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Blue Jays rumors: Sox eyeing Bautista or Encarnacion in ’17

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Blue Jays stars Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista are reportedly already drawing the attention of the Boston Red Sox ahead of their 2017 free agency

The impending free agency of longtime Blue Jays Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista is a conversation that will only burn stronger as we approach the summer months. Both have given the Blue Jays their peak seasons at a relative discount, especially in the current free agent landscape, and given Mark Shapiro’s past tendencies it’s likely that one walks, but conceivable that both do.

Power gets paid. We discussed earlier in the offseason how the Chris Davis contract should help to frame Encarnacion’s next deal in terms of average annual value, and Bautista shouldn’t trail far behind despite his age. 

Take this Cracnick quote from yesterday for whatever it’s worth, but even if we step back from the quote itself and look at the situation in a more general sense, the fit is undeniably natural.

Boston has money to play. Money to burn. This won’t be changing after another year of profits behind what appears to be a very talented roster. The retirement of longtime DH and cleanup hitter David Ortiz will represent their first ‘need’ at that position in over a decade.

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Encarnacion does appear to be a better fit for Boston on the surface, at least on the level of directly replacing David Ortiz, where he could dent the Green Monster from the four-hole. With the possibility of one of these stars landing within the division, though, the conversation does need to change somewhat.

Is moving a contract offer from an average annual number of $19 million to $21 million (or something similar) worth it to avoid seeing them come to the plate 80+ times against Toronto? Especially in a tight division, with the presence of Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin suggesting that the Jays should be highly competitive in 2017 and 2018?

The total contract value here will obviously be a step down from that of David Price. That allows some more wiggle room if you’re the Jays, but I struggle to see Mark Shapiro as a front office leader that would make an increased financial commitment out of fear that Encarnacion of Bautista would stay in the division. That’s flirting with an ’emotional’ decision, and again, their age profiles don’t seem to it Shapiro’s past ways.

At this point, these still only exist as down-the-road possibilities, but some have understandably gotten a head start on their worrying. So whenever the day comes that you are ready to worry about the departure of these two, the potential of them landing at Fenway deserves a spot in the conversation.

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