Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. I just happened to have booked some travel in the wake of the whole global despair thing that’s currently ongoing, so getting into the inevitable push and pull of Edwin talk, and whatever other little news that’s filtered out, hasn’t exactly been easy for a couple of reasons.
But right now we happen to have a story that’s worth addressing, and I happen to have some hours to spare at the Houston airport, and I can think of nothing better than to dive into this stuff a little bit — certainly not flying; that shit’s terrifying!
So… yeah, R.A. Dickey has signed with the Braves! I’m not sure that statement is worth an exclamation, because he sure as hell wasn’t going to end up back here — except maybe eye-roll-worthy hypotheticals where the Jays sign him in order to move Marcus Stroman or J.A. Happ for something better — but good on him. Hard not to wish him well.
I wrote about Dickey and his relationship with the fans and his legacy a little bit last week, and that’s probably all we need to say about that. (Jon Heyman notes that it’s an $8 million deal with a $7.5 million option for next season, with a $500K buyout, in case you wanted a reminder of how good Marco Estrada at $13 million per year and Happ at $12 million is).
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OK. So… the other stuff. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet has written a whole lot of great stuff from the G.M. meetings, which are taking place in… I wanna say Scottsdale?
Wherever they are, Edwin seems to be central to a whole lot of talk — not just the Jays’ — and understandably so. Teams aren’t going to start looking to Jose Bautista, or whoever else, as an alternative until they know that they’re out on Encarnacion.
There is also uncertainty, as Shi noted in a notebook post from last night, with respect to the upcoming changes to the collective bargaining agreement. In Shi’s piece, Red Sox GM (or whatever his title is) Dave Dombrowski mentioned concerns about potential changes to the level at which teams will receive luxury tax penalties, while Scott Boras mentions the qualifying offer process.
That one’s slightly interesting, as someone made the suggestion (I can’t seem to look it up from this airport bar *COUGH*) that it might be in Jose Bautista’s interest to at least wait and see if Qualifying Offers will exist under the next CBA. The idea there is that re-entering the market next winter, with a better walk year under his belt and knowing that the QO won’t be there to suppress his market, might make more sense than simply taking what the market will give him now. It’s probably a long shot, but if the market for his services has been soft so far, it’s not crazy to wait — if you believe you’re not hurting your bottom line to do so.
The QO isn’t a real concern for Edwin, though. The luxury tax thing could be, at least in Boston. But maybe that doesn’t even matter! To wit:
Paul Kinzer made it sound like Edwin’s down to a short list – Toronto at the top – and that a decision’s coming soon. Boston slow-playing ..
— Jeff Blair (@SNJeffBlair) November 10, 2016
This jibes with a WEEI.com piece from Rob Bradford, in which he reports that Dave Dombrowski’s plans at the DH position involves getting a short-term player, and someone who “isn’t just a DH,” which Bradford surmises “most likely [eliminates] the candidacy of Edwin Encarnacion.”
Well that’s good. And Edwin’s agent apparently is saying it, too. But that doesn’t mean a whole lot. Dombrowski could be playing games through the media with Kinzer, he could change his mind, or the Jays could find competition from clubs like Houston, Texas, or others. Assuming they’re even willing to make a competitive offer to Edwin.
— Travis MacKenzie (@TAMacKenzie) November 10, 2016
And speaking of the Jays speaking to players, Shi reported on Wednesday night that they are “very much taking a long, hard[, throbbing] look at other options” on the offensive side of the ball. (Ohhh, and this was the piece where that person — a rival executive, it turns out — said Bautista “would be wise” to accept the QO). The club had reportedly pushed to extend Encarnacion as their exclusive negotiating window came to a close — though if you’re the Jays, that’s exactly what you’d want people to think! — but by Wednesday had been meeting with other agents and clubs about potential trades… as you’d fully fucking expect them to do anyway.
Also of note from that post of Shi’s, plus the notebook post I linked above:
The players the Jays are talking to are… a number of the guys I mentioned in my latest for VICE Sports, such as Kendrys Morales, Jon Jay, Josh Reddick, Dexter Fowler, and Brandon Moss (who I think I ignored?). He also tells us that there appears to be strong interest in Brett Cecil, and he quotes Ross Atkins on the idea of making a Liriano-like trade to take back salary and talent, plus more, for one of his cheaper and younger pieces, which… he’s open to, but it like every damn thing else, it would have to make the team better, and fit better with the core that’s in place now.
Speaking of Liriano, in the notebook post Shi speaks to Pirates GM Neal Huntington, who reveals that the Pirates’ experience was that National League hitters had figured him out a little bit, and stopped swinging at him. In that post Shi also tells us that Josh Donaldson won’t require surgery on his hip (fuck yes!), and that Atkins is merely “optimistic” that Devon Travis will be ready for Spring Training, which… guh?
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Oh yeah, and back on Tuesday, Shi reported some remarks from Mark Shapiro, who said that club expects to have more big league payroll at their disposal in 2017. Or, at least, Shapiro vaguely suggested as much enough to give Davidi the confidence to report it. That’s… good! If it’s true. Which… we’ll see, won’t we?
Of note in that piece was some of Shapiro’s thoughts on long-term finances. In particular, this quote: “The approach on the business side has to be two-fold. Much like the baseball side, instead of looking for the one or two big areas of opportunity, we have to operate with excellence and high standards across our business and look for hundreds of little opportunities that can make a big impact. Two, in the longer term, the largest scale opportunity to help our business evolve and grow rests in the renovation of Rogers Centre. That represents the biggest upside opportunity for our business.”
That’s… interesting. I’ve been typing in a damn airport bar for too long now to get too deep into it, but I suppose it says something about how little the club expects to get from TV revenue — or, at least, how little potential growth is left in that stream — and how important it is to really nail the renovations of the building to, a) maximize the revenue streams they can get out of it (how about a licensed pre-game area already!), which probably means more areas like the flight deck, and more luxurious luxury boxes, etc., and b) to keep the facility big league worthy for the next 15 or 20 years. After all, they sure as hell can’t build a new one and expect to have the public pay fo– *CHOKES*
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Late update!: Shi has wrapped up his GM Meetings coverage, and he cites sources that say the Jays and Edwin’s camp seem to be talking “more deliberately” with others than they are with each other, and a pair of sources split on where he ultimately lands: here or Houston. Which is to say, since I’m actually in Houston, Toronto or here.
The lack of a state income tax could give the Astros an edge, and they’re certainly a team with money (because of their cheap, young core). The Jays being home for Edwin could give them an edge, though. Did you see how bad attendance was in a damn playoff race was when the Jays visited this summer? C’MON AND DO THIS ALREADY.