Toronto pushing to keep Encarnacion
After extending a qualifying offer to free agent Edwin Encarnacion on Monday, the Blue Jays are pushing to keep the slugger in Toronto. Early talks have been “fruitful,” at least to the extent that they’ve given Encarnacion “something to think about,” per reporting from Shi Davidi of SportsNet. But they’re certainly not the only team interested—with the Red Sox, Rangers, and Astros all listed as other possible suitors by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Last year represented a dip in overall production for the 33-year-old, but his power is clearly still around and enough to keep teams interested in signing on for more. Though the True Average of .291 was the lowest he’s posted since 2011, a home run total of 42 tied his career best from 2012 and was good for third-highest in baseball.
Toronto faces the potential of a future with neither Encarnacion nor fellow slugger Jose Bautista—also a free agent and the only other player to whom the team extended a qualifying offer—but the Blue Jays’ initial efforts appear to be most strongly focused on retaining Encarnacion, according to Davidi.
Baltimore sets sights on keeping Trumbo, potentially adding Desmond
The Orioles are apparently interested in keeping Mark Trumbo around—they extended a qualifying offer to the last year’s home run leader, and per Jon Heyman of FanRag, they’d like to talk about more than that. But according to Heyman, improved outfield defense is a specific offseason goal of front office boss Dan Duquette, and that’s not an area Trumbo did much to help in right field last season.
One of the options Baltimore is looking toward? Free agent Ian Desmond, from reporting by Jon Morosi of MLB Network. Last year was Desmond’s first in the outfield, and it was a relative success, with the Rangers feeling confident enough in his abilities to switch him from left to center a few months into the season.
Though Baltimore’s interest is primarily for his corner outfield services, Morosi said, Desmond is also open to returning to his middle-infield roots to offer some versatility. Desmond also had something of an offensive bounceback last year, with a triple-slash of .285/.335/.446, after a weak 2015 at the plate hampered his options in free agency last winter and kept his contract with Texas to just one year.
KBO’s Hwang schedules showcase
Jae-Gyun Hwang of the Korea Baseball Organization will likely be the best position player to make the leap from Asian leagues to MLB this season, and the third baseman has scheduled a showcase for teams in late November, according to Jon Morosi. Hwang, 29, didn’t draw significant interest when posted by his team last winter. But he’s now an unrestricted free agent and coming off a career year, which could allow him to make an impact in this year’s relatively weak class.
Hwang slashed .330/.391/.558 with 26 home runs last season, and his durability earned him one of KBO’s longest streaks for consecutive games played. A more in-depth scouting report is available from Sung Min Kim of FanRag, and after targeting specific areas for improvement following MLB teams’ lack of interest in him and his posting fee last year, he can mean something in a class of third baseman that will likely offer essentially nothing but Justin Turner and Luis Valbuena.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now