6. Signing Kendrys Morales over bringing back Edwin Encarnación
Edwin Encarnación “walked the parrot” 239 times in eight season in Toronto, and was a fan favorite and key member of the Blue Jays back-to-back ALCS teams in 2015 and 2016. He’d had bWARs of 4.9 and 4.1, repectively, over those two years, and was still only 33-years old in 2016. However, Ross Atkins inexplicably decided to play a ‘game of chicken’ in contract negotiations, and ended up making a huge error by rushing to sign the declining Kendrys Morales to a three-year, $33 million contract before Edwin could even reject the Jays’ four-year, $80 million offer in November 2016. Morales was barely a 2.0 bWAR player in decline, and was never going to replace the production from Encarnación. EE ended up signing a three-year, $60 million deal with Cleveland.
As per Yahoo!Sports, “Morales posted an underwhelming .760 OPS during his Blue Jays tenure, and was traded, along with cash considerations, to the Oakland Athletics right before the start of the 2019 season. Simply put, the deal was a bust.”
Encarnación posted OPS numbers of .881, .810 and .875 with 104 homers over those same three seasons. And the Blue Jays finished in 4th place in the AL East for three straight years from 2017-2019, with the key lesson hopefully learned that you cannot replace a 4.0 WAR player with a 2.0 WAR player in decline.