The Blue Jays made a four-year contract offer to Edwin Encarnacion that was worth “about” $80MM before agreeing to a three-year, $33MM deal with Kendrys Morales, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi first noted that the Jays’ offer to Encarnacion was “likely” in that vicinity. However, despite the addition of Morales, Toronto is still interested in re-signing Encarnacion and remains in the mix for his services, according to Heyman. The Jays feel that Encarnacion can play first base competently enough to coexist on the roster with Morales.
The $80MM offer to Encarnacion is a sizable step up from the team’s reported two-year offer back in Spring Training, though Encarnacion’s robust market seems likely to lead to greater offers. Heyman lists the Astros, Yankees, Rangers and Red Sox as other teams that have at least reached out to Encarnacion, and agent Paul Kinzer tells him that a couple of National League clubs have reached out as well. Certainly, there will be some who are scared off by the notion of playing Encarnacion at first base on an everyday basis, especially as he advances into his late 30s over the life of a four- or five-year deal, but it’s worth noting that Encarnacion has at least graded out as a roughly average defender at first in fairly limited action with the Jays over the past two seasons (0 DRS, +3.3 UZR in 1117 innings).
Toronto general manager Ross Atkins said this weekend that the door is still open for a new deal with Encarnacion, stating that the signing of Morales only “slightly” lessens the chances of a big splash for Encarnacion. However, Atkins also said the team would be aggressive in pursuing one, if not two outfield pieces to add to the mix, and the Jays are also known to be interested in adding left-handed relief help (especially now that Brett Cecil has signed in St. Louis). With so many needs across the board and a number of other clubs interested in Encarnacion’s bat, it’s not clear that the Jays will feel comfortable beating the market in order to retain their star slugger, especially considering the fact that the Morales deal brings another potential 30-homer bat to the table at a considerably more affordable rate.