Edwin Encarnacion hit like a monster yesterday in the Blue Jays’ 15-1 thrashing of the Tigers. Before the game, we had written up a couple pieces about his future as a Blue Jay that published in what looked to be poor timing. Firstly, Ryan Mueller suggested the Blue Jays could, not should, trade EE in the winter. I followed that with a piece on whether the club might look at not even picking up his option in an effort to use that money elsewhere. Both posts were met with varying levels of anger. It is odd considering both were meant as discussion pieces.
But, to appease the masses, here is what the Toronto Blue Jays SHOULD do with Edwin Encarnacion. This is what I actually want to see happen and what makes the most sense in the land of realistic prognosticating.
Encarnacion is turning 33 years old this winter. That means he still has a few more years of being the 30-35 home run threat that he has been. He has a few years of driving in 100 runs. He still has a few years of great value left. When this season is over, the Blue Jays will be left with a decision regarding his contract. They will decide whether to pick up his $10M option and keep him for another year or pay him $2M and use the remaining $8M for other things.
Toronto Blue Jays
Originally signed for 3yr/$29M, the Blue Jays have been getting a tremendous discount on his production. In fact, Fangraphs.com suggests that the actual value of his production over the life of that deal has been over $80M! And, he’s not done in 2015. So, a $10M salary for next year is ridiculously cheap. The benefit of having his bat versus the cost of picking up the option is quite an easy decision. So, the Blue Jays SHOULD pick up his 2016 option.
It keeps Edwin’s bat in the lineup that has been scoring runs at a phenomenal rate. It brings back a proven commodity. You know what you’re getting and don’t have to depend so heavily on replacements like Chris Colabello and Justin Smoak. Those were names we threw out when looking at why the Blue Jays might feel comfortable not having Edwin. We never said they were equal to the Bringer of Chicken Wings. But, if a club is looking to use other resources, they are there. But, picking up Edwin’s option means you aren’t forced into hoping those two can fill the gap.
Picking up Edwin Encarnacion’s option for next season also sets the club up for a couple possibilities. Firstly, they could explore trades in the off season if they really feel there is a valuable piece coming in return that would be worth giving up such a cost effective bat. In May and June there were several Blue Jays fans calling for the trade of Edwin because they thought it might net some pitching help. Of course, trading him depends on a team who needs a 1B/DH type. National Legaue teams might be more hesitant to give him regular at bats as a first baseman. Although, Milwaukee did take Adam Lind. So, it might be possible.
Another option that could be explored later is trading EE mid season, depending on how things go. That is not to say that the club should be looking to dump him, but it’s the Trade Deadline and you have to listen. Depending on what is out there and what position this team is in in July of next year, Edwin could be turned into a prospect or more. Of course, as a 10-5 guy, he would have to approve any trade, thus making this more difficult. But, if the Blue Jays are in a position to trade big players for prospects, EE might welcome the chance to play for a contending team.
And, the third option is that they keep him all year and extend a qualifying offer. Given his age and track record, Edwin might be looking for that final contract. The Blue Jays could extend the offer and see if he signs elsewhere in order for them to pick up the draft pick attached. It could lead to a drawn out drama a la Melky Cabrera.
And, just so I’m clear, I want Edwin to be a Blue Jay in 2016. In fact, if I were GM, I might even explore the possibility of another 3 year deal with him. That’s how much I want him to stay. I remember when he was booed mercilessly at Rogers Centre. I remember when the club cut him loose. And, that is why I am enjoying his current run so much. I’m a huge EE fan. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t think about what his future involves. Running a baseball team has so many layers. Edwin’s situation does too.
All of this is getting way ahead of ourselves, of course. We’re looking past the current 24 game hit streak Edwin is on. We’re looking past the playoff race this club is in. We’re looking past the fact that playoff tickets are being sold in Toronto. We’re looking too far ahead. I am fully aware that we should be enjoying the moment and not be bringing up difficult and depressing conversations. We should be enjoying the ride.
Our pieces from yesterday were not meant to disrespect the day Edwin Encarnacion had. They weren’t meant to take away from the success of the Toronto Blue Jays. They were meant to generate some discussion around the bigger picture of running a baseball club. They were ideas we threw out for discussion. Today’s post outlines where I stand. This is what the Toronto Blue Jays SHOULD do with Edwin Encarnacion.