The MLB postseason is quickly approaching, but many teams around the league already have their sights set on the offseason and potential improvements before the 2017 campaign.

After all, the World Series dreams have been extinguished for plenty of squads, leaving them with no choice but to focus on the long-term future. What’s more, even the contenders need to pay attention to the upcoming offseason if they hope to remain in favorable position beyond just this year. 

With that in mind, here is a look at some of the latest rumors from around the league and predictions for where some impending free agents will land before the 2017 season.


Blue Jays Sluggers Set to Hit the Open Market

As of Tuesday, the Toronto Blue Jays were tied for fifth in all of baseball in total runs scored, per However, they may lose two key players in their powerful lineup this offseason.

According to Jeff Blair of Sportsnet, Edwin Encarnacion “is going to have a larger market than some expect because there are at least a couple of National League teams who view him as an everyday first baseman.”

Blair also discussed free-agent-to-be Jose Bautista, although he allowed that “more teams think Encarnacion can play first base everyday than think Bautista can still be an effective right fielder.”

Blair pointed out whether Encarnacion even wants to play first base full time will impact his free-agency decisions. Blair predicted the Houston Astros would pursue the slugger and noted “the fact Texas has no state income tax will help them since Encarnacion will want to keep as much as possible from what is likely his first and last big payday.”

Encarnacion will be 34 years old next season and does have experience in the National League from his time on the Cincinnati Reds (2005-09). However, he was a younger player at the time, and staying in the American League would give him the opportunity to prolong his career and continue mashing home runs as a designated hitter.

He can use the National League interest as leverage when negotiating with an Astros team that can use the absence of a state income tax as a selling point.

What’s more, Minute Maid Park in Houston has an inviting short porch in left field. According to, the left field wall is just 315 feet away, which is likely enticing to Encarnacion considering he has at least 34 home runs in each of the last five seasons. He’s already surpassed 40 in 2016, which marks the second time he’s done so in that five-year span.

As for Bautista, he will be 36 years old next season and apparently won’t have the same market pull as Encarnacion to use as leverage.

That’s not to say a power hitter who drilled 40 home runs last year won’t generate interest on the open market, but his numbers have declined this year. As of Tuesday, he had 21 home runs and 67 RBI after drilling 40 and 114 last year, respectively. He also sported a .238 batting average, which would be his lowest mark since 2009.

The Blue Jays will lose Encarnacion this offseason and won’t want to watch another face of their franchise leave in Bautista. They will take advantage of the lesser market and keep the powerful slugger in their lineup next year with some of the money they could have used on Encarnacion

Prediction: Encarnacion heads to Houston; Bautista stays put in Toronto.


Lourdes Gurriel Attracting Attention from Notable Contenders

Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball noted Cuban prospect Lourdes Gurriel already had “a successful open showcase” and will have private workouts with the Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros and Miami Marlins, among others.

Heyman described Gurriel as a “shortstop by trade” but someone who is versatile enough to play at third base or the outfield. Considering he is 6’4”, he could move from shortstop to another position by the time he reaches the major league level.

Gurriel is No. 6 on’s international prospects list, which said he is “a good runner with a good glove” and “athletic enough to play infield or outfield, which is part of his appeal to scouts.”

The prospect slashed .277/.362/.426 with 27 home runs and 23 stolen bases during six seasons in Cuba, per Heyman.

Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors pointed out Gurriel is subject to international bonus pools for the time being, but that will no longer be the case on Oct. 19 when he turns 23 years old.

“At that point, he’ll be free to sign with any MLB club for any amount, so the Red Sox will have a shot at him even though they’re currently restricted in their signings of players that are subject to international bonus restrictions,” Adams wrote.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported in July that MLB banned Boston from signing international players for a year because it “circumvented signing-bonus rules.”

The fact Gurriel won’t be subject to the restrictions is key here, especially since the Red Sox will look to take advantage of their limited opportunity to make an impact on the international market this offseason. They will jump at the chance to do so with Gurriel and make him one of their primary acquisitions before the 2017 campaign.

Prediction: Red Sox sign Gurriel.

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