“The external perception is that the Blue Jays are a team ready to win but also a team in transition,” MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince writes in a piece detailing how 2016 stands out as a win-now season for the franchise. While the Jays have several major players and young stars controlled into 2017 and beyond, this could also be Toronto’s last season with Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, R.A. Dickey, Brett Cecil and (perhaps) even manager John Gibbons if the new front office wants to hire its own dugout boss. Here’s some more from north of the border…
- The Jays are “willing to be much more flexible” in talks with Bautista than Encarnacion when it comes to contract length and money, Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair reports. Encarnacion is rumored to be asking for a five-year deal, though even a four-year pact could be too much for the Jays. The debate over contract length has reportedly already been a stumbling block in talks between Encarnacion’s camp and the Jays, with the club reportedly offering extensions of only one or two years. It seems like Toronto will have to be flexible if the team is to keep Bautista, as its reported preference for a deal in the three-year/$75MM range is about half of Bautista’s demands.
- Paul Kinzer, Encarnacion’s agent, told Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun that his client’s reported demand for a five-year deal is inaccurate. “We have never put a number on the terms of the length of the contract. We have never discussed a dollar amount,” Kinzer said.
- There is “no chance” the Jays re-sign both Bautista and Encarnacion, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets, as the club simply can’t put two more large salaries on the books when Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki are also signed to major deals through 2019 and 2020, respectively. I explored the difficulties Toronto would face in extending both sluggers in a Bautista extension candidate piece last November, and given the reports since, it’s becoming increasingly possible that neither player is wearing a Jays jersey in 2017.
- Gavin Floyd will make a start in a minor league game today, which could bring more clarity to the still-unsettled fifth starter’s battle between Floyd and Aaron Sanchez. Gibbons was rather vague in comments to reporters (including Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi) yesterday about whether the Jays were any closer to a decision. Both starters have pitched very well this spring, adding to the debate as to whether the Blue Jays should go with the veteran reclamation project or the promising but still raw youngster. Andrew Stoeten of Blue Jays Nation points out that Sanchez still has unanswered questions about whether or not he can retire left-handed hitters after getting hit hard by lefty bats last season, while an NL scout tells Jeff Blair (in the previously-linked piece) that Sanchez has the “best stuff I’ve seen anywhere this spring. They’re crazy if they put him in the bullpen.”
- Fangraphs’ August Fagerstrom opines that Sanchez should be in the rotation, arguing that if the Blue Jays put him in the bullpen again, transitioning Sanchez back to a starting role will be more difficult down the road. Given Sanchez’s top prospect status, “it’s far more important to the organization to know whether Sanchez can stick as a starter than it is to know whether Floyd can stick as a starter….The information on Sanchez is just worth more.”