Blue Jays Rumors: Encarnacion Likely to Become Available

Jun 16, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion (10) bats against the Philadelphia Phillies at the Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays beat the Phillies 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Toronto Blue Jays first baseman/designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion could emerge as the top slugger on trade market this summer, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion, a free agent after the year, could emerge as the top slugger on the trade market.

Toronto is for the moment trying to piece together a starting rotation beset by injuries, but the depleted staff has caused them to fall back to .500 and 8 1/2 games out in the tough American League East and five out in the wild-card race), raising the possibility they will become sellers at some point.

Encarnacion, 29, has hit .285/.360/.574 this season with 22 home runs, 14 doubles and 54 RBIs. He’s owed $3.5 million this year and is set to hit free agency following the season.

Heyman believes Encarnacion’s value on the trade market would be high due to the lack of impact hitters expected to be available. Beyond Encarnacion, Heyman speculates Toronto could look to trade veterans such as second baseman Kelly Johnson, left-handed reliever Darren Oliver and outfielder Rajai Davis if they decide to become sellers this summer.

Even if the Blue Jays don’t decide to sell, Heyman could see Toronto using Encarnacion as trade bait for rotation help. Toronto recently lost starters Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchinson and Brandon Morrow to injury.

The Blue Jays have lost three consecutive games and are 8 ½ games behind the American League East-leading New York Yankees. Still, the club is playing .500 baseball, with an overall record of 38-38, and is within 3 ½ games of the final wild-card spot.

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