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Edwin Encarnacion’s Gone: The Parrot is Flying to Cleveland

MLB.com

The parrot is flying to Cleveland, of all places.

For weeks now, it’s seemed fairly evident that the Toronto Blue Jays wouldn’t re-sign Edwin Encarnacion. After jumping on Kendrys Morales just a few days into free agency, the Jays indicated their desire (or lack thereof) in retaining Encarnacion.

After eight seasons (yes, eight) in a Blue Jays uniform and five consecutive years as one of the most consistent power hitters in all of baseball, Edwin Encarnacion is making the journey across Lake Erie to Cleveland. Yes, that was a little unexpected.


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Outlets are reporting Edwin’s deal with the Indians is for three years and $60 million, with the potential for a fourth year and the contract to escalate to $80 million. It turns out Edwin Encarnacion may actually get that four-year/$80 million deal after all.

I feel like the initial reaction by a large subset of the Blue Jays fan base is one of anger; one of disdain towards the front office which could’ve signed Encarnacion for a similar amount as the Indians did.

I wrote about this yesterday and theorized that the Blue Jays may not have been all that interested in bringing back Encarnacion anyway.

[ Related: Encarnacion Wanted to Stay a Blue Jay, but the Blue Jays Had Other Plans ]

The rumoured four-year/$80 million deal was the Blue Jays’ way of looking pseudo serious about holding onto a franchise figurehead. The Jays knew Edwin was going to test the market no matter what, and they probably thought that deal was a bit of a lowball offer anyway.

No one could have anticipated how the market was going to play out this offseason. It really has been a series of weird occurrences for free agent sluggers like Edwin Encarnacion; from the draft pick compensation, to the CBA negotiations, to the luxury tax concerns … they were all contributing factors in driving down the market.

The fact that the Cleveland Indians and Edwin Encarnacion feels like a missed opportunity for the Blue Jays, because that’s a very reasonable amount for one of the elite sluggers of today. But the way Paul Kinzer played it – in addition to the aforementioned contributing factors – caused Edwin to sign for far less than anyone could have anticipated.

Some are pointing towards the Morales signing as a factor which prevented the Blue Jays from bringing back Encarnacion or somehow precluded the Jays from focusing their resources on Edwin. If the front office felt Encarnacion was integral to the success of the team, they would’ve found a way to make it work.

Given the choice, I’d always take Edwin Encarnacion over Kendrys Morales; but it’s hard to judge these moves before the 2017 season has transpired.


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Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins took a lot of criticism for letting David Price walk as a free agent and signing J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada instead, and that turned out pretty well for the Blue Jays.

A lot of people had reserved themselves to the possibility of Edwin Encarnacion signing elsewhere (myself included), with the caveat that the Blue Jays would spend the money earmarked for Edwin on someone like Dexter Fowler. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and the replacements thus far have been Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce.

Any time you subtract a hitter the calibre of Edwin Encarnacion, it’s going to create a huge crater lineup. But this is something the Blue Jays had prepared themselves for. Even when they floated that initial contract offer to Edwin, the Jays knew exactly what they were doing.

The difficult part in all of this? It’s hard to envision the Blue Jays being a competitive team without Edwin Encarnacion. After all, he was instrumental in the Blue Jays’ run of success the past two years.

But you know who else was integral towards making the Blue Jays a contending team again? Josh Donaldson. Aaron Sanchez. Marco Estrada. Roberto Osuna. Aaron Sanchez. Troy Tulowitzki. Devon Travis. They’re all still here.

Great teams find ways to replace (and in some cases, even surpass) the production from their outgoing players. This year, the Blue Jays managed to duplicate their success from 2015. But with so many pending free agents this offseason, it will be a much bigger challenge for the Blue Jays to remain competitive in 2017.


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But for now, staying competitive for the Blue Jays in 2017 will not include keeping Edwin Encarnacion.

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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2 Comments

  1. Andy

    December 22, 2016 - 11:28 pm

    Edwin never wanted to return. He could have signed in Spring. He could have taken a good offer in November. He didn’t, even though supply/demand clearly was not in his favour. Shapiro has work to do. Let’s see what he’s made of.

  2. GSS

    December 23, 2016 - 9:08 am

    Agree they didn’t want to keep EE, otherwise their strategy of fast playing a DH signing- when there were plenty of good options-while slow playing OF, catching and relief would be very very odd.

    I’m fine with the concept of spreading the dollars around and leveraging a few platoons- which also could make the bench stronger. But their challenge is a poor FA crop and limited assets to trade. (And why hoard draft picks if you’re going to trade minor leaguers.)

    There’s a tonne of pressure on the front office right now and time will tell if they played this right.

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