Blue Jays looking for a new third baseman

The Blue Jays, still on the fringes of playoff contention, have sent Edwin Encarnacion, their No. 1 third baseman, to their No. 1 farm team. The gory details:

    After going 0-for-4 against San Francisco, Encarnacion saw his season average drop to .200 to go along with nine home runs and 22 RBIs in 37 games for Toronto. Over his past 22 games, Encarnacion had hit at a .145 clip. In the field, the third baseman had seven errors, including one in Sunday's loss.The Blue Jays acquired Encarnacion, who is under contract for $4.75 million this year, as part of the four-player trade that sent third baseman Scott Rolen to the Reds on July 31 last season. Encarnacion struggled with left wrist and right shoulder issues this season, but [Blue Jays general manager Alex] Anthopoulos noted that the third baseman is healthy now.

    "It's just a move we felt we needed to make to improve the club," Anthopoulos said. "We still believe in Edwin as a player, but it's something we've been talking about the last little while just to get him going. Certainly he was disappointed in the decision that we made, but we told him this wasn't permanent.

Maybe it's the American League, or maybe it's playing for the Blue Jays and embracing their swing-first, answer-questions-later approach to hitting. But Encarnacion, who turned 27 last winter, posted a .345 on-base percentage while playing for Cincinnati but just .303 with the Blue Jays.

At .345, Encarnacion can really help you. But at .303, you start noticing that he's a pretty lousy defensive third baseman; particularly when it's his second straight poor season. To this point anyway, Encarnacion seems to have peaked in his early 20s, which does happen sometimes.

Meanwhile, as Rolen plays brilliantly for the Reds, the Blue Jays are reduced to hoping that reliever Josh Roenicke solves his control issues at some point soon, or else this trade may soon look like a complete bust.

Also, the Blue Jays need a third baseman. There's talk about Jose Bautista (who's been playing right field) and Jarrett Hoffpauir, who's taken Encarnacion's roster spot after doing reasonably well in Triple-A. The problem is that neither of those guys can really hit, and the Jays are still left without a long-term solution at the position.

Update: Encarnacion has now been designated for assignment and his tenure with the Blue Jays is apparently over.