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Blue Jays nearing deal with Jose Bautista

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The slugger will return to Toronto, likely on a two-year agreement.

MLB: ALDS-Toronto Blue Jays at Texas Rangers Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays are nearing a deal to re-sign slugger Jose Bautista, as first reported by MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The sides are in serious discussions about a two-year contract in the $35-40 million range and are expected to come to agreement soon, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan.

Bautista has been this winter’s most enigmatic free agent, as it originally appeared that Toronto would be moving on when the club signed both Steve Pearce and Kendrys Morales to multi-year deals. The Jays lost Edwin Encarnacion to Cleveland on a three-year pact, but ended up circling back to Bautista and reuniting with him on a short-term arrangement.

Bautista drew at least some interest from the Dodgers, Orioles, Rays and Indians in recent weeks, though many in baseball believed a reunion with Toronto was always the most likely outcome. Bautista was reported to be comfortable with a one-year deal in recent weeks, though he appears to have landed a two-year guarantee from the Jays.

Bautista, 36, hit just .234/.366/.452 with 22 homers in an injury-shortened season for Toronto that caused his value to falter a bit on the open market. The slugger re-joins Morales, Pearce, Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin and Kevin Pillar in an always-strong Jays’ lineup as the club looks to get back to the AL Championship Series for the third consecutive season.

Bautista has spent the last nine seasons with Toronto, being named an All-Star on six occasions while slugging .261/.382/.528 with 265 homers in 1,078 games.