7:30pm: Two teams that are no longer in the mix for Encarnacion tell Yahoo’s Jeff Passan that they believe Cleveland is the team to beat (Twitter link). Rosenthal tweets that Cleveland’s offer is indeed for three years with an option.
7:10pm: The Indians and Athletics are the two teams in “strongest” pursuit of Encarnacion, tweets FOX’s Ken Rosenthal. Cleveland has offered a three-year deal that may include an option, while Oakland has offered two years and an option. Heyman writes that neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox have jumped back into the Encarnacion sweepstakes even as his asking price has seemingly come down.
6:49pm: Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland has not made a three-year offer to Encarnacion (Twitter link). The Athletics have discussed a two-year offer with Encarnacion’s camp, per Slusser, making a deal between the two sides seem unlikely (barring an increase from Oakland).
6:33pm: Encarnacion has “multiple strong three-year offers,” tweets Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. The Athletics and Indians are in the mix for Encarnacion, per Heyman, though he doesn’t specify that either club has made one of the offers he mentioned.
5:38pm: Edwin Encarnacion’s representatives are signaling to some execs around the league that they’re “getting closer to pinning down a deal,” according to ESPN’s Buster Olney (Twitter link). SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets that Encarnacion’s camp is hopeful of reaching an agreement before the weekend.
At last check, Encarnacion’s agent, Paul Kinzer, told Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair that he’d received three- and four-year offers from six clubs. Since that time, reports have suggested that the Blue Jays, Indians, Astros, Rangers and Athletics have all made offers, though Kinzer himself characterized the chances of returning to Toronto as somewhat slim. The Rockies are said to be “monitoring” Encarnacion’s market as well, though there haven’t been any reports of a firm offer being made on Colorado’s behalf.
Encarnacion’s market has been surprisingly slow this offseason, despite his status as one of the two top bats in free agency (along with Yoenis Cespedes). The soon-to-be 34-year-old is coming off an excellent 2016 season and a brilliant five-year platform with the Jays, but he’s also attached to a draft pick and comes with some defensive limitations. Those factors, plus uncertainty about the collective bargaining agreement in the month of November and Encarnacion’s age, have all likely played some factor in his lack of a market. The Blue Jays reportedly made him an offer of roughly $80MM over four years back in November, though MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm notes that said offer was taken off the table around the time the GM Meetings concluded on Nov. 10. (Toronto signed Kendrys Morales the next day.)
There’ve been some suggestions that Encarnacion could follow Cespedes’ path and sign a three-year deal with a lofty annual value and an opt-out clause after the first year of the deal. That type of arrangement could potentially make him more affordable to low-revenue teams (i.e. Cleveland), although the risk associated with that type of deal is also more significant for a low-payroll club like the Indians, as the only scenario in which Encarnacion would stick around would be if he suffered a massive injury or experienced a marked decline in 2017.