Who will be this winter’s Kyle Lohse?

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Attached to draft pick compensation, right-hander Kyle Lohse waited out the entire winter before eventually landing a three-year, $33 million contract from the Brewers in March. A Scott Boras client, he was reportedly aiming for a three-year, $45 million deal at the start of the offseason, but his market was severely limited due to the draft pick situation. Could we see a repeat this winter with a different Boras client?

In a preview of next week’s Winter Meetings, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com quotes executives who believe that Kendrys Morales will have a hard time finding a deal in this market.

Kendrys Morales: In a market almost devoid of power, you would think Morales would be a popular figure. But he, too, has that lose-a-draft-pick stigma attached. And NL teams view him, for the most part, as a guy who needs to stay in the AL because of health and defense worries. So almost no one saw him signing any time soon.

“He’s in trouble,” said one AL exec. And one NL executive made it clear how much he agreed — by picking March 20 as Morales’ signing date, unless the Mariners strike out on the other bats they’re chasing and bring him back. “I think he has all the makings,” the exec said, “of this year’s Kyle Lohse.”

This isn’t really a second-guessing situation, as many thought that Morales was better off accepting the one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Mariners rather than testing free agency. He has mostly been a DH since his lower leg injury, so he’s best-suited for the American League. That cuts the number of potential fits right away. Add in the draft pick, and well, Morales could be waiting a while.

Morales, 30, hit .277/.336/.449 with 23 home runs and 80 RBI over 156 games this past season.

Manoah, Merrifield lead Blue Jays to 3-1 win over Rays

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Alek Manoah pitched seven shutout innings, Whit Merrifield hit a three-run homer and the Toronto Blue Jays regained the top AL wild-card spot with a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.

The Blue Jays lead Tampa Bay by one game. The top wild card finisher will host all games in their best-of-three opening-round series, while the other two wild cards play strictly on the road.

Manoah (15-7) scattered four hits, walked two and struck out eight while throwing a season-high 113 pitches. The righty worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth by striking out Randy Arozarena and getting a flyout from David Peralta.

Jordan Romano replaced Tim Mayza with two on and two outs in the eighth and allowed pinch-hitter Harold Ramirez‘s RBI infield single but avoided further damage by striking out Manuel Margot. Romano finished the game to get his 35th save in 41 chances.

Tampa Bay starter Drew Rasmussen (10-7) gave up one run, three hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five.

The teams combined for 31 runs, with the Rays accounting for 20, in the first two games of the series that were both won by Tampa Bay.

Arozarena got the Rays’ first hit off Manoah with a two-out double in the fourth. He became the first Tampa Bay player and 20th big leaguer to have 40 doubles, 20 homers and 30 stolen bases in a season.

Teoscar Hernandez ended Rasmussen’s night with a double in the seventh. Brooks Raley entered and, after a walk to pinch-hitter Danny Jansen, Merrifield made it 3-0 on his 10th homer of the season.

Merrifield homered twice in Thursday night’s 10-5 loss to the Rays.

Alejandro Kirk opened the second with a single before Rasmussen retired 12 in a row until Merrifield’s leadoff double in the sixth.

Plate umpire Corey Blaser took a hard foul ball by Margot on the mask in the eighth but remained in the game.

HONORING KK

The Rays posted a thank you on the message board for CF Kevin Kiermaier, who is out for the season following left hip surgery. Kiermaier is in the final season of a $53.5 million, six-year contract that includes a club option for 2023 that is expected to be declined.

TEAM AWARDS

Rays ace Shane McClanahan was voted the Don Zimmer MVP award winner by members of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. CF Jose Siri was selected as the outstanding rookie. 3B Yandy Diaz received the Paul C. Smith Champions award as the player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson (lat strain) allowed three runs and three hits over two-thirds of an inning for Triple-A Buffalo.

Rays: 2B Brandon Lowe (lower back) is done for the season.

UP NEXT

McClanahan (12-6), pulled from his start Tuesday in the fifth inning due to neck tightness, will face Blue Jays RHP Ross Stripling (8-4) on Sunday.