Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher James Shields throws against the Texas Rangers in the first inning during Game 2 of their MLB American League Division Series baseball playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington

Rays pick up options on James Shields, Kyle Farnsworth

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The Rays reached decisions on their three option calls Monday afternoon, exercising the $7.5 million option on James Shields’ contract and the $3.3 million option on Kyle Farnsworth’s deal.

Declined was Kelly Shoppach’s $3.2 million option. He’ll get a $300,000 buyout.

Shields’ option was a no-brainer. The Rays also hold options on his services for 2013 ($9 million) and 2014 ($12 million). Shields went 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA last season. He led the majors with 11 complete games and he was second in the AL in innings (249 1/3) and third in ERA.

Farnsworth’s option was also a pretty easy call after he finished with a 2.18 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP in 57 2/3 innings as the team’s closer. It’s doubtful that he’ll be so good again, but for $3.3 million, it’s well worth bringing him back. Plus, the Rays would have had to pay him $650,000 anyway had they declined the option.

Shoppach gets let go despite a late surge that saw him hit four homers in 29 at-bats during September and two more against the Rangers in the ALDS. Shoppach, though, was pretty brutal overall during his two years in Tampa Bay, hitting .185 in 379 at-bats. That did come with 16 homers, but even so, he drove in just 39 runs.

A solid defensive catcher, Shoppach shouldn’t have much difficulty finding work, but he’s probably looking at a paycut to the $1.5 million-$2 million range. The Rays figure to seek a catcher upgrade this winter, though they could re-sign Shoppach if nothing else comes to fruition.

Yankees in, Red Sox out on Edwin Encarnacion

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on against the Cleveland Indians during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler AustinGreg Bird combo in 2017.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.

Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.

Report: The Nationals are still in on Chris Sale and Andrew McCutchen

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 05: Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning on September 5, 2016 at U. S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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The Nationals are trying to go big this offseason, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that they are still in trade talks for White Sox’ left-hander Chris Sale and Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Both players figure to command a big return, as Sale delivered another Cy Young-worthy performance in 2016 and, despite a downturn in his production rate, McCutchen is still one of the more coveted sluggers in the National League.

In 2016, Sale led the league in complete games, with six, and turned in a 3.34 ERA and 5.2 fWAR in 226 2/3 innings. While teams have been sniffing around the White Sox’ ace since the trade deadline, the club is expected to maintain a high asking price — so high, said FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, that it may keep the left-hander in Chicago for the foreseeable future.

According to Heyman, four other teams are reportedly in the mix for Sale, including the Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, and Braves, though parts of Rosenthal’s tweet hinted that the Red Sox were maintaining their interest in hopes of striking a more affordable deal. Should the Nationals pursue a deal for Sale, it’s likely that they’d have to move shortstop/center fielder Trea Turner, which they appear reluctant to do.

McCutchen, meanwhile, is also drawing interest around the league after batting .256/.336/.430 with 24 home runs in 675 PA during 2016. He didn’t appear to lose much power in his eighth season with the Pirates, but took considerably fewer walks and struck out at a career-high clip.

The Nationals were said to be in the lead for McCutchen on Thursday, and there was some expectation that the club would wrap up a trade for the center fielder by the non-tender deadline on Friday. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi pointed out that the Rangers were also talking to the Pirates, however, and no deal has come to fruition as of yet.