With Edwin Encarnacion’s imposed extension deadline of Opening Day now in the rear-view mirror, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi writes that the slugger’s “sole focus” is on the season at hand, and further talks aren’t expected. As Davidi writes, there were no talks over the final couple weeks of Spring Training, and the team didn’t make a late push to get a deal done.
“If they were going to do something, I was ready,” the first baseman/designated hitter said. “I know I want to stay here, I’d love to stay here, but it’s not my decision, it’s not something I can control. I’m going to focus on my season and see what’s coming.” Encarnacion also added: “…after today I don’t want to talk anymore or anything like that.”
Notably, Davidi reports that the Blue Jays’ most recent suggestion was a two-year extension, which was a “total non-starter.” A two-year deal for Encarnacion strikes me as a wholly unrealistic expectation, considering the fact that since 2012, the 33-year-old has batted .274/.371/.549 with 151 home runs (second in the Majors in that time, as Davidi points out). A typical season for Encarnacion should easily net him a four-year contract on next year’s depleted free agent market, and a five-year pact shouldn’t be considered out of the question at this admittedly early stage. Tim Dierkes recently ranked Encarnacion fifth in the first installment of MLBTR’s 2016-17 free agent power rankings, noting that a four-year deal worth as much as $100MM seems reasonable if Encarnacion maintains his production in 2016, and he too voiced a belief that five years could end up on the table.
The failure to lock up either Encarnacion or fellow right-handed slugger Jose Bautista means that both players will likely hit the open market next winter and could very well be entering their last season as members of the Blue Jays. While Toronto is, of course, widely expected to contend for a postseason spot on the heels of their ALCS run last year, it’ll be interesting to see what transpires this summer should the season not go according to plan. Both Encarnacion and Bautista are locks to receive and reject a qualifying offer next winter (assuming healthy, productive seasons), but they’re also the types of potential trade pieces whose returns would outweigh the value of a compensatory draft pick. (Bautista and Encarnacion, of course, would have to approve any deal in that highly theoretical scenario, as each has 10-and-5 rights.) Should the season go according to plan in Toronto, though, that’ll be a moot point, and the Jays will stand to recoup a pair of draft picks in 2017 as their prized sluggers test the waters of free agency.