Three teams that could target Blue Jays free agent Edwin Encarnacion

MLB insider Jon Paul Morosi discusses the Jose Bautista-Boston rumours, and comes up with 3 possible free agent destinations for Edwin Encarnacion other than Toronto.

It’s tough for Toronto Blue Jays fans to imagine life without Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, but the likelihood the team brings back both of the pending free agents is slim.

Encarnacion equaled a career high with 42 home runs in 2016 and tied David Ortiz for the American League lead in RBI with 127. This is going to result in a lucrative deal — likely at least $20 million per season — no matter where he ends up.

MLB insider Jon Paul Morosi believes there are three frontrunners for the Dominican designated hitter and first baseman.

“For Edwin, I think Boston is still in the mix,” Morosi told Dean Blundell & Co. on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Wednesday. “I look at the Houston Astros as being strongly in the mix and I think you have to say the Yankees because they need some more pop. Those are the teams that make the most sense.”

The Yankees struggled at the plate in 2016, ranking 19th in home runs (183), 20th in batting average (.252), 21st in slugging percentage (.405) and 24th in OPS (.720). Houston hit 230 home runs in 2015 (second behind only the Blue Jays that year) but that number fell to 198 in 2016. There’s no doubting Encarnacion would be a boon to those lineups. The Red Sox didn’t have any trouble driving in runs, but Jon Heyman said last month that they were “the most likely landing spot” for the 33-year-old.

Morosi mentioned he wouldn’t be surprised if Bautista joined the Red Sox, potentially as their DH.

“I do think there’s a fair chance that the Red Sox wind up with one former Blue Jay, I’m just not entirely sure yet who that’s going to be,” he said.

Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi wrote Monday the Texas Rangers could also be another potential suitor. Still, it’s not a forgone conclusion Encarnacion will join a new team.

“I still think it’s possible the Jays are in the mix,” Morosi added. “There are so many different aspects, so many things that [make this team successful]. What does Mark Shapiro want to do? What does Ross Atkins want to do? What does ownership want to do?”

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