On Tuesday, Jose Bautista joined his third National League East team this season when he was traded by the New York Mets to the Philadelphia Phillies, who had claimed him on waivers yesterday. The Mets will acquire a player to be named later, and the Phillies will, obviously, take on the remainder of his salary, which is simply the pro-rated version of the league minimum. Mark Leiter was designated for assignment by the Phillies to accommodate Bautista on the 40-man roster.
My expectation would be for Bautista to serve as an additional power hitter off of the bench down the stretch while providing veteran and playoff experience in the clubhouse. The 37-year-old has been roughly league average this season, batting .196/.339/.364 with 11 home runs and a stellar 56:96 walk-to-strikeout ratio. I wouldn’t consider Bautista to be a great “fit,” per se, as the Phillies already have a lot of defensively limited power hitters with Carlos Santana, Rhys Hoskins, and recent acquisition Justin Bour, but at the end of the day, it isn’t likely to cost them much more than an inconsequential amount of money, a low minor league warm body, and possibly Leiter, so it is a worthwhile addition. Especially seeing as how they can make 25-man roster accommodations for the last three days in August.
As for the Mets, this move won’t do much more than open a roster spot that could allow for a non-roster September call-up. At the end of the day, the Mets brass decided that they were better off getting a player to be named later and some salary relief for Bautista as opposed to letting him go for nothing.
As for Leiter, he is in DFA limbo. The son of former big leaguer Mark Leiter and nephew of Al Leiter, Mark has seen major league action over the past two seasons typically serving as a swing-man. He has struggled to a 5.03 ERA over 107.2 innings pitched, with an even worse 5.45 FIP. The biggest issue for Leiter has always been his tendency to allow a significant amount of home runs, with a ghastly 1.9 HR/9 in the major leagues. Otherwise, his control has been rather pedestrian, but he has shown enough of an ability to throw strikes it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if he ever were to post stronger numbers in that department. He has a solid arsenal of pitches, but he’s destined to be depth unless he can get the long ball under control.