The Blue Jays can advance to the ALCS for the second straight year if they can defeat the Rangers in Game Three of their series tonight, while the Red Sox will be eliminated if they don’t win their own Game Three with the Indians this afternoon. The Sox could live to play another day, however, without ever taking the field — there is a lot of rain in the forecast in Boston and MLB officials are already meeting to discuss a possible postponement. Here’s the latest from around the AL East…
- The Rays may have to trade some salary in order to add needed parts to their roster while still keeping a payroll in the $65-$70MM range, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Drew Smyly, Erasmo Ramirez and Brad Boxberger could all be potential trade chips, Topkin speculates, since the three hurlers are all becoming increasingly expensive through arbitration.
- In his latest Boston Globe notes column, Nick Cafardo wonders if the Red Sox could eventually move Xander Bogaerts to third base given Bogaerts’ subpar defensive metrics. Bogaerts’ glovework accounted for minus-10 Defensive Runs Saved and -1.6 UZR/150 in 2016, a significant drop from his generally average numbers in 2015. A move to the hot corner doesn’t seem imminent, given that the Sox already have Travis Shaw as the incumbent, Pablo Sandoval still owed a lot of money and top prospects Yoan Moncada and Rafael Devers also lined up for third base. It could be that the Red Sox can live with Bogaerts’ defense as long as he keeps producing at the plate. If not, other shortstop options include slick-fielding but light-hitting Deven Marrero, as well as prospects C.J. Chatham and Mauricio Dubon still a couple of years away.
- Also from Cafardo’s column, he opines that Jose Bautista’s time with the Blue Jays could be coming to an end. The Jays may not even extend Bautista a one-year, $16.7MM qualifying offer for fear that the slugger could accept it. Bautista had a down year by his standards, hitting .234/.366/.452 with 22 homers over 517 plate appearances in a season interrupted by two DL stints. These are still pretty solid numbers, however, plus Bautista is enhancing his stock with another big postseason performance, so I would be pretty surprised if the Blue Jays declined to even issue a QO. Unless the club is simply ready to move on from the slugger, I would also imagine that the Jays wouldn’t mind having Bautista back on a one-year deal, given his outstanding track record.
- The Blue Jays could make Edwin Encarnacion another offer in the wake of his excellent season, Cafardo writes, though Encarnacion is expected to be a top Red Sox target to replace David Ortiz.
- Encarnacion has long been linked to Boston on the rumor mill, though ESPN’s Buster Olney (subscription required) feels Encarnacion isn’t really a fit since the Red Sox are already overflowing with position players. The Sox could also use a left-handed bat rather than a righty-swinger like Encarnacion, plus there are several other first base/DH types on the market this winter that could be obtained for a much cheaper price.