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Toronto

Blue Jays sign free agent Kendrys Morales

MLB.com
12 Nov 2016, 08:07 GMT+10

Statcast measures the exit velocity, launch angle and projected distance of Kendrys Morales' 30th home run of the season

- Hot Stove Tracker

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 hitter-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.

Statcast: Morales' 433-ft. homer KC@DET: Morales launches his 30th home run 433 feetStatcast measures the exit velocity, launch angle and projected distance of Kendrys Morales' 30th home run of the season

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 Toronto general manager Ross Atkins. According to industry sources, the Blue Jays also signed Cuban prospect Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to a seven-year deal worth $22 million, and he's expected to begin the season in the Minor Leagues.

- Sources: Cuba's Gurriel Jr. agrees to sign with Blue Jays

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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