Posted on July 14, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Toronto Blue Jays slugger and free agent to be Edwin Encarnacion is not interested in signing, or even talking about, a contract extension during the season, according to recent reports. His agent, Paul Kinzer, says Encarnacion intends to let the season play out and then hit the free agent market this winter. Encarnacion has blossomed into a star during his time in Toronto and is looking to cash in at the end of the season.
“Once the season started, we were not going to negotiate,” Kinzer said. “He thought it was a distraction last time. He’s the most relaxed I’ve ever seen him. Why mess with the guy? He’s content. He’s happy.” When asked if the Blue Jays had approached him about an extension for Encarnacion, Kinzer said “not really,” which probably means Toronto at least mentioned the idea but was immediately met with resistance from Encarnacion, so the team didn’t push any further. One person close to the Blue Jays front office says the team has made some effort to spark talks between the sides.
The report that Encarnacion has no interest in a mid-season extension comes just a couple days after Boston Red Sox DH David Ortiz suggested his team sign Encarnacion this winter to replace him after he retires following the season. “The Red Sox know that they need to reinforce the middle of the lineup,” Ortiz said. “And sorry Blue Jays, but who better than Encarnacion to do that?”
“It surprised me,” Encarnacion said, flattered after hearing Big Papi’s comments. “But I feel great because people like David Ortiz are thinking about me like that. . . . I don’t think about that, and after the season, I’m going to see what’s going to happen.”
Toronto will be in an interesting position this winter, as both Encarnacion and Jose Bautista are set to be free agents and will likely be wanted commodities on the free agent market due to the power numbers both players have put up in recent years. Of course, both the 33-year old Encarncion and 35-year old Bautista will be seeking long-term deals that include a substantial raise. Encarnacion is making $10 million this season, while Bautista is making $14 million. There has been no apparent progress in a potential extension between the Blue Jays and Bautista, who is considered more of a priority at this point than Encarnacion.
If there’s a silver lining for the Blue Jays, it’s that Kinzer says the fact that Encarnacion not talking midseason is not an indication that he’s unhappy in Toronto. “This doesn’t mean Toronto’s out. This as the plan all along. We were going to play this thing out,” he explained. Ultimately, the Blue Jays need to make sure they retain at least one of their big sluggers this offseason, preferably both. In the meantime, Toronto is focused on getting back to the postseason in 2016. The Blue Jays are currently two games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East and tied with the Red Sox for the two wild card spots.