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:

José Ramirez’s 17-pitch at-bat kickstarts Indians’ five-run comeback in ninth inning

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With his team trailing 8-3 to begin the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros, Indians third baseman José Ramirez eventually won a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles, ripping a double off of the wall in right field. The Indians would go on to score five runs on seven hits to tie the game against Giles and Hector Rondon. Ramirez almost won the game in his second at-bat of the ninth inning, but first basebamn Yuli Gurriel made a terrific diving catch on a line drive otherwise headed for the right field corner.

Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record for the longest at-bat last month, seeing 21 pitches against the Angels’ Jaime Barria. The Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez sfaw 20 pitches from the Indians’ Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, which was the previous record. Kevin Bass saw 19 pitches from the Phillies’ Steve Bedrosian in 1988. There have also been five 18-pitch at-bats from Brian Downing, Bip Roberts, Alex Cora, Adam Kennedy, and Marcus Semien.

Sunday’s game wound up going 14 innings. The Astros pulled ahead 9-8 in the top of the 13th on a solo home run from Evan Gattis. However, the Indians’ Yonder Alonso responded with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 13th to re-knot the game at 9-9. Greg Allen then lifted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 14th to give the Indians a 10-9 win.

After Sunday’s effort, Ramirez is batting .292/.389/.605 with 15 home runs, 37 RBI, 34 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, his 3.5 Wins Above Replacement ranks third across baseball behind Mike Trout (4.4) and Mookie Betts (4.1). They’re the only players at three wins or above.