José Bautista, whose playoff home run — and the bat flip that followed — cemented him in Toronto Blue Jays history, has signed a one-day contract to retire as a member of the team with which he played 10 seasons.
Bautista, 42, leaves the game as a six-time All-Star and with a .247 career batting average with 344 home runs, 975 RBIs and 1,022 runs. He played 15 seasons and donned the jersey of eight franchises along the way, but it was his time with Toronto from 2008 to 2017 for which “Joey Bats” will be remembered and why his name is being added to the team’s Level of Excellence at the Rogers Centre on Saturday.
Bautista turned into one of the game’s most feared sluggers with the Blue Jays, swatting 288 homers with Toronto, including a major league-leading 54 in 2010 — a franchise record — and 43 in 2011.
Bautista’s tiebreaking three-run home run in the seventh inning of a deciding Game 5 of the 2015 American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers was capped by a memorable flip of the bat before he started rounding the bases in front of a raucous Toronto crowd.
A Bautista bobblehead, capturing the memorable moment, will be presented to fans entering Rogers Centre on Saturday.
Bautista also represented the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Atlanta Braves, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies during his career, which spanned 1,798 games.