In his latest column, FanRag’s Jon Heyman writes that while the Blue Jays offered Edwin Encarnacion only a two-year deal with a pair of options back in Spring Training (as has been previously reported), his huge season is expected to push the Jays to up their offer. Toronto “might consider” four years, per Heyman, though their preference would be to retain Encarnacion on a three-year pact. A three-year deal strikes me as a non-starter, as Encarnacion should be considered a lock for at least a four-year deal after seeing other defensively limited, mid-30s sluggers like Nelson Cruz ($57MM) and Victor Martinez ($68MM) pull in four-year pacts in recent offseasons. (For what it’s worth, I expect Encarnacion to top the total value of both of those contracts with ease.) The Blue Jays will make qualifying offers to both Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, per Heyman, though that’s long been the expectation for the pair of veteran sluggers.
More from the AL East…
- The Rays outrighted left-hander Dana Eveland last week, and the veteran reliever recently elected free agency, but he’s expected to re-sign with the team, per MLB.com’s Bill Chastain. “That’s the plan,” Eveland told Chastain when asked about a return. Eveland said he expects to be back in the fold in the near future, presumably on a minor league deal. Though the 33-year-old allowed 23 runs in 23 big league innings this season, he was lights out at Triple-A Durham, where he posted a 0.30 ERA (one earned run) with a 21-to-6 K/BB ratio in 29 2/3 innings. Eveland has bounced all over the league since debuting as a 21-year-old with the Brewers in 2005, and while he’s had difficulty sticking in one place, he’s been appealing enough to MLB clubs to have appeared in the Majors in all but one season since that 2005 debut. (He spent the 2013 season pitching in Korea.) Eveland has a 5.46 ERA in 446 1/3 big league innings split between 10 teams.
- Chastain also reports that the Rays informed longtime strength and conditioning coach Kevin Barr that they’re going in another direction next season. Barr offered praise for the organization and had kind words to say about his time there, but he joins former hitting coach Derek Shelton as members of the 2016 staff to be dismissed.
- MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko examined the Orioles’ arbitration-eligible players following the release of MLBTR’s arbitration projections earlier this week. While Kubatko notes that the likes of Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop and Kevin Gausman will obviously be tendered contracts, things are less certain for utilityman Ryan Flaherty, left-hander T.J. McFarland and right-hander Vance Worley — each of whom could be deemed to expensive and could be a non-tender candidate. Caleb Joseph figures to be the backup catcher next season based on his modest $1MM projection, even though he struggled tremendously in 2016. (Joseph did not hit a home run all season and, somewhat amazingly, did not collect a single RBI.) Of course, it remains to be seen exactly who will be the primary backstop for the Orioles in 2017.