OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — Jose Bautista has long been booed whenever he’s played in Baltimore. Now, the free agent slugger wants the Orioles to consider signing him, and the team isn’t having any part of it.
Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette was asked about the 36-year-old Bautista on a Toronto radio station Tuesday night, and he said he wouldn’t sign the longtime Blue Jays star because Baltimore fans didn’t like him.
In a session with Baltimore reporters at the winter meetings, Duquette expanded on his remarks.
”Jose Bautista’s agent’s been knocking on the Orioles’ door for a while,” Duquette said. ”I told him, ‘Look our fans don’t really like Jose Bautista,’ and they don’t.
”Not to mention he has a qualifying offer attached to him, and I just made a comment in that we weren’t going to be pursuing their client. It’s true, the guy’s a villain in Baltimore.”
Duquette was asked if Bautista could conceivably become more attractive if his price on the free agent market dropped.
”I’ll have to ask our fans,” said Duquette, joking.
”We have a good rivalry with several teams in the division. We have a very spirited rivalry with the Jays, which I think is good. Most of the time it’s healthy. Once in a while, people’s emotions get the best of them,” Duquette said.
”This is a tough division. The American League East is tough. You’ve got those two behemoths in the north, and then you’ve got a whole country a little further north. You play these teams, what 18 times? Nineteen times during the season? In addition to that, we play them another four or five times in spring training.
”We’re in the same neighborhood with these people, 24, 25 times a year, and it’s very competitive, so these things are going to happen. It’s a pretty wide number of fans that don’t like this guy.”
Duquette was asked if he had taken a poll.
”I’ve just been watching the games,” he said.
NOTE: Orioles LHP Zach Britton, successful on all 47 of his save opportunities in 2016, has declined an invitation to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic in March.