Since the waiver period opened nearly four weeks ago, the Phillies have been aggressive about claiming players. Two of those claims actually resulted in trades for first baseman Justin Bour and lefty reliever Luis Avilan. Many others only sparked conversations that went nowhere.
It wasn't surprising, then, that the Phillies claimed Jose Bautista on revocable waivers from the New York Mets on Monday, a league source confirmed. But fitting the 37-year-old slugger for red pinstripes might prove more challenging.
First, the Phillies must work out a trade with the Mets by Tuesday. And because Bautista is owed only a prorated portion of the major-league minimum salary, the Mets are looking to extract talent in return. The Phillies are unlikely to part with a top prospect in exchange for a player they will control for only the final month of the regular season and the playoffs — if they make it that far.
There's also the issue of clearing a spot on the 40-man roster. The Phillies are at capacity, and given their intention to activate righthander Jerad Eickhoff and utility infielder Pedro Florimon from the 60-day disabled list once active rosters can expand on Sept. 1, they will already need to open two 40-man spots.
But the Phillies' interest in Bautista makes sense nonetheless. He would likely fit as a righthanded bat off the bench, and although his power is not nearly as fearsome as it was during his seven-year peak with the Toronto Blue Jays when he averaged 36 homers and a .542 slugging percentage per season, he would provide manager Gabe Kapler with another late-inning option to help win a game. In a tight race for the National League East, one swing could make a difference.
Bautista was in the Mets' starting lineup Monday night in Chicago, a likely sign that a trade was not imminent.
"We're not there yet," Kapler said of any potential deal. "He's a really good player. That's about it."
Entering Monday's game, Bautista was batting .207 with a .352 on-base percentage and nine home runs in 298 at-bats for the Mets, for whom he has started at least one game at four positions (right field, left field, third base and first base). He began the season with the Atlanta Braves and batted .143 with a .250 on-base percentage and two homers in 40 at-bats before getting released in May.
League rules prohibit team executives from discussing players on other teams. Asked if he expected to make a trade before Friday's deadline to add players who will be eligible for the postseason, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said it's "tough to handicap."
"It's possible," he added. "I think you have to keep in mind we have added five players in the past few weeks that we feel have shored up our most pressing needs. We have been fairly aggressive this month in claiming players on waivers. One of those claims led to a trade for Justin Bour a couple of weeks ago. Most of our claims have not led to any trades happening."