Free agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion will hit the market in search of as many as five guaranteed years at as much as $25MM annually, his agent Paul Kinzer tells TSN. Clubs have already been in touch about the first baseman and DH, who ranks second on MLBTR’s list of the top fifty free agents.
As Kinzer notes, the market will dictate Encarnacion’s ultimate price. One major factor could be whether National League teams will join their American League competitors in pursuing him. “He proved this year that he is a solid first baseman and I think that will make him attractive to National League teams as well,” said Kinzer. Of course, it’s fair to wonder whether those organizations will believe he can man the position over the life of such a lengthy contract.
The agent opined that there could be 11 teams in pursuit of Encarnacion. We’ve already heard that the Blue Jays are making a play to retain him, and Kinzer tells WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford that he also sees the division-rival Red Sox as a great fit. Encarnacion loves hitting in Boston, says Kinzer, and also likes the idea of stepping into the sizable shoes of fellow Dominican David Ortiz. The Astros and Rangers are at least two other hypothetical landing spots, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes on Twitter.
It’s possible that things could move quickly, Kinzer also tells Bradford, with some teams having already shown a willingness to make an early splash. “Last year moved pretty quick on a lot of higher guys, so we’ll see,” he said. “The only thing this time is the collective bargaining agreement [defining the luxury tax threshold], how that works out.” Encarnacion, too, is ready to make a decision if the terms are to his liking. “If he feels comfortable and he feels like he’s treated fairly, he can pull the trigger fairly rapidly,” said Kinzer.
Since he’s obviously set to reject the Jays’ qualifying offer, any team signing Encarnacion will need to sacrifice a draft pick to add him — even Toronto, which would otherwise add a selection — but it’s certainly arguable that he’s a big enough piece that it won’t impact his earning power too significantly. Kinzer trumpets Encarnacion’s quiet but positive clubhouse presence, hard-working approach, conditioning and health. Teams will weigh all of these factors, along with his outstanding track record at the plate (.272/.367/.544 over his last five seasons), against his age and defensive limitations in deciding just how hard to push.