Encarnacion, Bautista get qualifying offers, Saunders does not

The Blue Jays, as expected, tendered a $17.2 million qualifying offer to Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, but chose not to do so with Michael Saunders. Both Bautista and Encarnacion will certainly reject the qualifying offers, making them free agents along with Saunders, Brett Cecil, Joaquin Benoit, R.A. Dickey, Scott Feldman, Gavin Floyd, and Dioner Navarro. 

None of this is really news, save for the confirmation that Saunders would not be qualified, which was still somewhat up in the air despite the poor finish to the season he had. But pretty much everything this offseason has gone just as you’d expect. 

So why bother talking about it? Wh not just wait until things have actually happened that we haven’t been expecting for weeks? Well, Steve Simmons wrote a super clickbait-y article in the Sun that suggested the Jays didn’t appear to be all too serious about bringing Edwin back next season. 

This sentiment is based on a quote from Edwin’s agent, which read: We haven’t gotten into anything serious yet. We’re talking. There’s nothing imminent. That’s all I can tell you right now. We’re continuing to talk.”

I usually wouldn’t bother with a Simmons troll piece, but as Stoeten pointed out on Twitter last night, this is the kind of stuff that ultimately becomes the narrative that we hear day in, day out for months. And if Simmons, just a couple days into free agency, is twirling ideas that the Jays actually aren’t that serious about signing Edwin, it means this is going to be the beginning of something we’re going to be hearing about for a looooooong time. 

So rather than letting this unsubstantiated narrative bubble, let’s take a second to see what’s going on here. 

First of all, literally nobody signs a contract during the five-day contract negotiation window. This isn’t some week where Shapiro, Edwin, and a bunch of other guys lock themselves in a basement and try to pound out a deal before the clock runs out. It doesn’t make any sense for a player who’s looking for an opportunity to weigh their options on the open market, and it also doesn’t make any sense for a team to invest a bunch of cash before the market has been set. 

For example, Marco Estrada declined the Jays’ qualifying offer last season, and we all assumed he would sign elsewhere, cash in on his career season, and Toronto would get a draft pick out of it. Then, a couple of weeks later, Estrada signed a two-year deal. It was the same with Chris Davis and Yoenis Cespedes, who didn’t re-sign with the Orioles and Mets respectively until mid-January. It doesn’t happen, and it makes sense why it doesn’t, especially when you’re dealing with someone like Encarnacion who could be the most sought after free agent on the market. 

I mean, are the Jays really going to pony up and hand out a contract offer to Edwin right now based off of rumours that the Red Sox are going to hand him a blank cheque with their signature on it? Of course not. If the Sox do ultimately decide they need more lefties, speed, versatility, or that they simply don’t want to make a massive splash on a guy over 30 years old for the third winter in a row, it’s going to significantly lower the cost to keep him in Toronto. 

If I had to venture a guess, I would assume that Shapiro and Co. told Edwin’s agent back in spring that they were going to wait and see how free agency panned out to offer him a new deal. That’s why nothing was done in April, and it’s why nothing will be done before the negotiation window passes. I imagine that the Sox, Yankees, or whoever will offer Edwin a deal, and since he’s openly stated he wants to remain a Blue Jay, the two sides will then touch base to figure out of something can be worked out based on the other offers. 

Of course, we don’t know what’s going to happen. I mean, hell, Simmons could be totally correct in his suggestion that the Jays aren’t serious about bringing Edwin back, but it sure as hell isn’t because they haven’t managed to reach a deal during the five-day negotiation window.