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