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.
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.