In the span of six hours, the Toronto Blue Jays rumour mill went from zero to 100. At the beginning of the day yesterday, things were all but quiet. Come late afternoon/early evening, there were a trio of reports which threw the hot stove into overdrive.
The first one being the story from TSN in which Rick Westhead spoke to Edwin Encarnacion’s agent Paul Kinzer and revealed the Blue Jays have given Edwin “the most love” (which may just be code for “an offer”.)
The Ongoing Encarnacion Dance
This is one I’ve gone back and forth on so many times that I’ve lost count. Just when I’ve talked myself out of bringing back Edwin Encarnacion, I convince myself they should bring him back. So one can only imagine the dilemma the Blue Jays’ front office has.
After Yoenis Cespedes landed a four-year deal with the Mets, Edwin Encarnacion is arguably the most coveted bat on the free agent market. It basically signals the end of any potential for a five-year deal for Edwin, and he’ll likely have to settle for somewhere in that supposed four-year/$80-$90 million range.
At this point in the offseason, I feel like the Blue Jays only have one really big signing left this winter, and it’s either going to be Edwin Encarnacion or someone like Dexter Fowler. If that player were to be Edwin Encarnacion, I’d be pretty content with it.
The man has been nothing but consistent over the past five years, and while Encarnacion is arguably a diminishing asset, I’d be willing to overpay if that meant the Blue Jays’ window of contention might stay open for a few years.
Conversely, if the Blue Jays opted to step away from Encarnacion or pull back their offer entirely, I’d be completely cool with that as well … under the pretense that the money would go to inking another free agent.
Fowler Would Be Fun (at the right price)
Is there a free agent (or even a tradeable asset) out there who would fit more perfectly for the Blue Jays than Dexter Fowler? He checks all the boxes the Blue Jays need right now; he’s a switch-hitter, he’s an outfielder, he gets on base, and he puts the ball in play.
The Blue Jays fan base would be ecstatic to see Toronto land Dexter Fowler. He’s one of the marquee names on the market, but convincing him to come to the Blue Jays without overpaying in term or dollars will be challenging.
Fowler was a Top 10 outfielder in MLB last year and moving to a hitter-friendly park like the Rogers Centre could do wonders for his numbers.
But just for fun, let’s play devil’s advocate on why the Blue Jays shouldn’t go after Dexter Fowler. This was the same guy who only secured a one-year deal last offseason and waited until the first day of Cubs training camp to sign.
Dexter Fowler is a great player, but are people infatuated with Fowler because he’s truly one of the best players in baseball? Or is it because he’s one of the best free agent options available? There’s a big difference.
And does Dexter Fowler look much better by comparison simply because the Blue Jays current outfield options consist of Kevin Pillar, Melvin Upton, Ezequiel Carrera and Kendrys Morales if he loses a bet?
Something else that’s fun to think about; if the Blue Jays were to sign Fowler to a four-year deal, they’d come out of that contract with Fowler being 34 years old at the back end of that deal … two years younger than Jose Bautista right now.
Just Say No to Jay Bruce
This is the Jason Voorhees of Blue Jays trade rumours; the one that simply will not go away, as the Blue Jays are forever destined to be linked to Jay Bruce (for whatever bizarre reason).
In of itself, the Blue Jays should not be interested in Jay Bruce. Yes, he’s a left-handed outfielder, but as a high-strikeout/low OBP kind of hitter, Bruce fits the exact prototype of the kind of hitter the Jays are trying to get away from.
Not only would the Blue Jays have to pay Bruce’s salary, but they would need to hand over something to the Mets in return.
If the end game was to acquire a player similar to that of Michael Saunders, wouldn’t the Blue Jays just sign Michael Saunders?
Now, if the Blue Jays were to couple a Jay Bruce trade to go along with a Dexter Fowler signing, then I’d buy into that; but just going for Jay Bruce in the outfield – a player with only one year of team control left – doesn’t make much sense for the Blue Jays.