Blue Jays Land Bautista

Bucs deal out-of-favor third baseman for young catcher




The Deal
The Pirates traded deposed third baseman Jose Bautista to the Blue Jays for Triple-A catcher Robinzon Diaz.

Pittsburgh installed 24-year-old rookie Andy LaRoche at third base after acquiring him at the trading deadline, a move that relegated Bautista initially to a bench role, then to Triple-A and, finally, to another organization.
The Big Leaguer
Bautista, 27, provided adequate offensive production in his three seasons as the Pirates' mostly-regular third baseman. He also saw time at all three outfield spots, mostly in 2006. But with LaRoche in front of him, 22-year-old Neil Walker at Triple-A and 2008 second-overall pick Pedro Alvarez entering the system, Bautista's days with the organization appeared to be numbered. In fact, the Pirates optioned him to Triple-A Indianapolis on Aug. 13. The .242/.325/.404 Bautista had batted through 314 at-bats this season is in line with his career production, which stood at .240/.328/.397 with 43 home runs and 161 RBIs through 1,362 at-bats. No better than an average defender at third base, the righthanded hitter has performed much better against lefties for his career, sporting .257/.360/.453 averages.

Originally a Pirates' 20th-round draft-and-follow from 2000, Bautista is no stranger to being traded. This most recent exchange marks the fourth time he's been dealt in seven pro seasons. He also has been claimed on waivers and taken in the major league Rule 5 draft, making him a true transactions hero. In 2004 alone, Bautista played for four different major league teams—and was fleetingly the property of a fifth—all in the span of two months. He entered the season an Oriole (they Rule 5'ed him the previous winter), but was claimed on waivers by the Devil Rays on June 3. In a cash transaction, Tampa Bay traded him on June 28 to the Royals, who flipped him to the Mets on July 30 to acquire Justin Huber. Bautista never suited up for the Mets, though, as he was acquired solely to be packaged that same day in a deal with the Pirates, his fifth and final club, for Kris Benson.

The Prospect
Diaz, 24, was batting .244/.266/.336 in 131 at-bats for Triple-A Syracuse. A sprained right ankle kept Diaz on the disabled list from May 3 through July 16, accounting for his 19 games played in the Gulf Coast and Florida State leagues. A high-contact batter who rarely strikes out or walks, Diaz has exceptional hand-eye coordination (.303 career average) but little power because of his inside-out hitting approach. With loose actions and average arm strength, he gets good cary on his throws, but he remains a below-average game-caller. 
Quick Take
Bautista figures to see plenty of time at third base for the Blue Jays, who are playing without injured regular Scott Rolen for the rest of August. Perhaps a bit over-taxed as a regular, Bautista could fit as a reserve or semi-regular at third base and the outfield corners, especially when spotted against lefties.

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