Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion is entering his free agent year in 2016. He’ll be hitting the market at 33 years old, and with average of 35+ home runs and 100+ RBI over his past four seasons, Encarnacion could cash in big on a four-to-five year contract. This situation has been slightly overshadowed by Jose Bautista‘s expiring deal, but that could change with a report from earlier today that Encarnacion is setting a deadline.
Bradford’s report also indicates that Encarnacion’s representatives will be meeting with Blue Jays management at the Winter Meetings this week to discuss their future together. Mark Shapiro’s philosophy and his DiamondView days in Cleveland don’t give a great deal of optimism to either the Bautista or Encarnacion’s negotiations, but if there’s truth to this being a deadline, especially a hard deadline, the Jays will be forced into making a decision sooner than they’d like.
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The inclusion of Boston monitoring the situation will draw another groan from the Blue Jays faithful who just watched David Price introduced on a seven-year, $217 million deal within the division. Money surely wouldn’t be an issue for the Red Sox next offseason either, and the fit would be all too natural. David Ortiz out, Edwin Encarnacion in.
It’s not uncommon for players and/or agents to set deadlines like this in negotiations, which can range from a complete bluff to a hard-lined stance. While it’s a negotiation tactic in many ways, it’s also a preference of many players who do not wish for the distraction of negotiations throughout the season. Having a “yes” or “no” answer entering the year allows Encarnacion to dive in fully, not forced to worry about his value fluctuating week-to-week as part of ongoing contract talks.
The Bautista and Encarnacion decisions will say more about the Shapiro and Atkins leadership group than anything we’ll see this offseason. Now, it seems like we could be getting our first answer earlier than expected.