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Both of the Toronto Blue Jays’ big-name sluggers — Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista — are free agents this winter, and it looks as if the team is already trying to fill their shoes. Yesterday, the Jays inked Kendrys Morales to a reported three years and $33 million, pending a physical.
Toronto extended qualifying offers to both Encarnacion and Bautista, and the team reportedly struck up talks early this week to sign Encarnacion to something beyond that. According to Shi Davidi of SportsNet, those early conversations were "fruitful" enough to give Encarnacion "something to think about." By signing Morales, though, the Jays are taking on a cheaper and less effective version of more or less the same player they have in Encarnacion — which makes it fairly unlikely that they continue any efforts to keep the first baseman-slash-designated hitter in Toronto. With extremely limited defensive opportunities (if any) for each player, there really isn’t room on a roster for both, and it looks as if Toronto has decided its guy here is Morales.
Morales, a free agent after his second season with the Kansas City Royals, took a step back at the plate in 2016 after his hot 2015. But his power was still around, with 30 home runs to complement a slash line of .263/.327/.468. By comparison, Encarnacion’s 2016 offered something generally cut from the same cloth, only better — 42 homers while hitting .263/.357/.529. Both are now 33 years old, with little defense to speak of and power as their calling card. But Encarnacion, coming off a better year as part of a better career, will likely claim more on the free agent market after six years in Toronto, and the Blue Jays have now opted for a less expensive and less productive alternative in Morales.
- Elsewhere in Blue Jays moves — they’ve also signed Cuban prospect Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to seven years and $22 million.
- The Atlanta Braves are stocking up up aging-yet-dependable innings by signing Bartolo Colon after already picking up R.A. Dickey earlier this week. More Bartolo at the plate!
- After a year without a regular position for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Howie Kendrick has been sent to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney.
- What might that rumored Justin Verlander-to-L.A. trade bring back for Detroit? Bless You Boys imagines the prospect riches.
- Replacing David Ortiz is no small feat, but Matt Holliday might be the next answer at DH for the Boston Red Sox.
- Chances are that Japanese phenom Shohei Otani doesn’t get posted for MLB teams this winter, but to indulge in hypotheticals for a bit — if he was posted, could the New York Yankees be the team to grab him?
- Everyone knows the San Francisco Giants will have to address their bullpen needs this offseason. But there are some needs beyond that, too.
- The Angels have signed Jesse Chavez as a starter for one year, though he spent last season in the bullpen for the Dodgers and Jays.