The Toronto Blue Jays will begin negotiating a potential extension for both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion during spring training, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.
Bautista and Encarnacion are two of the Blue Jays' best players and make up the heart of their order.
The 35-year-old Bautista has completely reinvented his career with Toronto, having been traded from the Pirates to the Blue Jays during the season in 2008.
He broke out in 2010, hitting 54 home runs and posting a .995 OPS in 683 plate appearances. From that point on, Bautista has been a perennial American League All-Star and has been the heart and soul of the Blue Jays, manning right field for them.
After his monster 2010 season, Bautista signed a six-year, $78 million extension with the Blue Jays that is set to expire at the end of the 2016 with a $14 million salary.
Encarnacion has followed a similar path to Toronto.
The 33-year-old was a slightly above-average bat for the Cincinnati Reds in 2009 when the Blue Jays acquired him, along with two others, for Scott Rolen. Since, he has posted a .876 OPS (137 OPS+) and slugged 197 home runs in seven years with the club.
Encarnacion was locked up to a comparable six-year, $43 million deal that ran from 2011 through the end of 2016. After making $10 million this season, Encarnacion will be a free agent again.
The Blue Jays greatly benefitted from both Bautista's and Encarnacion's breakouts with the club. Last season, the team went to the postseason for the first time since 1993, going 93-69 and winning the American League East.
Even as they age, the team probably wants to lock up Bautista and Encarnacion not only for performance, but for fan appeal as well. It would be hard for fans, especially those who are just becoming attached to the team after their recent success, to see both of their top players leave via free agency.
Bautista told The Canadian Press that it would be "an honor" to remain with the Blue Jays for the rest of his career.