The Toronto Blue Jays took care of some expected business today, picking up the 2016 team options on R.A. Dickey, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. The club also declined their option with second baseman Maicer Izturis, opting to pay the $1 million buyout.
Bautista’s $14 million option and Encarnacion’s at $10 million weren’t even decisions, as both are coming off fantastic offensive years and showing very little sign of decline with age. Their contract status will now be one of the hot topics to watch throughout the 2016 season, as the two longtime centrepieces of the Blue Jays lineup could look to strike one final payday on the open market.
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Dickey’s option was the only uncertainty, but even then, it’s seemed 98% likely. The knuckler ate another 214.1 innings in 2015, dipping his ERA below 4.00 late in the season with a stretch of performances that helped to propel Toronto towards the playoffs. October wasn’t as kind to him, but given the lack of starting depth in the current rotation, his return is a no-brainer.
Marcus Stroman and R.A. Dickey are now the only two locks for the rotation in 2016, with the hopeful return of Marco Estrada representing a third option. In the unlikely scenario that Toronto stumbles their way into legitimate starting depth or chooses to relocate their resources, trading Dickey’s salary for controllable prospects could be an option down the line.
Dickey will be turning 42 later this month, but in knuckleball years, that’s no great issue. If he’s able to deliver another 200+ innings in 2015 with some level of consistency and quality, he’ll be worth the dollars spent. It’s also good news for Josh Thole, who will follow Dickey wherever he may roam through the game of baseball. If Toronto is unable to address their backup catcher situation, Thole could be part of an underhwhelming in-house competition for the job.