Encarnacion cashes in

Blue Jays batter Edwin Encarnacion celebrates his walk-off home run against the Angels during at...

Blue Jays batter Edwin Encarnacion celebrates his walk-off home run against the Angels during at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., Sep. 22, 2011. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:35 PM ET

TORONTO - Opposing scouts encountered during post-season play were raving about how well Edwin Encarnacion was running the bases the second half of the season and how he looked as if he was in better shape.

The Blue Jays must have seen the same things as they picked up Encarnacion’s $3.5 million US option for 2012 Monday afternoon.

The Jays declined the $3.75 million option on reliever Jon Rauch, who saw his season cut short due to a knee operation.

Encarnacion started the season at third base, where he hit .213 with three homers and eight RBIs, playing so poorly that Jose Bautista had to be moved from right field to third, until Brett Lawrie arrived.

Yet, when Encarnacion was the DH or playing at first base and wasn’t worrying about fielding, he hit .298 with 14 homers and 48 RBIs.

In all Encarnacion, 28, appeared in 134 games, hitting .272 with an impressive team-high 36 doubles, 17 homers and 55 RBIs. His 36 doubles were the most by any American Leaguer with less than 500 at-bats.

Encarnacion earned $2 million this season. Acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in 2009, Encarnacion had a .382 on base percentage after the all-star break.

Rauch, 33, served as the Jays’ closer for a time, taking over for Frank Francisco and saving 11 of 16 chances. He was 5-4 with a 4.85 ERA while earning $3.5 million this season.


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