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Toronto Blue Jays exercise options on three players

The Blue Jays will be bringing back three veterans for 2016.

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Toronto Blue Jays have exercised contract options for 2016 on outfielder Jose Bautista, first baseman Edwin Encarnacion and pitcher R.A. Dickey, the team announced today:

The three options total $36 million in salary obligations for Toronto next season, bringing the Blue Jays' total payroll commitments to $71 million in 2016 prior to salary arbitration hearings.

Bautista will make $14 million next season, completing a contract that will wind up paying him $78 million over six seasons. The 34-year-old hit .250/.377/.536 in 2015 with 40 home runs in 153 games, earning his sixth consecutive All-Star appearance.

After the 2013 season, Dickey signed a contract extension with Toronto that will total $36 million over three years after the Blue Jays picked up his $12 million option for 2016. He had a 3.91 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 214⅓ innings this season, walking 61 and striking out 126. The 40-year-old knuckleballer has a 3.95 ERA in 101 starts over his three seasons with Toronto.

Encarnacion's option is the cheapest of the three at $10 million, which will wrap up a four-year, $37 million dollar contract for the slugger. Encarnacion hit .277/.372/.557 in 2015 with 39 home runs in 528 at bats. It was his fourth consecutive season with at least 34 home runs.

Bringing back those three key pieces significantly lessens the task for Toronto in free agency, though the decision to exercise the options on at least Bautista and Encarnacion was an easy one to make. Toronto choosing to exercise Dickey's $12 million option was more surprising, though easier to see with the Blue Jays likely losing David Price to free agency.