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Jose Bautista signs with Braves as third baseman


Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista flips his bat after hitting a three-run homer during seventh inning game 5 American League Division Series baseball action in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT


This is fun: the Atlanta Braves have signed free agent Jose Bautista to a minor league contract. And they plan to use him as a third baseman.

Bautista has played nearly 400 games at third base in his career, but, while he’s taken a small handful of turns there over the past few seasons, he hasn’t played it regularly for a decade. Bautista will report to the club’s extended spring training complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, however, and start taking reps. At age 37, I seriously doubt he’ll be a positive defensive contributor there, but it’s kinda fun, isn’t it?

The point of grabbing Bautista, though, is that he could provide some nearly-free offense. Last year he put up his worse offensive season since his lost, early years in Pittsburgh, but still managed to hit 23 homers. He had an above-average batting line in 2016, however, and was downright valuable in 2015.

Is it likely that he’ll be a solid middle-of-the-order bat now? Nah, but it’s zero risk with at least some potential reward. And kudos to the Braves for at least attempting to think outside of the box and sign a guy who some fans might find enjoyable to watch in the event he can play his way into the lineup.

Follow @craigcalcaterra