Offseason

Encarnacion Wanted to Stay a Blue Jay, but the Blue Jays Had Other Plans

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I kind of feel bad for Edwin Encarnacion.

After five consecutive seasons as one of the most prolific sluggers in all of baseball, Encarnacion would finally get his big payday. Deep down, it sounds like Edwin envisioned that contract would come from the Toronto Blue Jays and he was going to stay with the organization where he blossomed into a star.

Evidently, the Blue Jays had other plans.


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Here we are approaching the midpoint of the MLB offseason and Edwin Encarnacion remains a free agent. Despite reports of offers from multiple teams, Edwin is still a free agent.

Many believed that Toronto was Edwin Encarnacion’s preferred destination all along, and Encarnacion’s agent Paul Kinzer has echoed this all winter. Kinzer’s latest appearance on the Jeff Blair Show underscored Encarnacion’s desire to come back as a Blue Jay.

Unfortunately, Paul Kinzer reads like an open book. And while I appreciate his honesty and openness with the media (which makes for great radio and plenty to write about), I think Kinzer’s openness has been a detriment to Edwin Encarnacion finding a landing spot this offseason.

Kinzer shared that Encarnacion had offers from six different teams, mostly in the three-to-four year range. We can all speculate about which teams tabled a contract to Edwin Encarnacion, but his camp hasn’t jumped on any of them. One of the reasons why? I think Kinzer and Encarnacion were holding out for the Blue Jays.

Only now do they realize that it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that the Blue Jays will extend another offer. In retrospect, the reported four-year/$80 million deal from the Blue Jays looks pretty good right about now.

Although the Jays reportedly tabled an offer to Edwin Encarnacion, I wonder whether they were really serious about bringing him back. If the Jays gave Kinzer and Encarnacion the caveat that they needed to make up their mind within 48-72 hours of receiving that offer, how could they not expect Edwin to at least test the market?

Bob Elliott recently told Toronto Mike on the Toronto Mike’d Podcast that the Blue Jays gave Edwin Encarnacion and Paul Kinzer a 72 hour window to make up their minds after that initial offer. A few weeks ago, Ross Atkins remarked the Blue Jays gave Edwin plenty of time.

Regardless of whether the window was 48 hours, 72 hours or a full week, the Blue Jays knew that Edwin Encarnacion was going to test the market. After all, Encarnacion waited his entire career to get to this moment.

To suddenly jump at the first offer from the Blue Jays would be ludicrous, even if Toronto was Edwin Encarnacion’s preferred destination all along. My guess is the Blue Jays were pseudo serious about retaining Edwin Encarnacion.


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Then the Blue Jays signed Kendrys Morales – then they signed Steve Pearce. The fact that they moved so quickly to sign Kendrys Morales makes me question whether the Blue Jays “Plan B” was actually their “Plan A” all along.

This whole situation is a little unfortunate. It sounds like Edwin Encarnacion genuinely wanted to re-sign with the Blue Jays. But after his agent tipped their hand and expressed Edwin’s clear desire to play in Toronto, it’s worked against them.

That’s probably why you’ve seen teams like the lowly Oakland A’s trying to make a bid for Edwin Encarnacion. Because everybody fully knows the offer which Edwin walked away from (four years/$80 million), all the other teams precisely know the market for Encarnacion right now.

Plus, how often do you see a marquee player that wants to stay with the Blue Jays? For years, the organization had to pull teeth to convince players to come to Toronto. Now that they’re finally a competitive team, the tide is beginning to turn. And a guy like Edwin Encarnacion who wants to stay can’t stay.

I don’t blame Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins for going the route they did with Edwin Encarnacion. If Encarnacion accepted the offer that was out there, I think both sides would’ve been happy with the resolution. Akin to how the Dodgers and Kenley Jansen/Justin Turner worked things out, the Blue Jays and Edwin Encarnacion could’ve come to a similar agreement without any tenuous negotiations.

If there was a clear desire from both the Blue Jays and Edwin Encarnacion to get something done, something would’ve gotten done. But judging by the moves the Blue Jays’ front office has made this offseason, clearly they wanted to go in a different direction.


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And now Edwin Encarnacion must come to grips with playing somewhere other than Toronto in 2017 and beyond.

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.


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6 Comments

  1. dan english

    December 21, 2016 - 7:12 pm

    Edwin and his agent made a mistake…They turned down 4 yrs and 80 million from the team he wants to play for…

  2. Alan V

    December 21, 2016 - 7:39 pm

    Besides my lettered EE jersey now just a relic of the past, I’m so angry how EE has been handled. I too think EE has never been, is not in Shapiro’s plans (he is the GM here). It’s a PR game, right up to today’s “leak” of the supposed hard payroll cap this year – nice way to force free agents into their limits; or to prove they “can’t” be signed. Hoey! No room, on a roster whose starting OF currently sits as Carrera, Upton, Pillar; lost 82 HRs, 200 and how many RBIs; still built as a contender, can’t afford an elite, fan favorite, who hit 42 HRs, and 127RBs…really? ???

  3. Alan V

    December 21, 2016 - 7:46 pm

    I read a good article the other day outlining the impending costs coming for guys signed. I get it: new contracts need to fit where the team is going, not just today. True. But there has to be a gate cost to not signing Edwin, and/or JB. Get creative then, find a way to shed some salary. Maybe you deal a contract, to get younger, while adding offense.
    And one other thing: a real problem with this roster, as constructed, comes right down to 3 players – Pillar, 1B combo as is, and LF combo – they offer so little assured offense, you are having to plug someone in to offset that weak production. Only way to do that with certainty? A guy who can hit 40 HR and drive in 120….or, shake this up and add more production on those spots; then we can swallow say Carter, or Granderson, instead.

    1. Ian Hunter

      December 21, 2016 - 10:17 pm

      The Jays still have some work to do, no doubt. Pearce and Morales aren’t going to make up for the guys that left this offseason. The oufield and 1B will get figured out, but at this point, it’s probably going to have to be via under-the-radar trades or value deals (Napoli, Revere, Saunders?).

      The Jays wanted to get younger, faster, more versatile – that’s hard to do with $20 million a year locked up for Edwin.

  4. dolsh

    December 21, 2016 - 8:48 pm

    Why feel bad for EE? Frankly, he got greedy. The ONLY reason you “test the waters” when you have 4/80 sitting on the table – from the team you say you want to play for – is because you want more. Toronto gave him a GREAT offer. HE choose to leave. And now karma’s going to be a b*tch and he’s going to lose *millions*.

    I have zero sympathy. AND we’re going to be just fine without him.

  5. GSS

    December 22, 2016 - 5:34 pm

    How about trading Liriano for a corner outfielder with similar salary and term and signing EE, getting a few pennies on the dollar for Smoak and then flipping Telez- who would be logjammed- for relief help. Not sure there’s a fit, but it’s Xmas. Gotta wish big.

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