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OXON HILLS, Md. — The Red Sox have told Jose Bautista’s representatives that they are out on signing him.

Bautista, who is seeking a two-year deal, had seen Boston as his No. 1 preference.

The Red Sox ruled out Edwin Encarnacion earlier in the week because the former Toronto slugger wanted at least four years.

The Red Sox are trying to stay under the luxury-tax threshold of $195 million.

Bautista would have been the feared middle-of-the-order hitter to replace David Ortiz.

Agent Jay Alou said Bautista was close to signing elsewhere, as early as this afternoon, but still held out hope that the Red Sox would change their minds.

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Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has said he doesn’t want to tie up the DH spot with a long-term commitment with Sam Travis about a year away from the majors.


Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.