Jays plan to use Encarnacion as utility player
The infielder who mostly was the designated hitter for Toronto last season played 36 games at third base and 25 at first, along with 70 as the designated hitter.
General manager Alex Anthopoulous says the 28 year-old Encarnacion will add the outfield to his repertoire by playing left field this winter.
''The fact that Edwin can play multiple positions, and now he's going to be playing some left field in winter ball as well, will open up some flexibility,'' Anthopoulos said in a conference call Tuesday. ''As we sit here today, the role would primarily be DH but we like he can play some first, play some third and we'd like to find out a little bit more about him in left field.''
Anthopoulos said it is possible that the Blue Jays could add a designated hitter in the offseason.
''We still have the flexibility if the DH spot comes open or someone becomes available, to go down that path,'' he said. ''I will say it's very low on the priority list and we have a lot of other areas we'd rather address first.''
The Blue Jays picked up a $3.5 million option on Encarnacion on Monday. By the end of the season, Encarnacion routinely batted a spot or two behind slugger Jose Bautista. He hit .272 with 36 doubles, 17 home runs and 55 RBIs.
The one thing Anthopoulos said he didn't want to do is to include Encarnacion in a left-field-by-committee situation.
''I wouldn't want to see him on the right-handed side of a platoon strictly because it would limit the number of at-bats,'' Anthopoulos said. ''If he's only facing left-handers it would severely limit the at-bats that he'd get over the course of a season.
''We'd like to try to get him at-bats wherever we can, unless we have the opportunity to upgrade as we go through the offseason,'' he added.
Also, Anthopoulos wasn't sure if reliever Jon Rauch will be back. The Blue Jays declined the 6-foot-10 right-hander's $3.75 million option for next season on Monday.
''We haven't closed the door on Jon being back with the club because there's a lot of things that he does that we like, the strike throwing ability, the makeup of the player and all those things,'' said Anthopoulos. ''It's just right now, at the option price, we didn't want to lock ourselves into that contract at this stage.''