Bautista set to decline Blue Jays’ qualifying offer

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. (Mark Blinch/CP)

TORONTO – Jose Bautista will decline the Toronto Blue Jays‘ qualifying offer Monday, choosing the open market over the security of a one-year, $17.2-million contract according to an industry source.

Edwin Encarnacion‘s also expected to decline his qualifying offer, by the 5 p.m. ET deadline. If both players sign elsewhere—a real possibility following the signing of Kendrys Morales—the Blue Jays would obtain two picks in the 2017 amateur draft as compensation.

Knee and toe injuries limited Bautista to 116 games in 2016, but he still hit 22 home runs with a .366 on-base percentage and has now hit at least 20 home runs with an on-base percentage above .350 in seven consecutive seasons. He just turned 36 years old, but has continued to play the field regularly, with 90 starts in right field this past season.

Bautista has also performed well in the playoffs, with a .904 OPS and six career home runs, including his iconic ‘bat flip’ home run in the 2015 ALDS. The Mets and Yankees reportedly have some interest in signing the six-time all-star, and the Boston Red Sox look like another potential suitor.

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