While a deep playoff run could improve the Blue Jays’ odds of re-signing one of right fielder Jose Bautista or designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, chances are neither will return to Toronto next season, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (video link). The fact that the Jays are already dedicating a significant chunk of payroll to a pair of over-30 players in catcher Russell Martin and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki could deter them from handing out another massive contract to an aging player. Bautista and Encarnacion are two of the best hitters in the sport, but their respective ages (35 and 33) are working against them. Rosenthal reported last month that the Jays might only be willing to give Bautista a Yoenis Cespedes-esque deal (three years, $75MM), which is a good distance from his desire to land at least a four-year contract worth in the $30MM-per-annum range. As for Encarnacion, extension talks between him and Toronto went dormant in March.
Here’s more from Rosenthal:
- The Nationals have until June 15 to exercise the two-year option in president of baseball operations/general manager Mike Rizzo’s contract, and signs point toward the team picking it up. The Rizzo-built Nationals haven’t won a championship, but they have ranged from respectable to elite in recent individual seasons. They currently have the majors’ third-best record since 2012, including an 8-1 start this year, and possess one of baseball’s premier farm systems. In the unlikely event Washington doesn’t retain Rizzo, Rosenthal doesn’t think he’d have a difficult time finding another job.
- Although Padres president Mike Dee gave second-year GM A.J. Preller a vote of confidence last month, Friars ownership expects better from the team than what it has shown during a 3-8 start. If such poor play continues, it could put Preller’s job in jeopardy. However, as Rosenthal notes, the Padres hired Preller because of his eye for young talent, which the club is in position to accrue in droves over the next several months. Preller’s Padres have three of the top 25 picks in June’s draft and are expected to be highly active when the international free agent spending period begins July 2. They could also add more youth by trading certain veterans this summer.
- With hard-throwing righty Lance McCullers on the shelf because of inflammation in his pitching shoulder, the Astros might have to address the lack of velocity in their rotation at some point, Rosenthal opines. Even though the Astros have the reigning American League Cy Young winner in lefty Dallas Keuchel, he isn’t known for overpowering velocity. Neither are fellow starters Mike Fiers, Doug Fister, Collin McHugh or Scott Feldman. Of course, in addition to McCullers, Houston had another young, in-house flamethrower in Vincent Velasquez, but it traded the early 2016 sensation to the Phillies in a package for reliever Ken Giles during the offseason.