The Blue Jays are making a push to re-sign slugger Edwin Encarnacion, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. According to Davidi, the two sides have already had some “fruitful” contract discussions that have “given [Encarnacion] something to think about.” Davidi notes, too, that Encarnacion’s preference is to remain in Toronto, which obviously works in the Blue Jays’ favor. He does caution, however, that an agreement between the two sides is no sure thing, even though there’s apparently been some progress in negotiations.
The Jays extended a one-year qualifying offer to Encarnacion and teammate Jose Bautista earlier today, though there’s never a great chance that either — especially Encarnacion — would accept the $17.2MM pact for the 2017 season. While the QO can have an adverse effect on the market for some free agents, Encarnacion’s status as arguably the top available bat of the offseason makes it unlikely that he’d run into much difficulty even with the burden of draft pick compensation hanging over him.
The 33-year-old Encarnacion (34 in January) is coming off yet another excellent season at the plate, having slashed .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs in 702 plate appearances. Since breaking out with the Blue Jays a half-decade ago, Encarnacion sports a robust .272/.367/.544 line with 193 home runs in 727 games — an average of 44 homers per 162 games played. It’s not clear whether Encarnacion’s camp would forgo a lengthier trip through free agency in order to quickly re-up with the Jays, but it’s worth noting, of course, that Encarnacion has yet to even be granted the right to negotiate with other clubs. The exclusive window for clubs to negotiate with their own free agents ends tonight at midnight, though, so Encarnacion could quickly get a sense of how Toronto’s current level of aggression stacks up with the rest of the market.