Photo Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
If I didn’t trust Shi Davidi’s reporting as much as I do, it would probably be easy to get cynical about a report like the one he published at Sportsnet here on Monday night, coming on the heels of Steve Simmons’ silly declaration that the Blue Jays don’t seem serious about re-signing the slugger. In it he says quite the opposite, reporting that according to “industry sources” there have, in fact, been “some fruitful talks” that “have apparently given the slugger something to think about.”
Might a front office that did so poorly in last winter’s PR war be looking to get ahead of potential bad press on this front, or at the very least building in an excuse to avoid the “didn’t even make him an offer” nonsense that ended up clouding David Price’s defection to Boston? Could Edwin’s people, on the heels of Rick Westhead’s report that he’s looking for a five-year $125 million contract, be wanting word to get out that they’re more reasonable than that? Or to try to force the hands of other interested parties with the idea of a Blue Jays quick strike?
That’s the kind of stuff that will inevitably race through our minds at this time of year, not unfairly, and it’s not always easy to keep our heads on straight about it. There could be any number of ways to read it, if you really want to get creative.
The way I’d… uh… prefer to read it, though? That industry sources think there have been some fruitful talks between the Jays and Edwin Encarnacion that have “apparently given the slugger something to think about”!!!
It’s not totally crazy. Teams can’t make free agents formal offers at this point, but they can certainly talk and get an idea of what the market is — an obvious concept that, I feel I must note, would have rendered the aforementioned David Price nonsense moot, had the media been actually willing to treat that “news” like the non-story it truly was.
More than most, Edwin seems genuinely to want to remain a Blue Jay. Price said all the right things, and maybe he really meant them, but he was here for such a short period of time that it was tough to have ever taken such talk too seriously. Or at least not as seriously as we might with Edwin, who it has long been said truly loves it here, and who let those feelings shine through at times as this season came to a close.
Of course, there’s no way to know if this is that, or the other thing, or something else entirely. I’d still be surprised if the Jays actually did end up re-signing Edwin. But holy shit, I hope they actually do. Not just because of sentimentality, but because of what it would say about how they view themselves — about what kind of team they want to be and what kind of resources they’re comfortable using in order to get there.
Do it. Pay him.
Ken Rosenthal adds his voice to this:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 8, 2016
Rosenthal is especially great because he’s clear, he gives credit, and because he understands the power of his words. And what he’s saying here is that he’s hearing the same things Shi is. He’s not just passing along Shi’s report. He’s corroborating it.
Re-reading Shi’s report, there is nothing in it about the sides specifically talking again tomorrow, so this is new news.
Translation: The seriousness level of all this just went up a notch.
And it’s worth noting, to contrast this, that Shi says “discussions with Bautista and Saunders aren’t believed to have progressed far.”
But let’s not go nuts here. As John Lott points out, the players union would likely not be happy with a premier free agent eschewing the market at this late stage. The object is, he adds, to start bidding wars that drive up salaries. And as much as that doesn’t necessarily seem to fit Edwin’s personality, let’s not discount how vitally important the union has been to Edwin’s career, his earnings, and his ability to cash in the way he’s about to, and how uncomfortable it could get with his union brethren if he’s made something of a pariah.
But let’s not overstate all that either.
Because the thing is, the idea that they could get something sorted out doesn’t have to be crazy. And once the Blue Jays’ exclusive negotiating window ends at 12:01 AM ET on Tuesday (about an hour from the time of this writing), the union loses a not insignificant chunk of their ability to claim Edwin didn’t give the market a fair shake. Especially given that Rosenthal is saying that talks are going to be happening tomorrow.
I’m still in I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it mode on this, but it’s not entirely inconceivable that Edwin came to the Jays saying, in essence, “I want to stay here but I need a fair market deal.” That’s probably not great negotiation form, but maybe neither side wants this to linger. And maybe the Jays have reached a stage in their importance to Rogers that ownership is willing to approve a version of the budget with Edwin but not willing to green light as much spending without. Or they’ve got a number they’re willing to go to with Edwin, and they cut though a bunch of bullshit and now know his camp’s internal number is close. That’s purely my speculation — and it’s maybe not even particularly good speculation — but I don’t know… maybe?
What I do know is that if this is actually happening, it would signal some very different behaviour than what we’re used to from the Blue Jays. Especially with so many other holes on the club still to be filled. That would be great, but it’s also reason for skepticism. Even if I can get past the odd rush into a move like this and the union concerns, I still have a hard time believing the new front office would limit their financial flexibility for the rest of the winter with a big signing like this. But if they did it sure would be interesting. And welcome. Bigly.
(Not in the least because if would fuck with the fucking Red Sox and their entitled plans.)