Edwin Encarnacion Rumors
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.
Every winter teams non-tender players when they would rather risk losing them to another team than go through the potentially expensive arbitration process. Most non-tenders don’t come back to haunt their former clubs, but they definitely have the potential to do so.
Teams non-tendered over 50 players last offseason and a handful of them have added value for new organizations. Here’s a breakdown of which 2010 non-tenders are contributing in 2011:
- Tony Gwynn Jr., Dodgers (non-tendered by Padres) - Gwynn has a .255/.312/.333 line with 15 stolen bases in 252 plate appearances for the Dodgers and has played all three outfield positions.
- Scott Hairston, Mets (non-tendered by Padres) - Hairston has a robust .264/.331/.527 line with seven homers in a part-time role for the Mets.
- Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays (technically non-tendered by Athletics) - Encarnacion has a .277/.326/.446 line this year, including an .894 OPS since June 1st.
- Ronny Paulino, Mets (non-tendered by Marlins) - Paulino has been a serviceable part-time backstop for the Mets, posting a .293/.328/.374 line in 187 trips to the plate.
- Russell Martin, Yankees (non-tendered by Dodgers) - Martin has 12 homers and a .228/.324/.383 line in 349 plate appearances. He's tenth among all MLB catchers with 2.1 wins above replacement.
- Matt Albers, Red Sox (non-tendered by Orioles) - The right-hander has a 2.31 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 46 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. Albers is easily having his best season yet and all he cost was $875K. He's under team control through 2013.
- Todd Coffey, Nationals (non-tendered by Brewers) - The big righty has a 4.40 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 45 innings so far in 2011. The numbers are solid, but not so good that the Brewers have much to second-guess themselves on.
- Alfredo Aceves, Red Sox (non-tendered by Yankees) - Aceves has a 3.18 ERA with 5.3 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 76 1/3 innings as a swingman for the Red Sox this year. Considering the injuries the Boston pitching staff has sustained, you could argue that Aceves has been one of their best offseason additions.
- Jose Veras, Pirates (non-tendered by Marlins) - Veras has a 3.19 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 53 2/3 innings this year and has been a key weapon in Clint Hurdle's bullpen.
- Dustin Moseley, Padres (non-tendered by Yankees) - Moseley has a 3.30 ERA with 4.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 20 starts. Now on the DL, Moseley has completed a career-high 120 innings.
- Taylor Buchholz, Mets (technically non-tendered by Red Sox) - When healthy, Buchholz has been effective, posting a 3.12 ERA with a 26K/7BB ratio in 26 innings. He has been on the disabled list since June.
- Joel Peralta, Rays (non-tendered by Nationals) - The 35-year-old leads the American League in appearances (55) and has a 3.68 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 after 51 1/3 innings in Tampa Bay.
- George Sherrill, Braves (non-tendered by Dodgers) - Sherrill has a 3.38 ERA with a 36K/11BB ratio in 32 innings for his new club. He has mostly faced left-handed hitters.
Alex Anthopoulos says Brett Lawrie has done everything the Blue Jays have asked of him, but the GM doesn't assume the top prospect will succeed instantly given that some of baseball's best young players take months or even years to thrive in the Major Leagues. Anthopoulos discussed Lawrie and other Blue Jays this morning with Jeff Blair of Sportsnet Radio FAN 590 in Toronto. Here are the details:
- Though Lawrie is "not a finished product by any stretch," the Blue Jays want to get a look at him for seven weeks so they have a sense of how he matches up against MLB pitching.
- The Blue Jays haven't talked about moving Lawrie to second base and they view him as their long-term third baseman.
- Travis Snider, who was optioned to the minor leagues to create roster space for Lawrie, is "100%" a part of the Blue Jays' future. "He doesn't need a change of scenery," Anthopoulos told Blair.
- Edwin Encarnacion, who has a .293/.359/.530 line since the beginning of June, still "has the chance to be an impact bat," Anthopoulos says. The Blue Jays have a $3.5MM option for Encarnacion in 2012 and aren't ready to give up on him.
Here's the latest from the eastern side of the baseball map...
- Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest tells MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez that the team wants to "concentrate on the season right now" and wouldn't comment on whether the Fish would offer Edwin Rodriguez a contract extension before the year is up. Rodriguez, who took over as Florida's manager last June, is only on a one-year deal.
- The Yankees also released southpaw Andrew Sisco, according to the International League's transactions page. Sisco posted a 5.18 ERA in 151 relief appearances for the Royals and White Sox between 2005-07 and hasn't been back to the majors since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2008. Sisco, 28, had a 1.88 ERA and a 9.4 K/9 rate in 16 games at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season, though he'd also allowed 12 walks in 14 1/3 innings pitched.
- Dave Cameron of Fangraphs calls for the Blue Jays to release Edwin Encarnacion or at least permanently relegate him to the bench. "[Encarnacion is] an absolute disaster in the field, and his bat simply doesn’t even come close to making up for it," Cameron writes.
- J.C. Ramirez, one of the prospects the Phillies received in the Cliff Lee trade, has pitched well at Double-A this season, writes Jim Salisbury for Baseball America.
- It looks as if Domonic Brown will remain with the Phillies when Shane Victorino returns from the DL, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. This could mean the Phils send John Mayberry Jr. down to the minors, or perhaps Rule 5 draft pick Michael Martinez, who would of course have to be offered back to the Nationals.
- The Orioles are expected to release right-hander Ryan Drese, reports Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com. Drese, 35, last pitched in the majors in 2006 and currently has a 6.55 ERA in nine games (six of them starts) for Triple-A Norfolk.
- Overpaying for a designated hitter is "a new market inefficiency," writes Jason Collette of the DRaysBay blog. Collette suggests the Rays (and other teams) should look to fill the DH spot with the same low-cost approach that the Rays used to rebuild their bullpen this winter.
MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith also contributed to this post
Alex Anthopoulos says he has has 'tinkered' and 'talked' about acquiring a third baseman and won't rule out potential acquisitions. But the Blue Jays GM remains confident in Jose Bautista's ability to play the position all season long. The defending AL home run champ played 48 games at third last year and spent 225 games at the hot corner for the Pirates from 2007-08, so the Blue Jays say they're set at third.
Last year's third baseman, Edwin Encarnacion, will combine with Adam Lind to play first base and DH. The Blue Jays are hopeful that Lind can handle first defensively and they're optimistic about Encarnacion's power potential. Anthopoulos says he thinks Encarnacion has "one more gear in there" and while he hesitated before comparing him to Bautista, the GM says he can see Encarnacion hitting 30 homers or more in 2011.
The Blue Jays are also looking for a bounceback season from Aaron Hill, and they have a decision to make before the season starts. The team can either exercise Hill's 2012-14 options before the coming season begins or they can wait until the offseason, at which point they'll be able to exercise his 2012-13 options or just his 2012 option. Anthopoulos declined to elaborate on the team's plan, but did emphasize that the sides aren't bound to Hill's current deal.
“There’s a lot of flexibility,” Anthopoulos told a crowd of about 500 Blue Jays fans at last night's State of the Franchise event. “We’re not tied into anything. There’s nothing that prevents us from sitting down with Aaron and his agent and saying we want to do a five-year deal, four-year deal, six-year deal.”
Anthopoulos also discussed one multiyear deal that has become the responsibility of another organization. He declined to confirm reports that the Blue Jays are sending $5MM to the Angels as part of the Vernon Wells trade.
The Blue Jays have money to spend now that they've unloaded most or all of Wells' deal and they remain open to making acquisitions. Anthopoulos, a Montreal native and former Expos employee, says he can relate to fans who want a bona fide slugger like Vladimir Guerrero.
"I understand," Anthopoulos said. "He was one of my favorite players growing up and he's someone that I admire."
However, Anthopoulos exaplined that he doesn't want to acquire players who get playing time in place of developing players. For example, the Blue Jays intend to provide their top catching prospect with the chance to show major league pitchers why he won the Pacific Coast League MVP last year.
“We really don’t want to get in the way of J.P. Arencibia because we do believe that he’s an important component of this team” Anthopoulos said. “He has nothing more to prove down [in the minors]. He needs to get an opportunity to play up here and we might have to let him live through some struggles early on.”
If the Blue Jays don't spend on free agents or through trades, they say they'll have more to spend on player development, the amateur draft and international free agency. Amateur spending will not end the Blue Jays' 17-year playoff drought immediately, but it's promising news for fans of a team that has seven of the first 78 selections in the upcoming June draft.
The Blue Jays announced that they signed Edwin Encarnacion to a one-year, $2.5MM contract that includes a club option for $3.5MM in 2012. The team says Encarnacion will play first base/DH, instead of third base, where he spent last season.
The A's claimed the infielder off of waivers from the Blue Jays only to non-tender him a month later. Encarnacion would have been due for a raise from the $4.75MM salary he earned in 2010 if the A's or Blue Jays had gone to arbitration with him.
Encarnacion, who turns 28 next month, hit .244/.305/.482 with 21 homers in 367 plate appearances for the Blue Jays last year. He surged at the end of the season, homering in his last four games. He has a career .266/.373/.474 line against left-handed pitchers, so he could spell Adam Lind against lefties given Lind's struggles against southpaws.
Unless the Blue Jays intend to play Jose Bautista at third, they still have an opening at the hot corner. The Rays and Indians also had some interest in Encarnacion. Wasserman Media Group represents Encarnacion.