Encarnacion, Blue Jays held preliminary contract talks

Edwin Encarnacion will be a free agent after the 2016 season, but the Blue Jays would be smart to take a look at the slugger’s accomplishments even when he was playing through pain.

DUNEDIN, Fla. – The Toronto Blue Jays and the representatives for pending free-agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion held a preliminary meeting Wednesday.

It’s unclear if there’s a timeline for more substantive discussions toward a contract extension for the first baseman/designated hitter to begin, but Encarnacion doesn’t want negotiations dragging into the regular season.

“I want to concentrate on helping this team win games,” he said last week.

Encarnacion is one of 10 pending free agents on the Blue Jays roster and along with Jose Bautista, among the most critical. He’ll be one of the most coveted players on the open market if he gets there, and is in position to command a substantial contract given that since 2012, he ranks second in the majors in home runs (151) and RBI (423), is fourth in slugging (.549) and eighth in OPS (.919).

The 33-year-old is completing a contract that will have paid him $37 million over four years by season’s end that was negotiated during the 2012 campaign and signed during the all-star break.

“I want to stay on this team, I love this team, I love this city but it [doesn’t] depend on me,” Encarnacion said last week. “It depends what they’re thinking. I hope we get it done so I can stay here for the rest of my career.”

Encarnacion was away from the team for a third straight day Wednesday after having an abscessed tooth removed earlier this week.