An early push by the Blue Jays to re-sign veteran slugger Edwin Encarnacion does not appear likely to come to fruition, according to reports from Jon Heyman of Fan Rag and Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. With Encarnacion drawing strong interest elsewhere, it appears he’ll allow his market to develop before reaching a decision.
That’s not a terribly surprising outcome, all things considered. Toronto never has seemed quite willing to commit to a price tag that would prevent the soon-to-be 34-year-old first baseman and designated hitter from gauging interest from other organizations. That seemed to be the case last spring, Heyman notes, and may still hold true now. While Toronto is amenable to a three-year guarantee or “perhaps even the right four-year deal,” he says, it appears as if one or more alternative organizations may be willing to do more.
It’s too soon to rule out a return to the Jays,, as general manager Ross Atkins spoke glowingly of Encarnacion and made clear the team still hopes to retain him. But as Davidi writes, the GM also hinted that the organization may have little choice but to look elsewhere. When asked about the possibility of an early determination with regard to Encarnacion, he responded:
“Any team would prefer that. In any negotiation, in any deal, the quicker you have clarity, the sooner you consider your alternatives one way or the other. … [T]he challenge becomes knowing whether those pieces are going to be here or not. Offers often times come on and off tables.”
Though Atkins declined to address Encarnacion’s situation directly, his comments certainly suggest that the sides are set to explore alternatives. That is the case for Encarnacion and his reps, per Davidi, who says they “began to engage with other clubs” today. For the team, Atkins noted that there are “a lot of potential alternatives” under discussion at the moment, and certainly there are a wide variety of possibilities on a market that’s full of lumbering sluggers. We heard earlier today that the Jays were one of several teams to put out feelers to Kendrys Morales, and other options could also be explored.