Are The Jays Only Offering Edwin A Two-Year Extension?

Edwin Encarnacion
Photo Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports, having an abscessed tooth

What, precisely, is an “Encarnacion loyalist”?

That’s the only question one could possibly come away from Bob Elliott’s latest for the Toronto Sun with. The venerable reporter says that he spoke to one such loyalist, “of which there are many in the right-field corner at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium,” and was told that word in “Encarnacion loyalist” circles is that the Jays “made him a one-year offer at the winter meetings and then a two-year offer.”

Does being a loyalist give one access to Encarnacion? Is this person an agent? An agent adjunct? Do we have reason to believe he’d know anything here? Or is it just some dude?

The implication, of course, is that this is more than just a big Edwin fan, but with the lack of specifics, and the fact that the two-year offer nugget is presented as a rumour heard by this person, what exactly am I supposed to be getting from this? Why is the title of the piece (which, as a general rule, is not written by the author) telling me that the Jays need to “respect” Encarnacion and offer more term.

More term, that is, than the rumour from the unidentified guy in the right field corner is saying they offered.

Uh…

That isn’t to say that two years may not be exactly what the Jays are trying to sell Edwin on — and the source of the reported friction between the two sides over contract length — it’s just asking readers to take a pretty big leap of faith before going and frothing at the mouth over it, isn’t it?

Because clearly that’s the desired result, as Elliott’s invoking of the ticking clock on Encarnacion’s self-imposed Opening Day negotiating deadline makes plain.

But can we actually justifiably act aggrieved if the Jays have truly only offered Edwin two years beyond this one? Maybe if it was their absolute final offer we could, because surely he’ll be able to land at least three years on the open market. That is, unless his health or his game goes to shit.

I don’t expect that to happen, and I certainly don’t want that to happen, but as I wrote yesterday, “are we maybe hearing this now from Edwin because the Jays have essentially said, ‘You want to ask us for five years, starting next year, and bet on your health this season not undoing a whole bunch of the value that you hold right now? Hooooookay then!’”

It’s a bit cruel, perhaps, especially because Edwin has such a terrific track record and has so admirably stayed on the field through injury and still managed to be a total fucking boss. But it’s not unfair to be worried about whether he’ll be able to keep holding it together three full seasons from now, as he gets set to enter his age-36 season and the third year of his next contract.

Do I think Edwin is going to be a sunk cost by then? Probably not. But each year you add to the next deal he signs makes that considerably harder to say.

My thinking has always been this: a number of teams will be willing to offer him three years, and there will probably be teams willing to push it to four just to get a deal done, but will anyone actually go to five years? I certainly don’t see it.

What even is his market, anyway? Already we know that not a lot of clubs will be wanting for a DH in 2017. Anaheim has Pujols, Prince Fielder is in Texas, Victor Martinez in Detroit, Nelson Cruz in Seattle, A-Rod in New York (though only through 2017). And you wonder about Edwin coexisting long-term with guys who will ideally see more DH time themselves in the coming years, like Chris Davis in Baltimore, Jose Abreu in Chicago, or one of the many future DH options in Boston.

Maybe that’s being optimistic. Teams can find a way to make room for a hitter of Encarnacion’s calibre… if they think he’ll be able to stay on the field.

They’ll have more data to answer that question with next winter, when Encarnacion is slated to hit the open market, but if the Jays are to work out an extension now, they have to take into account that they just don’t know what age-33 Encarnacion will look like. For me, then, it’s understandable that the club would want to be conservative about it now — not only for their own sake, but because, looking at the injuries he’s been nagged by already and considering what would happen if they really started to accumulate, settling for a three-year extension might not even be the craziest thing for him.

Ian Desmond cost himself a lot of money last year by not taking a huge deal that was in front of him, and while that was for different reasons than what we’d assume Edwin’s could be (performance, rather than health), it’s a pretty striking illustration of the dangers of counting on future dollars when a big pile of money is being offered to you right now.

The Jays’ two-year offer, if it’s really all that they’ve been willing to offer so far, will almost surely not be enough, but it will at least get him thinking about that — and about what his market might realistically look like next winter.

  • RickBosettisUrine

    Isn’t the guy in the right field corner named Joey? Wouldn’t he qualify as an “Encarnacion loyalist”? Isn’t he just trying to point out how cheap Rogers is across the board by pointing out how they’re trying screw Edwin too?

  • muleorastromule

    “Encarnation Loyalists” are a serious problem because with their tri-corner hats and parrots they are easily mistaken for common pirates.

    It’s like those non-racist skinheads who should really just dress some other way.

    • DAKINS

      The non-racist ones came first I believe. I mean, there were a lot of hardcore songs written about skinheads (the non-racist working class punk kind) back in the day, long before that term meant racist prick.

      • muleorastromule

        Oh the non-racist ones definitely came first but they also definitely lost the PR battle to the racist ones.

        But then Jerry Springer just wouldn’t have been the same if it was just a bunch of humorless straight-edgers blathering on about “unity.”

  • OakvilleJays

    It’s odd that Elliott would talk to a fan in RF. Perhaps it is someone in EE’s entourage. I think it will take at least 3 years to bring back EE with a 4th year option. Shapiro has offered incentives in recent contracts, so perhaps EE could get the 4th or 5th year vested depending on plate appearances.

  • Barry

    When Elliott mentions loyalists “in the right-field corner at FAES,” he’s likely referring to players or coaches (or both). The right field corner is where the clubhouse is located.

  • Philbert

    The same thing bugged me when I read that article. Man… I hate conspiracy-theorist stuff, but if it IS a legitimate source, there’s no reason not to at least suggest he has some kind of affiliation with the team. “Loyalist” doesn’t tell anyone anything. It reads as if it’s just some random fan in the stands, but he’s passing it along as if it’s a legitimate rumour.

    Unless he has some kind of reason, he’s being unnecessarily vague.

    • Barry

      I think it’s more a case of Elliott trying to be too clever. I like Elliott, but he sometimes goes for a turn-of-phrase when simple language would be best, and in this case, his “right field corner” identifier has confused people.

      I have little doubt that he’s referring to a teammate, and that he was trying to get that across by referring to the clubhouse by its location in the right-field corner, but he’s counting on readers picking up on the reference, or even knowing that’s where the clubhouse is in the first place. Without that knowledge people think he’s talking about fans, or the person who actually plays in right field.

      I think he’s passing on legit information he heard from a player … On the other hand, it seems like dated information, because the player is referring to what they heard happened after the winter meetings.

    • RADAR

      Elliot does it all the time. His connections in the game go far and deep. He won’t betray a confidence, he is usually bang on with this type of thing.I doubt being vague is unnecessary.

      • Philbert

        He could be vague by referring to the source as “someone who knows Edwin” or “someone affiliated with the team.”

        “Loyalist” goes well beyond the level of vagueness required to protect his source.

        As mentioned above, it could just be Elliott trying to be too clever and causing confusion by making a reference most fans won’t understand, but this isn’t about betraying a confidence.

        • RADAR

          Perhaps. Elliott’s done this before.
          “Loyalist” defines somebody loyal to EE as opposed to an acquaintance or somebody on the other side, such as front office.
          Eliminating somebody from management then defining somebody close to EE whom EE would share those facts with, leaves the most likely candidate to be…dun dun da.
          Bautista ( conspiracy theory )

  • ErnieWhitt

    Unless Edwin is crazy its going to cost as much in the offseason as it will right now. So why not wait? Particularly because of his injury history. The point made by Stoeten is spot on: “(sic) you want us to add 5 years after this one and bet that this year doesn’t decrease your value.” Its a bad deal. Unfortunately, the likely scenario for both Edwin and Jose is that at some point soon they start to become less effective. If it happens this year it would be MUCH better to know that before you begin a long-term extension.

    Either way – it sounds pretty unlikely that either guy is giving you a discount in any sense for negotiating the deal now.. so why do it?

    • Philbert

      That’s a really good point. There’s virtually no chance of them increasing their value this year by over-performing, but they could definitely hurt their value by under-performing or getting hurt. They’re likely both looking for a deal that will pay them as if they have a typical Jose/Edwin 2016 season, so there’s no upside for the team to make that kind of commitment right now.

      • ErnieWhitt

        I guess the one thing I can think of is the value in taking the risk is greater than what it could cost you if you get into a bidding war.. but it sounds like the bar has been set pretty high in both cases so at some point you have to ask the question(s): how many teams are going to even go this high? are we willing to bid over another team at this price if we get to that point? are we willing to move on if the cost for EE/Bats goes so high that it will stop us from being able to field a competitive team?

      • Steve-O

        I mean, EE could hit 65 bombs and play injury-free all year (though he’s admittedly not off to a great start in the latter department), that would certainly increase his value. But I’m just being cheeky, your point stands.

    • Nego

      This is probably the best paragraph I’ve read, print or otherwise, that best sums up the Jays stance on negotiations.

      I wish the extension drama would just go away, instead to many fans and media it will be a talking point right through until next winter, barring an unlikely development.

      Focus on this season (repeating as division champs, not an easy feat) and let the contract stuff sort itself out. If they can’t find a deal that makes sense, move on, take the comp picks, and build around the players that are here (Tulo, JD, Martin, Stroman, Sanchez, etc..). There are a countless number of ways to improve a baseball team. I think resigning Cecil should be a serious priority as well but they hasn’t even been mentioned.

      I’d love to keep both but I’m not going to chuck any statues in any bodies of water if they don’t.

  • muleorastromule

    Just pure speculation here but do you think Mark Shapiro sees the specters of Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher when he thinks about extending Bautista and Encarnacion?

    • Nego

      Don’t see how Bourn is even remotely comparable as all his value was very defensive (I think? Wasn’t he a bad CF? Could be contradicting myself) and baserunning heavy…legs go first, as we’ve seen with Reyes.

      Swisher hasn’t had a season in his entire career as productive as Joey/EEs seasons last year.

      • muleorastromule

        The comp I was making was they were the last big money contracts Cleveland handed out to veterans and they worked out horribly.

        Although now checking my facts (which I should really do first) the year they were signed Shapiro moved up to Team President so I guess that it’s on Chris Antonetti.

    • OakvilleJays

      I think he is reluctant to invest $100M + in both those players. It’s not like Rogers will give him the same amount of money to invest in a starting pitcher or replace them. Shapiro has to hope that Pompey can replace Bautista in RF. Colabello/Smoak can handle 1B/ DH. The team will be a lot weaker without Bautista & EE. Fans should enjoy 2016.