There’s a buzz about the new-look Blue Jays in Toronto, as evidenced by the high-energy sell-out crowd of 48,857 that packed Rogers Centre for Tuesday night’s opener against the Indians.
But what that crowd witness wasn’t very pretty.
J.P. Arencibia had a hard time with R.A. Dickey’s knuckler, allowing three passed balls as the Indians raced to a 4-1 lead before Dickey departed at the end of the sixth inning. Dickey walked four batters and surrendered five hits, and Arencibia’s mistakes ensured that those baserunners proved costly.
Cleveland was able to maintain that 4-1 lead.
The Blue Jays acquired catcher Josh Thole from the Mets in this winter’s seven-player Dickey trade but sent him to Triple-A Buffalo last week. If Arencibia doesn’t improve next time out and current backup Henry Blanco can’t handle Dickey’s signature pitch either, Thole may have to be added to the 25-man roster.
Arencibia has 41 home runs in his last 231 games, but he has never been much of a defender.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
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 Austin–Greg 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.