Here’s the latest from around the AL East…
- After Edwin Encarnacion didn’t immediately accept the Blue Jays’ initial four-year, $80MM offer, Toronto quickly pivoted to sign Kendrys Morales. With Encarnacion still unsigned as we move into late December, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi opines that the Jays could have re-signed the slugger at around that price had they been a bit more patient. By contrast, as Davidi notes, the Dodgers were able to re-sign Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner and Rich Hill after expressing their interest in the players but giving them time to test the market before circling back with an offer. “Given how much common ground there was [between Encarnacion and the Jays], it’s an awful, awful way to part with a franchise icon,” Davidi writes. The door isn’t yet totally closed on an Encarnacion return to Toronto, though with Morales and Steve Pearce both joining Justin Smoak in the first base/DH mix, it seems like the Blue Jays have already moved on.
- The Red Sox have positioned themselves for a three-year window as World Series contenders, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald writes, with a potential for a longer-term run of contention if current top prospects develop or if the Sox decide to lock up current young stars like Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley or Xander Bogaerts to extensions.
- As part of a reader mailbag, Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog posits that Masahiro Tanaka, Dellin Betances and/or Tyler Clippard are logical deadline trade chips for the Yankees if New York is only on the fringes of the postseason race (as in 2016) or out of it altogether. Tanaka (if he exercises his opt-out) and Clippard will both be free agents next winter, and Axisa feels the Yankees should probably be listening to offers for Betances right now, given the current high demand for elite relief pitching. Tanaka’s opt-out looms as one of the major subplots of the Yankees’ season, and while Tanaka could arguably be shopped now if the team doesn’t feel he’ll stay beyond 2017, Axisa doesn’t think it makes sense for the Yankees to trade their best pitcher after spending big to re-sign Aroldis Chapman. It’s not out of the question that the Yankees trade Tanaka for prospects at the deadline and then look to re-sign him, as they did with Chapman this past year.