Brett Lawrie tearing the cover off the ball in Florida

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22-year-old Brett Lawrie did it again Sunday, going 3-for-3 against the Braves to raise his average to .579.

Toronto’s third baseman is 11-for-19 and has already collected five doubles this spring.

Lawrie was one of the AL’s best hitters after debuting at the tender age of 21 last August, batting .293/.373/.580 with nine homers and 25 RBI in 43 games. He ended up with 150 at-bats, so he won’t be eligible for Rookie of the Year honors this season. Perhaps he’ll just set his sights on the MVP award instead.

The Jays’ plan is to hit Lawrie seventh initially, with Adam Lind, Edwin Encarnacion and Colby Rasmus likely to follow No. 3 hitter Jose Bautista. Still, it’s worth wondering how long that will last. Everyone in that group of candidates to bat behind Bautista has significant upside, but Lawrie’s potential probably dwarfs them all.

Japanese outfielder Yoshida to negotiate with MLB teams

Masataka Yoshida
Yukihito Taguchi/USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO — Outfielder Masataka Yoshida will be able to negotiate with Major League Baseball teams starting Wednesday under the posting system with the Japanese big leagues.

A member of Japan’s Olympic team last year, Yoshida will be posted at 8 a.m. EST on Wednesday and MLB teams have until 5 p.m. EST on Jan. 20 to reach an agreement, the commissioner’s office said Tuesday.

The 29-year-old hit .335 with 21 homers and 88 RBIs in 119 games this year for the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Pacific League. A left-handed batter, he has a .327 average with 133 homers and 467 RBIs over seven seasons in the Japanese majors.

Yoshida hit .350 with two RBIs as Japan won last year’s Olympic gold medal.

Under 2017 changes to the posting system, the posting fee will be 20% of the first $25 million of a major league contract, including earned bonuses and options. The percentage drops to 17.5% of the next $25 million and 15% of any amount over $50 million. There would be a supplemental fee of 15% of any earned bonuses, salary escalators and exercised options.

Hard-throwing right-hander Kodai Senga, another member of the Olympic team, is a free agent and does not have to go through the posting system because he has 11 seasons of service time in the Japanese major leagues.

Senga, who turns 30 in January, was 11-6 with a 1.94 ERA in 22 starts for the Pacific League’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. He pitched three scoreless innings in two outings against the U.S. in the Olympics, allowing one hit and striking out six with two walks.