Even with the MLB playoffs ongoing, many MLB fans are beginning to look ahead to the offseason and speculate where the biggest stars might land.

Justin Turner, Kenley Jansen and Edwin Encarnacion are three of the most talented players available. They’re all still playing in the postseason, but that hasn’t stopped a flurry of rumors regarding their respective futures.

Below are updates on Turner, Jansen and Encarnacion‘s impending free agency.


Justin Turner

Turner had the best regular season of his career in 2016. Even at 31 years old, he’s poised to receive a hefty contract when he enters free agency in the offseason.

Rather than being excited about his future payday, Turner said in September he’ll be happier when it’s over, according to the Orange County Register‘s Bill Plunkett:

I guess everyone’s cut from a different cloth. I personally don’t look forward to it. Obviously, I’ll be excited when it’s over with. But that whole process is the part of baseball I could do without. The process of playing the game, the preparation of getting ready for the games—that’s what I love about it. The process of the off-the-field stuff is not very fun.

In the same interview, Turner confirmed he had had preliminary contract talks with the Dodgers but didn’t make any long-term commitment to Los Angeles: “There’s been some dialogue back and forth, but it didn’t go anywhere. I was open to it to see what they had to say. I let my agent do most of it. I’m not trying to worry too much about it.”

On Sunday, Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball reported the signs point to Turner hitting the open market.

For the right price, re-signing Turner makes sense for the Dodgers. He tied for the team lead in home runs (27) and runs batted in (90). According to FanGraphs, he also finished sixth among qualified third basemen in defensive runs saved (seven) and first in ultimate zone rating per 150 games (17.2).

Los Angeles will have to think long and hard about for how much and how long it’s willing to commit to Turner, though. His performance shouldn’t drastically decline in 2017, but he’s unlikely to improve significantly over the next few years.

The Dodgers weren’t willing to match the Arizona Diamondbacks’ contract for Zack Greinke, and it looks like they dodged a major bullet. Although bidding for Turner won’t reach Greinke-like levels, it’s easy to see Los Angeles opting against re-signing him if he’s receiving significant offers elsewhere.

In terms of his next possible destination, this could be a chance for the Atlanta Braves to make a statement, similar to when the perennially mediocre Washington Nationals inked a 31-year-old Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million deal.

The Braves are moving into SunTrust Park next year, so it’s important for the team to show fans that it’s taking steps in the right direction. Another 60-win season will quickly blunt the excitement of the new ballpark.

Signing Turner wouldn’t make the Braves a contender overnight, but he’d be a massive upgrade at third over Adonis Garcia. His arrival would also be a sign from ownership that it’s willing to spend what’s necessary to turn Atlanta around.

Prediction: Turner signs with Braves.


Kenley Jansen

Ever since Guggenheim Baseball Management took ownership of the Dodgers from Frank McCourt in 2012, the group has spared no expense to bring a World Series to Los Angeles.

Here’s a look at where the team’s total payroll ranked each year from 2013 to 2016, per Spotrac:

According to Heyman, though, the Dodgers may be looking to trim their spending slightly in the years to come, which could mean allowing free agents such as Turner, Jansen, Josh Reddick and Rich Hill to walk in free agency:

Anyway, it’s reasonable to think that the Dodgers, with their emphasis on youth, their collection of top prospects and their consideration to be below the threshold in the future, could be outbid for one or more of their top free agents. One rival official who has some familiarity with their inner workings predicted they could wind up re-signing none of them, though in a later conversation seemed to amend that, saying, ‘I don’t know who’s going to close if they don’t keep Kenley.’

Between the regular season he had and postseason he’s having, failing to re-sign Jansen would be a mistake for the Dodgers.

Beyond his 47 saves, Jansen averaged 13.6 strikeouts per nine innings and posted a 1.83 earned-run average. His 1.44 FIP was second-lowest among qualified relievers behind Aroldis Chapman, per FanGraphs.

The 29-year-old melted down in Game 3 of the National League Division Series, which was a non-save situation. In his 15.2 innings outside that appearance, he has allowed zero runs in the 2016 playoffs.

Of course, the importance of an elite closer can be overstated at times. It’s also fair to question how much longer Jansen can continue pitching like he has this season. Craig Kimbrel’s last few seasons are evidence as to how quickly things can take a turn for the worse for a top-end closer.

With that said, the Dodgers will be a World Series contender again in 2017, even if they plan on relying on some of their talented prospects. As such, Los Angeles will need to have somebody upon whom it can rely in the ninth inning.

Failing to re-sign Jansen would force the Dodgers to find a replacement who in all likelihood would be a major downgrade.

Unless another team comes in with a crazy offer for the 2016 All-Star, Los Angeles should do everything it can to ensure he remains with the team for the long term.

Prediction: Jansen re-signs with Dodgers.


Edwin Encarnacion

This will be an interesting offseason for the Toronto Blue Jays. Both Encarnacion and Jose Bautista are free agents. The former is 33 and the latter is 35.

In June, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported Toronto doesn’t plan on re-signing either player to long-term deals in the offseason.

If the past is any indication, both sluggers will be playing elsewhere in 2017.

During his time with the Cleveland Indians, Blue Jays team president Mark Shapiro routinely traded or declined to re-sign the team’s priciest veterans. According to TSN’s Rick Westhead, Shapiro was upset then-general manager Alex Anthopoulos offloaded so many top prospects in trades to acquire David Price and Troy Tulowitzki.

While Shapiro is unlikely to want a complete rebuild in Toronto, he may instruct general manager Ross Atkins—another Indians transplant—against spending extravagantly on two hitters in their mid-30s.

Should Encarnacion hit the open market, he may not have to change divisions. The Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo reported on Oct. 8 the Boston Red Sox could make a push to sign the first baseman/designated hitter.

On Saturday, Cafardo pictured a future in which Boston used Encarnacion to supplement Hanley Ramirez:

When [president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski] said at his postmortem press conference last week that [Ramirez] could play both first base and DH, that’s probably because [Encarnacion] can do the same. You could have this pair alternate between DH and first base. Encarnacion likes to play the field. Like Ramirez, he’s a below-average first baseman but serviceable. The important thing is both are powerful righthanded bats, especially at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox couldn’t find a better replacement—at least in the short term—for the retiring David Ortiz. Over the last five years, Encarnacion has averaged a little over 38 home runs and 110 RBI a season. According to Baseball-Reference.com, he’s also a .286 hitter with 14 homers and 41 RBI in 50 games at Fenway Park.

Dave Dombrowski has rarely shied away from making major moves to help his teams in the present, which is how he turned the Florida Marlins and Detroit Tigers into World Series contenders. Last offseason, he signed off on committing $217 million to David Price.

Should the Blue Jays turn down the chance to bring Encarnacion back, the Red Sox will likely be first in line to sign him.

Prediction: Encarnacion signs with Red Sox.

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