Edwin Encarnacion returns to Toronto after a brief detour

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Toronto placed Edwin Encarnacion on waivers in mid-November and he was claimed by Oakland only to non-tendered three weeks later. And now he’s back with the Blue Jays, agreeing to a one-year, $2.5 million deal with a 2012 team option worth $3.5 million.

It was an odd little journey for Encarnacion, but basically the moves boiled down to the Blue Jays not wanting to give him a raise on his $4.75 million salary via arbitration. Instead of non-tendering him they placed him on waivers and the A’s essentially let him sit on the 40-man roster for a few weeks while they decided what to do at third base, eventually agreeing that he wasn’t worth $5 million.

Ultimately it looks like a smart series of events for the Blue Jays, as they retain Encarnacion for about half of what he would’ve made through the arbitration process and also get a reasonable 2012 option out of the deal.

Encarnacion has proven to be a pretty awful defensive third baseman, but Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports that the Blue Jays will likely use him mostly as a first baseman and designated hitter. His offense has also been inconsistent, but Encarnacion has averaged 25 homers per 550 at-bats for his career and should be good for an OPS around .800 if healthy. As usual, Jack Black is very excited about the re-signing:

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.