TORONTO -- The Blue Jays reportedly have made their first big splash of the offseason by signing free-agent designated hitter Kendrys Morales to a three-year contract, but what that means for the future of Edwin Encarnacion is still unknown.Toronto reached a multiyear deal worth $33 million with Morales, according to multiple reports. The move was first reported by MLB Network's Jon Heyman, but the club has yet to publicly comment on the rumored signing.
Morales is coming off a season in which he hit .263 with 30 home runs, 93 RBIs and a .795 OPS over 154 games. He did that while playing his home games at Kansas City's pitcher-friendly Kauffman Stadium, and the hope is that a switch to Rogers Centre will help him maintain, or possibly even increase, that production.The 10-year veteran started 138 of his games at DH last season. That's where Encarnacion primarily has spent most of his time with the Blue Jays, but Morales' signing does not necessarily rule out Encarnacion from returning. It's still possible, but it's less likely now.Encarnacion started 59 games at first base in 2016 and some National League teams have inquired about using him there on a full-time basis. Toronto could consider something similar but it is a little harder to imagine Encarnacion returning following Morales' multiyear deal. The same could potentially be said for outfielder Jose Bautista, who is willing to move positions, but could ultimately become a DH over the course of a multiyear deal.The exact breakdown of Morales' contract remains unknown, but if he makes $11 million during each of the three years, that would leave the Blue Jays with approximately $120 million in guaranteed salary to 10 players next season. Toronto also has a pair of $17.2 million qualifying offers out to Encarnacion and Bautista, with their decision due Monday. The Blue Jays have yet to publicly comment on what their payroll limit will be, but the number is expected to increase. Toronto spent approximately $140 million on payroll this year, and while the number will go up, it's still not immediately clear by exactly how much.Morales' reported signing was the second major move of the day by Toronto general manager Ross Atkins. According to industry sources, the Blue Jays also signed Cuban prospect Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to a seven-year, $22 million deal, and he's expected to begin the season in the Minor Leagues.Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com