Edwin Encarnacion and the Toronto Blue Jays are no more, and it’s everyone’s fault.
It’s the Blue Jays, fault — from ownership right through the front office.
It’s Paul Kinzer’s fault, certainly, for misjudging the market then becoming so visibly and vocally involved in pushing and guiding the narrative.
It’s the whole market’s fault, actually, and leave some blame left over for the owners and MLBPA reps who signed off on the qualifying offer system that caused draft pick compensation to cloud Encarnacion’s market.
It’s Andrew Miller’s fault and Francisco Lindor’s for carrying Cleveland through the playoffs, which brought an unexpected financial influx to that organization.
It’s Kendrys Morales’ fault for signing with the Blue Jays when they came calling, which allowed Toronto to lessen their urgency. Hell, sprinkle some blame on Steve Pearce’s arrival, Rowdy Tellez’s growth, and Justin Smoak’s contract along the way.
It’s Russell Martin’s fault and Troy Tulowitzki’s for for being so bold as to earn $20 million each over the next three seasons while Encarnacion will be in Cleveland. Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna, and Devon Travis aren’t exempt, either, with their eventual raises through arbitration needing attention. The same goes for Josh Donaldson on an even larger scale.
A nuisance, they are.
It’s Edwin Encarnacion’s fault, perhaps more than anyone’s. After flourishing in Toronto over eight seasons and being underpaid for his all-world power over the past several years, Encarnacion turned down a reported offer of four years and $80 million from the Blue Jays earlier in the off-season. Toronto was forced to move on quickly and risk either missing out on a more affordable deal, or stand pat and missing out on their ‘A’ and ‘B’ options.
It’s time’s fault, too. So frustratingly linear.
It’s Ryan Howard’s fault and Prince Fielder’s for giving such recent examples of how mega-deals to first base/DH types can so quickly fall apart.
It’s the Canadian dollar’s fault. A fluctuant thorn in the side, that is.
It’s Boston’s fault, too, those divisional pests. How was Cleveland supposed to retrace their steps to the World Series with the Red Sox stockpiling for a merciless steamroll of the American League.
In the end, these all cancel one another out. It’s a game of ifs and maybes and detached bits of what might have been.
When Encarnacion arrived in Toronto back in 2009, he was supposed to be another player that rolled along the assembly line. Skilled but flawed. One year or three years and then some combination or arbitration bumps or injuries or trades would see him leave again, noteworthy to some but rarely remembered.
It didn’t play out that way. Instead, he developed into one of the most complete and feared hitters in all of Major League Baseball.
Encarnacion averaged nearly 40 home runs and 110 RBI over the past five seasons, earning three trips to the All-Star game.
The gentle giant was a centrepiece of the Blue Jays teams that shook Toronto out of a two-decade nap and introduced a new generation of young fans to October baseball. This reinvigorated the game not just in Toronto, but across Canada.
Baseball was, and is, cool again. That wasn’t always the case.
In the World Series years and those that followed, young Blue Jays fans all had their own iconic moments to recreate. One could skip up the first-base line like Joe Carter, whip a throw across their body and across the diamond like Tony Fernandez, or club a low fastball 600 feet like Carlos Delgado.
Nowadays, those same kids will dive for any ball within reach while yelling “Pillar!”, or toss their aluminum bat to the side with a “Hell, yeah” face a la Jose Bautista.
And some of them — still — will round first base with their elbow stretched out perpendicular to their body, looking completely and entirely unnatural. Why? To carry a parrot, of course.
That’s Edwin Encarnacion’s fault.