Although they have both been to many All-Star games in addition to leading their clubs to successive postseason appearances, neither has been rated high in this winter’s free agent market. Outfielder Jose Bautista and second baseman Brandon Phillips could very well write some intriguing stories, considering teams that have indicated at least a modicum of interest in them.
The Rangers are looking to add some power from the designated hot spot, which is currently in the hands of left-handed Shin soo Choo. Bautista would serve as a great platoon with Choo, while also providing a threat of right-hand power in the middle of the lineup.
Due to the team’s dire need for an additional slugger, José Bautista could likely sign with Texas, which would be a controversial transaction. It was against Texas two years ago that Bautista became embroiled in a fight with one of his fan favorites, resulting in suspensions for both Bautista and Rangers second baseman Roughned Odor.
Since that uproar, it hasn’t been surprising that Bautista is received rudely every time he steps up to the plate in Texas. It’s also not surprising that a fellow free agent has received equally unpleasant reactions from the home of a rival team in the National League.
Brandon Philips could be found in St. Louis, whose fans have been booing him for nearly a decade after his confrontation with future Hall of Fame receiver Yadier Molina. It was in 2011 that Phillips, assuming the spot as Cincinnati’s lead hitter, tapped Molina’s shin and immediately both benches were emptied.
With the Cardinals seeking safety at second base, as well as veteran competition for Kolten Wong, St. Louis could chase Phillips. Once the long-term solution is considered second, Wong has struggled for the past two seasons. Competing for playing time against a Gold Glove veteran like Phillips could ignite a spark in Wong.
Despite the long-standing animosity between Phillips and the fans in St. Louis, he would bring a much-needed veteran voice to the center of the Cardinals’ infield. Due to his willingness to play third base last season with the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels, Phillips could also provide depth in the hot corner of St. Louis.
Such signings would be considered under the radar, given that both players are in the twilight of their careers. Still, Bautista and Phillips could really improve their respective teams and hopefully put an end to hostile greetings from those fans.