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Edwin Encarnacion Rumors
The Blue Jays recently signed Jamie Moyer to add depth to a rotation that's seen Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison and Brandon Morrow hit the disabled list in recent weeks, and their search for pitching reinforcements won’t end with the 49-year-old left-hander. Officials of three teams describe the Blue Jays as being in a “full court press” for rotation help, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark reports. The 38-38 Blue Jays maintain a buyer’s stance, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports report.
The team recently sent multiple scouts to at least two of Wandy Rodriguez’s starts, Rosenthal and Morosi report. The club has also maintained contact with the Cubs about Matt Garza, FOX reports. The Blue Jays prefer to acquire players who are under team control for an extended period and Rodriguez (team control through 2013 or 2014) and Garza (through 2013) are more than rental players.
The Blue Jays are giving “little indication” that they intend to trade potential free agents Edwin Encarnacion and Kelly Johnson, Rosenthal and Morosi write. Scouts are saying they’ve been told Encarnacion is available for the “right” pitcher, Stark reports. Yet one person told Stark Encarnacion is "not available, as far as I know." Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.com wrote earlier today that the Blue Jays would have multiple suitors if they make Encarnacion available.
Stark suggests the Blue Jays could have interest in recently designated Cubs starter Randy Wells.
The latest from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com…
- Several teams would target Edwin Encarnacion if the Blue Jays make him available in trades, Heyman writes. However, the Blue Jays’ main priority is putting together an effective and healthy rotation.
- Teams see Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs as a designated hitter, not an outfielder, Heyman writes. One general manager says the Cubs could trade Soriano if they absorb all but $2MM of his contract. The Cubs are indeed willing to pay a “very substantial portion” of the $45MM or so remaining on the contract, Heyman writes. One scout suggested the Rays could be a fit for Soriano, who seems willing to waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a deal to a contender.
- The Twins are believed to be more willing to trade Denard Span than Josh Willingham, writes Heyman. They do not appear to be actively engaged in talks yet, but they would seek a young starting pitcher in return for Span.
- The Dodgers are one of several teams inquiring about Chase Headley, writes Heyman. The Padres are willing to listen on their third baseman and Heyman says they will consider intra-division trades.
It was on this day in 1996 that Cal Ripken Jr. became professional baseball's all-time iron man. Though Ripken eclipsed Lou Gehrig's Major League record for consecutive games played in 1995, it took a while longer to surpass Japan's Sachio Kinugasa, who played in 2215 NPL straight games between 1970 and 1987.
Here's some news from both Ripken's Orioles and elsewhere around the AL East…
- Theo Epstein spoke to media (including WEEI.com's Alex Speier) about his days as the Red Sox general manager, noting that he felt some of the club's free agent signings deviated from the franchise's long-term plan and were made due to the pressure of staying competitive. It's a must-read piece for Red Sox fans, not to mention Cubs fans who could see what Epstein hopes to avoid during his tenure in Chicago.
- “We’re going to go see hundreds of players over the next few weeks,” Red Sox GM Ben Cherington tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. “We may end up just acquiring one of those or none of them. In this particular year, we do believe we’re going to get impact players just by getting healthy. Still, we have to come together. I think this team still will be very good.”
- The Blue Jays could look to move Edwin Encarnacion, Kelly Johnson or "any bullpen piece" at the trade deadline if the team isn't in serious contention, opines FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi in a radio interview with the Brady & Lang show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan (Sportsnet.ca's Jeff Simmons has a partial transcript).
- Encarnacion's breakout season could put him in line for a big free agent contract this winter but Morosi says "a lot of GMs are wary" about Encarnacion's ability to play first base on a regular basis. "If you're viewed as a DH, that will affect his valuation going forward," Morosi said. "So we'll see how often he plays in the field and not having [Vladimir Guerrero] coming will certainly change how often he'll play first base."
- The Orioles and Blue Jays have both been scouting the Cubs, reports Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago. Levine specified that Baltimore was looking at the Cubs' starting pitchers and Alfonso Soriano.
- For more AL East news, check out this batch of Yankees notes and the latest on the Kevin Youkilis trade rumors.
The Rays announced that they added Hideki Matsui to their active roster today, optioning Stephen Vogt to Triple-A and transferring Brandon Guyer to the 60-day disabled list in corresponding moves. Here are some items of interest from the AL East…
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports explains that Adam Jones’ new extension is about Jones the person, not just Jones the center fielder. The Orioles signed Jones to a six-year, $85.5MM deal last week.
- The Blue Jays aren’t currently discussing an extension with the representatives for Edwin Encarnacion, Morosi reports (on Twitter). The Wasserman Media Group client is on track to hit free agency after the season.
- The Blue Jays announced that they optioned Eric Thames to Triple-A. Thames, the Opening Day left fielder, returns to the minors and infielder Mike McCoy takes his place on Toronto’s active roster.
- Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal suggests it wouldn't be surprising if the Red Sox moved to extend Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the next few months. The hot-hitting catcher will be arbitration eligible for the third and final time this coming offseason and can expect a raise from his current $2.5MM salary.
- Here's a look at the 2013 contract issues facing the AL East teams: Red Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays.
Here's the latest from the AL East…
- The Rays' success with low-budget acquisitions stands out in contrast to other teams' lack of return on expensive free agents, writes Gary Shelton of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays had a modest offseason and have baseball's second-best record, while Shelton notes the Marlins have only a .500 record after spending big last winter.
- Rays ownership's patience with the Andrew Friedman/Matt Silverman/Joe Maddon management team is a big reason why Tampa Bay has become a consistent contender, writes MLB.com's Bill Chastain.
- The Blue Jays offered David Pauley a minor league contract in March, tweets MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. Pauley decided to sign with the Angels instead since "there was an opportunity to come and play" in Los Angeles.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos "deserves a lot of credit" for Edwin Encarnacion's success in 2012, manager John Farrell tells MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. "[Anthopoulos] is the one that has talked about him repeatedly, and consistently, with the belief that there is an above-average offensive player in there," Farrell said.
- Tsuyoshi Wada has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list, the Orioles announced today. The move creates space on the 40-man roster for right-hander Stu Pomeranz (brother of Rockies' hurler Drew Pomeranz), who had his contract selected from Triple-A. Wada is set to undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss the rest of the 2012 season.
- Fangraphs' Matt Klaassen looks at J.J. Hardy as "an excellent trade chip," though the Orioles' decision to move Hardy or any other veterans has been impacted by the club's surprising rise to the top of the standings.
- The Yankees might be wise to retain impending free agent Nick Swisher, opines Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog, though signing him could be difficult given the Yankees' plan to fit their payroll under the luxury tax threshold by 2014.
- For more on the Bronx Bombers, check out this collection of Yankees notes compiled earlier today by MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith.
Blue Jays reporter Alex Anthopoulos spoke with reporters today; here's the latest. All links go to the Twitter accounts of Shi Davidi and Gregor Chisholm.
- Anthopoulos says any employee interviewing for another job isn't part of current planning, implying that Tony LaCava is out of the loop as he interviews for the Orioles' GM gig.
- While the Blue Jays have the flexibility to acquire a designated hitter, Anthopoulos says it's "very low on our priority list." My David Ortiz prediction isn't looking so hot; make your pick in our new free agent prediction contest.
- Anthopoulos expects most of Edwin Encarnacion's at-bats to come at DH, though Encarnacion is playing left field in winter ball and in spring to add flexibility. The Blue Jays exercised their $3.5MM club option on Encarnacion yesterday.
- The Jays have not closed the door on re-signing reliever Jon Rauch after declining his $3.75MM club option yesterday.
The Blue Jays announced that they exercised their 2012 option for Edwin Encarnacion and declined their option for Jon Rauch. Encarnacion obtains a $3.5MM salary instead of a $500K buyout and Rauch obtains a $250K buyout instead of a $3.75MM salary.
Encarnacion, 28, posted a .272/.334/.453 line and hit 17 home runs in 2011. I explained at the beginning of September that the Blue Jays were likely to pick up his option because of his strong final four months.
Rauch, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 52 innings for Toronto in 2011, finishing the season on the 15-day disabled list with a right knee cartilage tear. Although he is a Type B free agent, an offer of arbitration from the Blue Jays seems unlikely.
The AL East winner has had at least 95 wins every year since 2000 and the Blue Jays haven't had more than 87 wins during that stretch. Toronto finished fourth in the American League East with an 81-81 record this year, so they have some improving and developing to do before they make their first playoff appearance since 1993.
GM Alex Anthopoulos discussed the 2011 season this afternoon. Here are some highlights, from video on the Blue Jays' site:
- Anthopoulos declined to discuss his contract in detail, but said he's happy in Toronto. "I expect to be here as long as they want me here," he said.
- Anthopoulos likes the humility and drive to improve that first-year manager John Farrell showed this season. To see how Farrell and other new managers did in 2011, click here.
- The Blue Jays haven't decided how they'll approach Edwin Encarnacion ($3.5MM option, $500K buyout) and Frank Francisco (free agent) after the season. I predicted this month that they'll pick up Encarnacion's option.
- Kelly Johnson, who hits free agency in a month, did a "nice job" and is a possibility for the Blue Jays in 2012. The Blue Jays will reach out to his representatives this month.
- The Blue Jays would like to improve their rotation, but won't likely be shopping for back-of-the-rotation types.
- Anthopoulos says the Rays are arguably the best-run organization in sports and says they do "everything right."
- Anthopoulos suggested that the Blue Jays don't have the internal pitching depth to improve the bullpen as much as they hope to, so expect him to acquire relievers via trades or free agent signings.
Albert Pujols has a .304/.373/.551 line after tonight's four-hit performance, but the Cardinals' win didn't bring them any closer to the Braves, who still hold a 2.5 game advantage in the Wild Card standings. Here are tonight's links…
- Aramis Ramirez told Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald that he has "probably" played his last game as a Cub at Wrigley Field (Twitter links). As Ramirez points out, he can't negotiate a new deal with the Cubs at the moment since they don't currently have a permanent GM. I took a look at possible suitors for the third baseman last week.
- Manny Ramirez intends to play in the Dominican winter league for the Cibao Eagles, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN).
- The Royals are promoting Kelvin Herrera, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link). They will need to create 40-man roster space to promote the right-hander, as their roster is at its full complement. The Royals don't have any players on the 15-day DL, so there's no way of transferring a player to the 60-day DL for an easy fix.
- Shawn Camp and Edwin Encarnacion told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca that they'd like to return to Toronto in 2012. Camp hits free agency after the season, while the Blue Jays control Encarnacion's rights for '12 with an option that I discussed earlier in the month.
About three months ago, it sure seemed like it was time for the Blue Jays to give up on Edwin Encarnacion. He wasn’t hitting and he certainly couldn’t handle third base. At the beginning of June, he had a season line of .247/.270/.349 and given that he had committed eight errors in just 16 starts at third, it wasn’t enough.
Since then, Encarnacion has been one of the most productive hitters in Toronto’s lineup. He has a .292/.368/.530 line with 14 homers in what amounts to a half season’s worth of playing time. It’s the kind of production GM Alex Anthopoulos envisioned when he re-signed Encarnacion last winter and it could be enough for the Blue Jays to bring the 28-year-old back in 2012.
Before the season, Anthopoulos liked Encarnacion enough to suggest he had “one more gear in there” and a shot at a 30-homer season. Encarnacion won’t reach 30 homers, but he did show the Jays that he’s capable of raising his game.
Every player, including Albert Pujols, goes through bad months. But two-month long slumps can’t be written off; they’re part of a player’s season. So when the Blue Jays decide whether Encarnacion’s worth $3MM and a roster spot next year ($3.5MM option, $500K buyout), they’ll consider his entire year.
With four weeks to go, Encarnacion has a .276/.335/.466 season line. He hasn't appeared at third since July and even though he plays first semi-regularly, he's essentially a designated hitter. The average DH has a .265/.340/.429 line this year, so Encarnacion boasts above-average power for the position despite his modest total of 15 home runs.
Encarnacion has established himself as a powerful, positionless player who’s especially productive against left-handers. It’s not far off of the Marcus Thames prototype, but Encarnacion has probably earned himself another shot in Toronto with these past three months.
For a net cost of $3MM I expect the Blue Jays to exercise the option (especially since he doesn't project as a ranked free agent). At worst, Encarnacion becomes a bench weapon against left-handed pitching. At best, he keeps producing the way he has since June and remains a bargain DH for another year.
Photo courtesy Icon SMI.