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Slugging star Encarnacion likely to become available if depleted Jays become sellers

Encarnacion could emerge as the top slugger on the trade market. (US Presswire)

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 has emerged as a star this year, with 22 home runs, 54 RBI, a .285 batting average and .934 OPS, and if the Jays fall out of the race and believe they can't re-sign him, severeal teams would line up to target him in trade. Encarnacion can play third base and first base but has been used a fair amount as a DH, as well.

Encarnacion's value as a trade candidate would be high in a market expected to feature few big hitters. He is having a breakout year. The Padres' Carlos Quentin looks like the best hitter who'll likely be available so far. Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano is another big bat who's available but teams see him as more of a DH.

The Blue Jays looked like a contender, but have lost starting pitchers Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison for the year and also seen star starter Brandon Morrow also go to the disabled list. Morrow is expected back within a couple weeks, but at this point it could be too late. The Blue Jays are trying to patch their rotation, and could call up 49-year-old Jamie Moyer soon. Journeyman Aaron Laffey is already in the revamped rotation.

The Blue Jays, who seem involved in nearly everything, also could think about using Encarnacion as a trade piece for rotation help.

While Toronto's main priority right now is cobbling together a workable rotation, eventually they could become a seller. If they do, second baseman Kelly Johnson (9, 33, .242) and veteran lefthanded reliver Darren Oliver could also become available. Oliver is having another excellent year, with a career best 1.65 ERA. Outfielder Rajai Davis is another Jays veteran who could be a trade target if they fall out of the race.

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