When asked about his first real free agency experience, Edwin Encarnacion was pretty candid, admitting that the Blue Jays were his first choice all along.
The Blue Jays dealt with arguably their most difficult free agency period in franchise history, facing the prospect of losing both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Fast forward to today, and the Blue Jays were able to retain Bautista, but saw Encarnacion sign with the Cleveland Indians .
When asked about his first go-around with free agency, Encarnacion didn’t hold much back, admitting that the Blue Jays were his first choice all along in a Sportsnet article on Monday.
“Toronto was always my first option, but I had never been a free agent, and anybody who gets to free agency wants to find out what’s out there”.
In case you missed the details, Encarnacion ultimately signed a 3 year, 60 million dollar deal with Cleveland, that could end up being a 4 year, 80 million dollar deal if Cleveland picks up the 4th year option. The Blue Jays reportedly offered Encarnacion a 4 year, 80 million dollar contract at the beginning of free agency, but quickly moved on when he and his agent, Paul Kinzer, decided to see if they could do better in free agency.
As it turns out, that was a big mistake. I sent this tweet out in January, and I stand by the statement today.
In Encarnacion’s defence, he had never been a free agent and he could hardly be blamed for wanting to see how the process played out. He wanted to secure the best possible deal he could, especially at the age of 34, as it would likely be the last big contract of his career.
After having hit 42 home runs and co-leading the AL in RBI at 127 with David Ortiz, it’s hard to blame the slugger for wanting to see what free agency had to offer. However, the Blue Jays made a very strong offer to the Dominican slugger early on, which turned out to be (reportedly) the best offer he would receive.
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“I think they got too hasty in making their decision, but now I’m with Cleveland and I’m happy to be here”.
Encarnacion may believe the Blue Jays were too hasty, and maybe they were, but that doesn’t change how things played out.
As much as it stings to see Encarnacion taking swings in a different uniform, it’s hard to blame the Blue Jays for the way things resolved. They made Encarnacion a more than fair offer, and had to secure their DH/first base positions in the event that he signed elsewhere. It was hard to imagine that the first offer he received (from the Jays), would ultimately be the best one, but that’s exactly how it ended up.
So while the Blue Jays’ legend may feel the club was too hasty in making their decision, it’s a moot point today. If given a mulligan, it’s likely that both parties would approach the situation a little differently, but that’s not how these things work.
Fortunately for the Blue Jays, Encarnacion’s comments give them an endorsement, whether that was his intention or not.
It also begs the question, how do Cleveland Indians’ fans feel about that sort of statement?
I’ll say this, if Kendrys Morales was lamenting his lost position with the Royals, there were be a lot of disheartened Blue Jays fans.