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Report: Blue Jays will give qualifying offers to Bautista, Encarnacion

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According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Blue Jays are expected to extend qualifying offers of $17.2 million to first baseman/designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion and right fielder Jose Bautista. Both players are pending free agency, and Heyman notes that while the Blue Jays will likely make a concentrated effort to retain Encarnacion, they appear more ambivalent about Bautista’s return to the club.

Encarnacion was unable to reach a happy medium with the Blue Jays prior to the beginning of the 2016 season, when both sides sat down to negotiate a contract extension. He worked through an oblique injury in spring training and returned for a monster season in Toronto, batting .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs and a league-best 127 RBI. His walk-off home run in Game 162 carried the Blue Jays to the postseason, where he hit .286/.359/.571 in 39 PA through the ALCS.

Bautista is not expected to command as much in free agency as Encarnacion, partly due to his decline during the 2016 season. The 36-year-old hit .234/.366/.452 in 517 PA with the club, racking up 22 home runs and 69 RBI. He was charged with a one-game suspension after making an illegal slide against the Rangers’ Rougned Odor back in May, which led to a benches-clearing brawl and an eight-game suspension for Odor. In June, Bautista missed nearly six weeks with an injured toe and returned in the second half to bat .239/.372/.447 through his last 231 PA of the regular season. His bat went cold during the Blue Jays’ playoff run, however, generating a .182 average, two home runs, and 12 strikeouts in 39 PA.

Should Encarnacion and Bautista turn down their qualifying offers, as is expected, the Blue Jays will receive compensatory draft picks in the event that the players sign elsewhere. Per Heyman’s tweet, the Blue Jays are unlikely to tender a qualifying offer to fellow outfielder and pending free agent Michael Saunders.

Astros’ Verlander to have elbow surgery, miss rest of season

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Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the rest of the season.

The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner announced the news Saturday on his Instagram account in a 1½-minute video.

“In my simulated game a couple days ago, I felt something in my elbow, and after looking at my MRI and conversing with some of the best doctors in the world, we’ve determined that Tommy John surgery is my best option,” Verlander said.

He threw to hitters on Wednesday for the first time since he was injured in the team’s opener on July 24. He threw 50 pitches in the bullpen before throwing about 25 pitches to hitters in two simulated innings.

“I tried as hard as I could to come back and play this season,” Verlander said. “Unfortunately, my body just didn’t cooperate.”

Verlander has been on the injured list with a right forearm strain. He went 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA in 2019.

“Obviously, this is not good news,” Verlander said. “However, I’m going to handle this the only way I know how. I’m optimistic. I’m going to put my head down, work hard, attack this rehab and hopefully, come out the other side better for it.

“I truly believe everything that everything happens for a reason, and although 2020 has sucked, hopefully, when this rehab process is all said and done, this will allow me to charge through the end of my career and be healthy as long as I want and pitch as long as I want and accomplish some of the goals that I want in my career.”

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