We heard last month that Edwin Encarnacion was going to play some left field during winter ball. Well, the experiment is officially underway.
According to a report in the Toronto Sun, Encarnacion has played left field in four out of his first five games with Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican Winter League.
Encarnacion proved to be pretty terrible with the glove at the hot corner, so he mostly split time between first base and designated hitter this past season. He’ll obviously be much more useful if he can add left field to his resume, though the Blue Jays already have plenty of options for their outfield with Jose Bautista, Colby Rasmus, Eric Thames, Travis Snider, Rajai Davis and the recently-acquired Ben Francisco. Toronto’s GM Alex Anthopoulos said earlier this month that even second baseman Kelly Johnson could get a look out there.
Encarnacion, who turns 29 in January, batted .272/.334/.453 with 17 home runs, 55 RBI and a .787 OPS this past season. He posted an .887 OPS after the All-Star break.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.