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Encarnacion back with Blue Jays Add to ...

The Toronto Blue Jays are moving forward with Adam Lind as their first baseman, a switch insured by the return of Edwin Encarnacion.



General manager Alex Anthopoulos re-signed the hard-hitting but oft-injured infielder to a US$2.5-million, one-year deal announced Thursday that includes a $3.5-million club option for 2012.



Lost on waivers last month to the Oakland Athletics, who later cut him loose by non-tendering him, Encarnacion returns to the Blue Jays as a designated hitter who can take over at first if Lind flops in the field.



Lyle Overbay's departure via free agency left the Blue Jays with a hole to fill at first base and Lind, who played 76 innings over 11 games at the position in 2010, was their only real internal candidate.



Over the past few weeks the idea of giving Lind a chance to take over in the field began growing on the club, but they wanted to pick up someone who could both replace Lind at DH and handle first if needed.



Encarnacion, who batted .244 with 21 home runs and 51 RBIs in 96 games last season, fit the bill.



"We're pretty much done at those spots right now," said Anthopoulos.



Not done is the situation at third base, Encarnacion's old position.



Aside from perhaps the odd start, or in the event of injury, he won't play there at all, and while the Blue Jays would like to keep Jose Bautista in right field, they may end up using him to plug the hole at third, where the home run king played 48 games this year.



That still remains to be sorted.



"We're not prepared to make a determination yet as to who's playing third base," said Anthopoulos. "We're still in talks with a lot of players and trades, so we're really keeping our options at this point."



The same applies to the outfield and the bullpen, two other areas where the Blue Jays "continue to explore," according to the GM.



One area that seems more set in stone is catcher, where top prospect J.P. Arencibia and veteran Jose Molina appear likely to share the work. The Blue Jays spoke to Canadian catcher Russ Martin, who can also play first and third, but he ended up signing with the New York Yankees.



"Are we actively seeking someone (at catcher)? I don't know if we're active in that respect," said Anthopoulos. "The fact that we have Molina and Arencibia means it's not a need. If we have a chance to upgrade and improve ourselves, like in any other spot, we would look to do that."



The only need the team has, according to Anthopoulos, is for the bench, which right now only includes infielder John McDonald.



So while some additions are coming, the Blue Jays may not end up looking all that different than they did in 2010. Speedy outfielder Rajai Davis is the one big-league addition of note, although full seasons from shortstop Yunel Escobar, Travis Snider and J.P. Arencibia may help provide the lineup with more of the offensive diversity new manager John Farrell is seeking.



Anthopoulos believes Encarnacion may end up helping on that front, too.



"We just think there's a lot of upside to his bat," he said. "He's still very young, he does not strike out, the walk rate is not bad, probably around league average or so, hits left-handers very well (something in) which we were last in the American League. We all know the raw power is there, we've seen it. The home runs are not wall-scrapers by any stretch.



"When you look at the value and the upside that we have in this deal, also being able to insure developing Adam Lind at first base ... this just gives us a lot of flexibility."

 

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