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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Anthopoulos: Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista can be like our Manny, Ortiz

Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has been as busy as any executive in baseball this offseason. Anthopoulos signed Melky Cabrera to a two-year, $16 million deal, and he completed a blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins that should make Toronto a real contender in the AL.

The Jays GM joined WEEI radio in Boston to discuss his team’s offseason, and he helped explain the thinking behind the Marlins trade. He believes the team has some offensive cornerstones that he wants to build around.

“I think two key players for us are Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, they’re two guys that are 30 and 31 years old. They’re in the prime of their career. I don’t know the next time if ever that as a GM I’m going to have two 40-home run hitters in the middle of a lineup,” Anthopoulos said on WEEI’s Hot Stove Show Thursday.

“They’re both under control for the next four years in the prime of their careers. We have to take advantage of that. As great as some of these young players are, I don’t know that they’re going to get up here and be impactful big league players in time to take advantage of those guys being in their primes. If it’s three or four years from now, they’re already gone. We’ve got to take advantage of having two premium middle-of-the-order power hitters. They’re so hard to find. I think of obviously Manny (Ramirez) and (David) Ortiz all those years in the AL East. That was an incredible combo, and I think Bautista and Encarnacion have a chance to be comparable to those two.”

Encarnacion blossomed in his third full season with the team. The 29-year-old bashed 42 home runs and is signed through 2015 (with an option for 2016). Bautista had back-to-back 40-plus home run seasons, and hit 27 home runs in 92 games last season. He is 32 years old, coming off a wrist injury, and is signed through 2015 with an option for 2016.

Though Bautista has been a slugger on the level of Manny and Ortiz the past few years, Encarnacion has only posted one season of that caliber, so I have some reservations about that comparison. Still, Anthopoulos’ point is well taken. Anthopoulos believes the Jays’ window to win is now. The team is coming off a 73-89 season and is due for a major improvement. Not only will they have Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, and Melky Cabrera, but hopefully Bautista and pitcher Ricky Romero will return to form. They certainly have the makings of a 90-win team.



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