ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Edwin Encarnacion is solely focused on the 2016 season now that his opening day deadline for negotiation of a contract extension with the Toronto Blue Jays has passed without a new deal.
The 33-year-old slugger’s representatives and the Blue Jays haven’t spoken in a few weeks, and there was no last-ditch effort to try and get something done, so it’s no surprise that an agreement wasn’t reached.
Encarnacion, who slashed .277/.372/.557 with 39 homers and 111 RBIs in 146 games last season, intends to move the business end of things to the backburner to avoid the distraction in-season.
"That’s why I wanted to do it the way I did it, because after today I don’t want to talk anymore or anything like that," he said in an interview Sunday before the season opener versus the Tampa Bay Rays. "I just want to focus on my game and focus on my team and focus on winning games."
It’s believed that when Encarnacion and the Blue Jays last spoke, the team suggested a two-year contract, a total non-starter. Given how power has been compensated on the open market, a four-year deal doesn’t seem unreasonable for a DH/first baseman who ranks second in the majors in home runs (151) and RBIs (423), fourth in slugging (.549) and eighth in OPS (.919) since 2012.
He’s disappointed a deal wasn’t reached.
"If they were going to do something, I was ready," said Encarnacion. "I know I want to stay here, I’d love to stay here, but it’s not my decision, it’s not something I can control. I’m going to focus on my season and see what’s coming."
Encarnacion is one of 10 pending free agents on the Blue Jays roster and along with Jose Bautista, among the most critical. At the team’s request, Bautista gave them a number it would take for him to forego free agency and sign a contract right away, and he also appears headed for the open market.
Encarnacion 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.
He missed the entire Grapefruit League season with an abscessed tooth and a minor oblique injury, appearing only in five minor-league games last week.
"The last game (on Friday) I felt great, was seeing the ball (well)," said Encarnacion. "The games I played, only in one game I didn’t feel good. The other four games I felt great, saw the ball great, hit the ball (well)."