Earlier this month, the Blue Jays were connected to the likes of Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Justin Smoak and Edwin Encarnacion as they evaluated first base options. Less than two weeks later, both Tsutsugo and Smoak are off the board, but Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets that there’s mutual interest between Toronto and Encarnacion.
A match between the two sides would make for a nice reunion angle to sell to fans in what figures to be another transitional year in Toronto. The Jays have added some arms to the pitching staff in Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson and Shun Yamaguchi, but it’s tough to see them fully bouncing back from last year’s 67-win season — even with a full year of Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio in addition to the looming presence of additional prospects (namely, flamethrower Nate Pearson).
Pitching has been the primary focus for Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins, as he vowed at the onset of the offseason, but the Jays could certainly fit another first base/designated hitter option into the rotation. Rowdy Tellez, 25 in March, currently looks to be in line for regular at-bats on the 1B/DH carousel, but an Encarnacion reunion would surely deepen the lineup and bring a more formidable on-base presence to the fray than Tellez has offered in his young career (.299 OBP in 482 plate appearances).
Encarnacion hit .244/.344/.531 with 34 homers between the Mariners and Yankees last season — a strong output that’s more or less in the lines with what’s come to be expected of one of baseball’s most consistent sluggers. But despite his potent bat, it seems like he could struggle to find suitors willing to make offers commensurate with his production.
Let’s take a look at his potential market.
MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported last week that six clubs, including an NL team, have expressed interest in Encarnacion. Of course, “interest” is a rather subjective and nebulous term without further context, and it’s a bit hard to find that many teams with a path to a regular role for Encarnacion.
The White Sox met with his agents (per 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine) and could indeed be a sensible fit if they’re comfortable rotating Encarnacion and Jose Abreu at first base. The Blue Jays fit is reasonable, too. The Rangers make some sense as well, but signing Encarnacion basically commits to playing either him or Shin-Soo Choo in the field on a daily basis. It’s not a bad situation, however, particularly given the steady production offered by both.
The rest of the AL West features three teams with firmly set 1B/DH options (A’s, Astros, Angels) as well as another that traded Encarnacion away in 2019 and just signed its hopeful first baseman of the future to a long-term deal (Mariners, Evan White).
Over in the Central, it doesn’t seem likely that rebuilding clubs in Kansas City or Detroit will spend aggressively. The Twins have Nelson Cruz, who didn’t play an inning of defense in 2019, at DH. They’d need to commit to full-time first base reps for Encarnacion, which seems unlikely. The Indians, like the Mariners, have traded Encarnacion in the past calendar year. They also already have Carlos Santana and July acquisition Franmil Reyes in the mix.
In the AL East, the Yankees may prefer to keep their DH slot open to help rotate their corner outfielders, while Luke Voit and Mike Ford are options at first base. The Rays just signed Tsutsugo and have a crowded 1B/DH mix. We know the Orioles aren’t likely to spend on any notable free agent. The Red Sox have J.D. Martinez entrenched at DH and an opening at first base. But, as is the case in relation to the Twins or any NL club, it’s a bit tough to see Encarnacion as an everyday first baseman in his age-37 season. He’s never even played 700 innings at first base in a season.
The Blue Jays, White Sox and Rangers look like the best on-paper fits for Encarnacion, making the mutual interest between the slugger and Toronto all the more notable.
Walking the Parrot all the way back up north
No. Atkins can just stop now please. I know all armchair gms think they could do a better job but any joe blow would be better then how Atkins is doing. Probably will overpay for him too give 10 mil per for 3 years
Says armchair GM. Oh the Irony.
Didn’t he say when he was in Seattle that someone in Toronto was ripping him from there to other clubs? Seemed like there was bad blood.
he said there was a few people who were disrespecting him in Toronto while in NY too to Jack Curry, but as we all know money talks. im sure if they offer him the $$$$ hed go anywhere
Atkins: *doesn’t do enough to bring in big talent*
bigdaddyt: JUST STOP DOING THINGS, ATKINS
They need a cf, 3 starters and maybe a first basemen you could use for the next few years as 2/3rds of a bullpen. Jays don’t need a mid 30s DH occasional first. This is purely for PR
Protection in the middle of the order for Vlad would help, and EE could be that guy.
Yeah why go after a consistent 30/100 guy when you have such stellar DH options like Teoscar Hernandez and Brandon Drury?
Agreed. Edwin was a great and popular player when he was here the first time, but his time has come and gone. This would solely be an attempt to get a fan base, that’s increasingly pissed off at management’s repeated failure to accomplish anything, off their backs.
How has his time come and gone? Over 30 HRs and 100 RBIs and about a 900 SLG…vlad and gurriel could use a bat like that in the middle of the order! For 1-2 years he would provide a lot more then just the stats. Not to mention Tellez isnt a great hitter and teoscar hasn’t showed enough improvement in 2 yrs to just hand him the DH role…Edwin would fit perfectly in our order.
Has to be a 1 year deal. Max with a club option attached. Jays lose nothing by bringing back Edwin, they make that lineup much better though. That’s for sure. I’m all for it.
Solid move provided he has something left as he’s a professional. Should it be a down year, his presence off the field should still be valuable.
Good idea. EE is a class guy and will be a great mentor for the younger Jays – particularly Vlad.
Yeah I like the move but I am also a pessimist that doesn’t think Atkins can pull it off.
Of coarse there is mutual interest anytime a club wants to pay millions of $$$
The Blue Jays have a TV audience of 35 million to draw viewers from. The Blue Jays do draw more eyeballs than any other “local” broadcast in MLB by far. Their local market is almost what New York and Los Angeles together are.
Do you get a $1 every time you spout off this tripe?
Give it a rest.
Its not true.
Oh please no. The BlueJays have 3 first basemen/DH’s already In Tellez, Hernandez, and Guerrero Jr.
Adding another is plain stupid.
More pitching please,
Would love to see Edwin back in a Jays uniform. He could DH and play first against lefties, leaving some DH at bats open to give other guys a half day off…. Sad part Is that if he never left three years ago he’d already be the Blue Jays all time home run champ, and he’d most likely hold their record for most RBI’s by the end of this season…. What could have been.
Yes! Bring back Jose Bautista while you’re at it, both on 1 year deals to send them off into retirement
What’s Lloyd Moseby doing these days!??
The Adrian Beltre
This means nothing without JP Arencibia…
Still seems like a nice move. There’s a place for him in the 1B/DH picture, he’s still very productive at the plate, would help with revitalizing interest as a fan favourite, and would be a great mentor for the junior guys (especially given languages). Would love to see EE back for a year (or two at most) and possibly retire a Jay.
I like a one year deal for him at the right price. He can be flipped before the trading deadline if he exceeds expectations.
EE is better than Smoak. He should be offered a decent amount. An 8 or 9-mil plus an option is not out of the question.
On one hand, wish the Jays would keep the DH spot open to provide more at bats for the younger players. On the other hand, Encarnacion would be the perfect guy to mentor the younger players. He’s experienced ups and downs, struggles both defensively and offensively and was the most steady player during the winning years in the mid-2010s.
Exactly! I understand people want to keep the DH spot open for our “young” players like Teoscar Drury and Tellez but none have shown enough for them to just be given that spot. Edwin would provide much needed protection around Vlad and Gurriel…which could do them wonders!
Josh it’s interesting; a week ago I wouldn’t have been keen on EE. Not because I don’t want to see EE back in Toronto (I’d love it). It’s that I want to see who the haves and have nots truly are. However, I’ve changed my mind. Having Encarnacion back in a Jays uniform would be terrific. He’d be great with the other guys who need some guidance at the plate. Plus Eddie didn’t get the due respect he earned here. A nice 2020 Encarnacion appreciation season would be cool. Side note; how he wasn’t part of the all-decade discussion is a total crock.
There is no risk in a one year deal with the current payroll and maybe he continues being awesome. Definitely would be good for the fans. Definitely no to anything more than a 1 year guarantee at his age.
I didn’t see anything to suggest that another 20-25 games from Vlad Jr. is going to be anything all that special. I know he was just a rookie but with all that hype around him I expected much more than what he provided. Who really cares about the HR Derby? Not saying he won’t or can’t be great but to expect it could be a mistake. Now Bichette is a different story that kid is a superstar in the making.
We also have to see what kind of shape he will be in come February.
Everyone sees Soto and Acuna just mash at 19/20 and expect everyone else to do it! Vlad will be fine…he literally has been in the league 1 year and improved throughout. Agreed he needs to move over to first but to say he’s nothing special is a little premature.
Vlad Jr is a first baseman. Period. He makes a superstar play at 3rd then boots the next two. Every 4th game is a defensive turkey with Vlad Jr at 3rd. Time with show this to be true regardless of his conditioning.
Edwin is a bad signing for the Jays. Play Rowdy and Hernandez at first until someone wakes up and moves Vlad Jr there.
This is why the Jays need another year, Jimmer. Lots to figure out. Plus Vlad is owed 1 more shot at 3B providing he is in-shape. This 1 year also makes or breaks Bo playing SS (I think he’s better suited for 2B), Tellez, Jansen, Biggio.
If the Jays can get rid of at least 2 OFs of the 7, plus Drury, I’d want Edwin to come in and work with Grichuk (he’s not going anywhere), Teoscar and the young guys. He would be the best mentor available.
Vlad seemed to have a lot of trouble catching the ball. I’d rather see if he improves at 3rd. He is supposed to be training hard and he’s 20 give the kid a chance. Devers was a disaster at 3rd defensively at 3rd too his first year.
Mystery Team. Agree with you wholeheartedly. Vlad was all hype considering how he performed at the big league level. While Bo Bichette, truly does look like a superstar in the making. That kid is special… I believe he’ll be a better player than Vlad too, if not much better. Better hitter as well. Great bat speed, real nice power. Bo will be one of the best players in the league. Vlad has to get much better. Bo can’t do it alone, Vlad has to help him.
Vlad still was better than your average player at age 20.If he stops hitting the ball on the ground 99% of the time, he will be a superstar. If he doesnt, He will be fine but a disappointment.
A 21 year old once had a .953 OPS and 153 OPS+ playing only 43 games in his first season.
A 21 year old Bichette went .930 with 144 in 46 games.
That first player was Brett Lawrie.
Temper the excitement and give Vlad a break.
I’d rather they give the AB’s to younger players, or at least someone that will still be around in 2 years.
EE is going to be 37 in few weeks, and is going to run out of track at some point – likely this season.
Why doesn’t this post touch on which NL team might be interested?
I say Nats.
Possibly because he’s most suited to DH.
They need some arms in their bullpen! They have some strong young blood on the field but their bullpen is pretty spotty. Perhaps Ryu or Keuchel would be wise to pursue over EE
I agree, I think Ryu for the bullpen is a great idea. Give him 162 starts as a opener. He’s probably not able to land a starters role anyway. Ooof.
Great player but bad timing to plug an aging slugger into 1B/DH. Hopefully they just do one year if they do this.
With the passing of EE’s father, I expect we will not see any movement until the New Year. My condolences Edwin!