After the Blue Jays signed Kendrys Morales to a three-year/$33 million contract, that may have indicated to some that the Blue Jays are suddenly out of the running to re-sign their biggest free agent: Edwin Encarnacion.
Not so fast … don’t count the Blue Jays out of the Encarnacion sweepstakes just yet, folks.
TSN’s Rick Westhead reported the Blue Jays and Edwin Encarnacion’s camp are still talking, despite the signing of Kendrys Morales.
A day after the Blue Jays signed DH Kendrys Morales, Edwin Encarnacion’s agent confirms he’s still talking to Toronto about Edwin. pic.twitter.com/rcdYNNtRo9
— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) November 12, 2016
To me, the only reason why the Kendrys Morales signing might interfere with Edwin Encarnacion’s future with the Blue Jays? If Edwin had a strong desire to transition over to designated hitter full-time. Otherwise, I’d say Encarnacion is still in play for the Blue Jays.
Edwin Encarnacion’s agent Paul Kinzer mentioned this also: “We feel like Edwin’s a first baseman now.” So in no way is Kendrys Morales going to block Edwin Encarnacion position-wise at first base.
There’s a school of thought out there that the money doled out to Morales may have been earmarked for Encarnacion, but I don’t think that’s the case at all.
Just because the Blue Jays have $11 million per year for the next three seasons tied up in Kendry Morales doesn’t preclude the club from spending a little more to get Edwin Encarnacion to play first base.
$11 million annually for Morales won’t prevent the Jays from going $25 million for Encarnacion.
I’ll admit that the timing of the Kendrys Morales signing is a bit curious, though. It comes mere days after the Blue Jays and Edwin Encarnacion’s agent were rumoured to be in contact discussions. This was also during the Blue Jays’ exclusive negotiating window with Encarnacion.
However, the Blue Jays may have simply just wanted to move fast on signing Kendrys Morales. After all, they were aggressive early on in free agency last year, signing both J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada early in November.
Shi Davidi alluded to something Ross Atkins said earlier in the week, in that “offers can come on and off the table”, meaning the Blue Jays may have presented a “take it or leave it” offer to Edwin, and both parties may have just walked away.
But if the latest reports are correct, Ross Atkins is still in contact with Edwin Encarnacion. Until he signs elsewhere or we reach that pseudo deadline of the Winter Meetings, there’s still a possibility Edwin returns to the Blue Jays.
The Kendrys Morales contract sort of complicates things a little further, but his addition doesn’t make it impossible for the Blue Jays to retain Edwin Encarnacion.
A Morales/Encarnacion duo at first base/designated hitter could mean the Blue Jays would have to get creative to address the other needs on the diamond; namely left and right field.
But a shrewd free agent signing or finding a platoon partner for Melvin Upton Jr. combined with a trade for another corner outfield spot would remedy the solution; all without going too crazy in terms of payroll.
It bears repeating, but the driving force in all of this seems to be Edwin Encarnacion’s (reportedly) strong desire to remain with the Blue Jays. If that’s true, Edwin might need the Blue Jays more than the Blue Jays need him.
Ultimately, Encarnacion’s side may need less convincing to stay in Toronto, whereas the Blue Jays would have to justify the cost to bring him back. My guess is that’s exactly what the front office is doing right now.