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.
First baseman/outfielder José Martínez agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Cardinals on Saturday, per a team announcement. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Martínez will receive $3.25 million in the deal plus incentives if he earns a more stable place within the starting lineup.
Martínez, 30, played 887 games in the minors before making his major-league debut with the Cardinals at the tail end of the 2016 season. The veteran first baseman has been nothing but productive in the three years since his debut, however, and turned in a career-best performance in 2018 after slashing .305/.364/.457 with 17 home runs, an .821 OPS, and 2.3 fWAR through 590 plate appearances. While he brings some positional flexibility to the table, he’ll be forced to compete against Dexter Fowler and Tyler O'Neill for a full-time gig in right field this year, as Paul Goldschmidt currently has a lock on first base.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the extension wasn’t solely precipitated by Martínez’s productivity in the majors, but by a competing offer from an unnamed Japanese team over the offseason. Goold adds that Martínez would have earned “significantly more than he would in the majors” had the club sold his rights. In the end, they ultimately elected to ink him to a more lucrative deal themselves. He’ll be eligible for arbitration in 2020.