Now in his eighth season with the Blue Jays, Edwin Encarnacion will be hitting the free agent market for the first time this offseason
Four days without baseball and the looming July 31st trade deadline can do a lot of things to the MLB news cycle.
Yesterday, Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball reported that Edwin Encarnacion would not be negotiating a contract extension with the Blue Jays in-season. Which is exactly what we’ve been hearing since the outset of spring training.
Encarnacion’s agent Paul Kinzer cited his client’s last in-season extension talks as their reason to avoid them this time around. Which is exactly what we’ve been hearing since the outset of spring training.
“Once the season started, we were not going to negotiate,” Kinzer told Heyman. “He thought it was a distraction last time. He’s the most relaxed I’ve ever seen him. Why mess with the guy? He’s content. He’s happy.”
Kinzer is right: why mess with the groove that Encarnacion finds himself in? In 35 games since the beginning of June, the 33-year-old has hit .312 with a 1.121 OPS and 13 home runs. He’s also matched his 25 strikeouts with 25 walks.
“There had been some thought the Jays might try to revive contracts talks during the season,” Heyman wrote, “and a Jays person said they’ve made some overtures to rekindle things.”
While his defence will never be a dominant tool, his glove has been more than enough to support his bat, and given the recent struggles of Justin Smoak, Encarnacion could very well see a bump in fielding time down the stretch.
So the Blue Jays are where they’ve been for the past four-to-five months, a team with a slugging DH approaching free agency, and that’s just fine. Power numbers pay on the open market, but the Blue Jays will have every opportunity to remain involved in negotiations, and Encarnacion’s ties to the city count for something more than zero.
The recent All-Star Game fed the drama perfectly, with Encarnacion pinch-running for countryman David Ortiz. The Red Sox DH, who is due to retire at the end of the season, singled out Encarnacion as an ideal replacement for him at Fenway next year following the game, a link that’s already been made several times due to the obvious fit.
This storyline will surface and re-surface repeatedly until free agency begins, and understandably so given the significance, but very little has changed along the way.