Hot Stove Digest: Blue Jays GM hasn't closed door on Edwin Encarnacion return

Welcome to The Stew’s Hot Stove Digest, our daily rundown of MLB news, rumors and gossip for Hot Stove season. Here you’ll find a quick recap of all the day’s action and other fun stuff from around the internet that we think is worth your time.

STILL IN PLAY: After officially announcing a three-year, $33-million deal with veteran Kendrys Morales, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins would not dismiss the possibility of re-signing Edwin Encarnacion. Atkins did acknowledge a reunion is now “slightly less likely, ” but is not off the table.

The market for Encarnacion has heated up quickly with two Blue Jays division rivals, the Red Sox and Yankees, expressing interest. If they manage to turn it into a high stakes bidding war, that would likely remove Toronto from the equation.

Free agent Edwin Encarnacion may be choosing between three AL East teams. (AP)
Free agent Edwin Encarnacion may be choosing between three AL East teams. (AP)

If Encarnacion signs elsewhere, the signing team would forfeit a draft pick, but that would be a small price to pay to add one of baseball’s premier sluggers. Encarnacion hit 42 homers for Toronto in 2016. [@bnicholsonsmith]

ALL ABOUT SALE: The Atlanta Braves are aiming high in their search for starting pitching as they’re reportedly focused on acquiring Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale. The Braves have also been connected to Chris Archer and Sonny Gray in trade speculation, but it appears they won’t pull the trigger on other trades until they’re convinced Sale is no longer in play. Given their minor league system, the Braves should be as well positioned to make a run at Sale. But they’ll undoubtedly face some tough competition. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

ROCK THE CASHNER: The Rangers are nearing a deal with free agent right-hander Andrew Cashner. It’s expected to be a one-year deal worth $10M, and will provide Texas with the extra starting pitching depth they’ve been seeking. In fact, Cashner has been on the Rangers before as a trade target. Now they’ll have him without having to part with a prospect or two. [The Stew]

SELL HIGH: The starting pitching market was thin to begin with in terms of free agency. With several interesting names already off the board, teams are exploring cheap targets. One who fits that description perfectly is Brewers right-hander Junior Guerra, who at 31 enjoyed a remarkable rookie season, posting a 2.81 ERA over 20 starts. Guerra is still pre-arbitration, meaning he’ll be affordable and controllable. Several teams are believed to have interest. [@jonmorosi]

Veteran infielder Trevor Plouffe will have a new home in 2017. (AP)
Veteran infielder Trevor Plouffe will have a new home in 2017. (AP)

NOW AVAILABLE: The Twins placed veteran Trevor Plouffe on outright waivers. If Ploufee clears waivers, which it’s anticipated he will, he’ll become a free agent. Plouffe, 30, is a career .247/.308/.420 hitter over seven big league seasons. [@MikeBerardino]

STICKING AROUND: The Royals are bringing back veteran catcher Drew Butera on a two-year, $3.8M deal. Butera hit .285 with four homers and 16 RBI backing up Salvador Perez last season. He also made two scoreless relief appearances in games the Royals were blown out. [@ChrisCotillo]

MARINERS MOVES: The Seattle Mariners were busy on Friday. First, they acquired a pair of infielder/outfielders in Richie Shaffer and Taylor Motter from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for minor leaguers Dalton Kelly, Andrew Kittredge and Dylan Thompson. They also acquired left-hander James Pazos from the Yankees in exchange for minor league right-hander Zack Littell, before designating veteran reliever Tom Wilhelmsen for assignment. []

40-MAN UPDATES: Friday was the deadline to protect qualified prospects from exposure to the Rule 5 draft. Players have to be added to the 40-man roster within either four years (if they were 19 or older at the time of their original signing) or five years (if 18 or younger) of their signing year in order to be shielded from selection. Perhaps the most prominent name added on Friday was former No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel, who’s currently with the Phillies.

You can check out a complete list of additions and corresponding roster moves here. [MLB Trade Rumors]

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

– – – – – – –

Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!