at-bats here and there wasn't going to be playing time here, that it was not right for him," Anthopolous said Sunday.
Signing the 37-year-old former outfielder — Bautista received $1 million US for being added to the 40-man major league roster — was a low-risk move by the Braves, who were using Ryan Flaherty and Johan Camargo primarily at third base before Bautista's arrival. Camargo will now get the bulk of playing time, according to Anthopoulos.
Bautista went unsigned over the winter after hitting .203 in 157 games last season in Toronto with 23 home runs and 63 runs batted in while making $18 million on a one-year contract.
A six-time all-star, Bautista hit at least 22 homers in each of the previous eight seasons, including a career-high 54 for the Blue Jays in 2010. He also reached the 100-RBI mark four times.
Camargo, a 24-year-old switch-hitter from Panama, was the front-runner to win the job in spring training before suffering an oblique (rib cage) injury that sidelined him for the first 16 games.
Camargo has a .284 career average with six homers and 40 RBIs in 106 games. He filled in at shortstop and didn't hit that well when Dansby Swanson missed 13 games with left wrist inflammation, but he is hitting .292 in his last 24 at-bats and is an upgrade defensively over Bautista.
"If you look at the surface stats — when Dansby was out they weren't all that good — the more that we looked at some things, there were some really good indicators that he might be able to perform a lot better than that," Anthopolous said. "Some exit velocities, bad luck and things like that. Some of the decision making was very good on his part."
The Braves recalled right-hander Lucas Sims from Gwinnett to replace Bautista on the roster.
With files from The Associated Press