Blue Jays: An Edwin Encarnacion reunion actually seems possible

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19: Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19: Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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The Blue Jays’ front office has reshaped the roster and moved on from the Alex Anthopoulos era of this team, but that doesn’t mean they’ve ruled out a reunion with Edwin Encarnacion.

When the New York Yankees declined Edwin Encarnacion‘s 20 million dollar option for the 2020 campaign, as Blue Jays fans many of us couldn’t help but dream on a reunion with the endearing slugger. However, as much as the fan in me wanted to see it happen, I didn’t think the Blue Jays’ current front office would consider something like that.

As it turns out, I might have been wrong, as there have been interesting comments from both the Blue Jays, and Encarnacion as well, and it sounds like the two parties are at least open to the idea.

A few days ago, Shi Davidi from Sportsnet published an article with a few noteworthy quotes from Ross Atkins, including addressing Encarnacion. Davidi asked the Blue Jay GM about which veteran was the most difficult to part with as they’ve initiated this rebuild over the last few years, and you guessed it, that would ‘EE’.

"“He’s just such an incredible person, he was such a great piece to the equation that we were really aggressive in trying to (retain) him and it didn’t work out. In hindsight, we could have handled that differently, for sure. But that one was a tough one for me and I still remain very respectful of him and am in touch with him and his representation.”"

For those that have forgotten or weren’t following the team back then, the Blue Jays made a free agent offer to Encarnacion at the end of the 2016 season, and when he decided to test the market to explore all of his options, the Blue Jays quickly pivoted and signed Kendrys Morales to a three year deal. With the benefit of hindsight, it was not a smart decision to be impatient in that case, and it’s good that Atkins acknowledges that now.

However, it’s the end of the quote that I find particularly interesting, as Atkins mentioned that he is “in touch with him and his representation”. That could mean a lot of things, but it sounds like the 46-year-old GM hasn’t ruled out bringing back his beloved veteran. Although he’ll soon be 37 year old, “Edwing” proved he’s still a dangerous hitter last season, hitting 34 home runs in just 418 at-bats and racking up 2.7 bWAR, which isn’t easy to do as a DH and occasional first baseman.

If Encarnacion were to return, chances are he would need to pick up his first base glove a bit to help fill out the depth behind Rowdy Tellez. The veteran isn’t an ideal fit in that role at this stage of his career, but he’s certainly capable of playing first base on a part-time basis, and would likely provide some very valuable leader for Tellez, and the rest of the young Blue Jays infield.

For what it’s worth, it sounds like Encarnacion hasn’t written off a return to the Blue Jays either. He was interviewed on the MLB Network earlier today, and talked about his love for Toronto, the great memories from that period of his career, and that his options are certainly open. That’s a far cry from Josh Donaldson‘s response this week of “They don’t want me back. Trust me”.

Does any of this mean that Encarnacion is going to come back to Toronto? Of course not, but it’s intriguing to know that both parties seem open to the idea, and I imagine the market will dictate things. In reality, Encarnacion should still have a market with contending teams due to his production, and in a fair world he would get paid pretty well to do it. That said, with the way the game has trended in recent years, players of his profile have been forced to settle for far below market value.

Next. Would Hyun-Jin Ryu fit the bill in Toronto?. dark

I don’t believe the Blue Jays will be the ones to set that value for Encarnacion, but if the market isn’t particularly kind to him then who knows?

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