NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Toronto Blue Jays have until spring training to negotiate a contract extension beyond 2016 with Edwin Encarnacion or else the star slugger intends to test free agency, according to industry sources.
Encarnacion signed a $27-million, three-year contract that included a $10-million option that covers 2016 back in July 2012, a deal negotiated in-season and signed during the all-star break. It’s believed the star slugger doesn’t want to deal with the process while playing this time.
The sides are expected to meet during this week’s winter meetings, according to sources, now that the Blue Jays having accomplished most of their heavy lifting this winter. New general manager Ross Atkins said Friday that the search for “complementary” pieces continues.
The club’s plan had been to circle back and examine extensions for Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, once most of their winter business was finished. They both qualified for 10-and-5 rights last year giving them no-trade protection, among other things.
Last June, Encarnacion told Sportsnet that he wanted to remain in Toronto long term.
“I’m very happy with the five years I’ve had here, and time goes fast,” he said then. “I remember when I got traded in 2009 and now I have five years here, and I feel like it’s home, I feel like I want to stay here and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”
How the Blue Jays handle both Encarnacion and Bautista will go a long way in determining how their competitive window sets up for 2017 and beyond.