So, Edwin Encarnacion is on fire right now. His current hitting streak has been impressive. With another home run today, he’s having a great impact on the Blue Jays’ fortunes of late. It is a lot of fun to watch. And, before I get into this post, I want to state that I love EE. I’d like him to remain a Blue Jay for a few more years. But, there may actually be a case to make for the club to buy him out. They might be able to use that money elsewhere.
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It might seem like we’re picking on Encarnacion a bit here at Jays Journal. The timing might be bad, too, considering his current streak. But, when the idea strikes, you gotta roll with it. Earlier, Ryan Mueller wrote that perhaps the club could look to deal Edwin in the offseason. Trading EE very well could bring in some valuable pieces. It’s a good idea to consider; there is a lot of merit to it. But, it also is assuming that Edwin will be brought back at all; that the Blue Jays will pick up his $10M option. Now, $10M is a very reasonable price for a hitter of EE’s caliber. It’s a great deal. But, there may be a strictly better business move to be made here.
For $2M, the Blue Jays can buyout Edwin’s contract. Why would they do that? Don’t they need him? Encarnacion is a DH first and a first baseman second. He plays well enough that he can see a lot of playing time at first. I’ll give you that. But, that kind of positioning can be found elsewhere for much cheaper. Firstly, Justin Smoak is arbitration eligible for 2016. He’s not likely to see a huge raise form his $1M salary. Chris Colabello isn’t even eligible for arbitration until 2017. Could this combination reproduce Edwin’s numbers for a fraction of the cost?
Toronto Blue Jays
You might lose some. Smoak has the power potential. And, what you lose, you make up some of it in run prevention with his glove. He’s a switch hitter. And, if you’re really worried about his .206 average against righties, Colabello is hitting .333 against right handed pitching. I know, I know. Colabello can’t possibly repeat his 2015 success. A combination of these two could provide you with enough out of the 1B/DH spot to make the decision to buyout Edwin easier. They won’t produce as much, I grant you. But, do you need them to?
This lineup is out of this world. Literally. It must be from another planet because it is putting up other worldly numbers. They’re scoring runs at a feverish pace. So, think about this: Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Bautista (assuming the club picks up his option) and Josh Donaldson will all be back next season. Russell Martin is back. Heck, even Ben Revere looks to be back. This lineup is going to be good next season too. Will they really miss that much with Edwin gone and the above duo being relied on more?
What might help ease this pain is the real (and ONLY) reason I’d consider buying out Encarnacion’s contract. By spending the Smoak/Colabello money, that frees up more money for signing a certain starting pitcher. David Price is going to be a free agent and will command quite the pay day. Even if he says that winning in Toronto gives them an edge at re-signing him, the club will still need to pay up. And, as I outlined yesterday, extra money will be needed. With arbitration and the possibility of bringing back R.A. Dickey and/or Mark Buehrle, the money that appears to come off the books isn’t as great as we might think.
The Blue Jays will need to make some tough decisions in the months following this season. They might not be popular ones. I want Edwin to stay just as much as anyone. But, when push comes to shove and the possibility exists for the club to have to choose where they spend their money, the Blue Jays could look to rob from Peter (or Edwin) to pay Paul (or Price). This won’t make some people happy, but the reality is that baseball is a business. Sometimes business dictates that you make some tough decisions. And, if it means retaining Price and/or more winning, we’ll all eventually get over it.
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