Add another name to the lengthy list of free agent closer-types.
While the Blue Jays announced their decision today to pick up Edwin Encarnacion’s $3.5 million option for 2012, they also declined Jon Rauch’s $3.75 million option.
Rauch, who qualifies as a Type B free agent, will receive a $250,000 buyout. The 33-year-old right-hander posted a 4.85 ERA, 11 saves and a 36/14 K/BB ratio over 52 innings this season before undergoing surgery on his right knee in September. Frank Francisco will also be a free agent this winter, so the Blue Jays figure to have a new closer in 2012.
As for Encarnacion, his return was expected. The 28-year-old is still a man without a position, but he batted .272/.334/.453 with 17 home runs this season, including 11 homers and an .887 OPS during an impressive second half surge. Assuming Alex Anthopoulos doesn’t attempt to sign David Ortiz, Encarnacion should serve as the primary designated hitter in 2012.
The Blue Jays placed right-hander Aaron Sanchez on the 10-day disabled list with a contusion in his right index finger, per a team announcement on Saturday. The assignment is retroactive to Friday. In a corresponding move, righty Marcus Stroman was activated from the DL (right shoulder fatigue) and will take the mound for the Blue Jays at 9:07 PM ET tonight.
Sanchez, 25, is in his fifth season with the club. He hasn’t looked his sharpest so far this year, going 3-5 in 15 starts with a career-worst 4.52 ERA, 5.1 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 through 79 2/3 innings. It’s not yet clear how long he’ll be sidelined, though he could miss as little as one turn in the rotation before returning to the roster in the next week or two.
Sanchez isn’t the only struggling starter in Toronto’s rotation, either. Per MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm, the team placed southpaw Jaime Garcia on the DL (right shoulder tenderness) as well, with lefty reliever Tim Mayza scheduled to take his spot on the roster. In 13 starts this season, Garcia carried a 2-6 record, 6.16 ERA, 4.5 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 61 1/3 innings. Any further decisions pertaining to the rotation — including Tuesday’s starter against the Astros — have yet to be publicly addressed.