SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Toronto Blue Jays are making a push to re-sign Edwin Encarnacion after some fruitful talks have apparently given the free-agent slugger something to think about, industry sources told Sportsnet.
Things have the potential to move fast, but that’s no guarantee the sides will reach an agreement. An important factor at play is Encarnacion’s desire to remain with the Blue Jays, but he’ll be able to negotiate with all 30 teams starting at 12:01 a.m. ET Tuesday night and will be highly sought.
The Blue Jays formally extended $17.2 million qualifying offers to Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, but not to Michael Saunders ahead of Monday’s 5 p.m. ET deadline. Discussions with Bautista and Saunders aren’t believed to have progressed far.
Like Encarnacion, Bautista is eager to remain with the Blue Jays but will turn down his qualifying offer because he’ll beat it on the open market. The penalty of surrendering a draft pick to sign a qualified free agent can reduce interest in a player, but that shouldn’t impact Bautista’s market.
Saunders, on the other hand, may have faced a much tougher market if he was tied to a qualifying offer, which is why he may have accepted the strong salary for one season. After an all-star worthy first half gave way to a quiet second half, the Blue Jays didn’t feel they could risk paying him that much.
Still, at least six teams are believed to have legitimate interest in the outfielder and he’s expected to end up with a multi-year deal.
Encarnacion is positioned as one of the market’s top offensive players after hitting 42 homers with 127 RBIs and an .886 OPS this past season. Since the start of the 2012 season, he’s hit 193 homers with 550 RBIs and a .912 OPS.
He’s become a fan favourite for both his production and his parrot-walking home run trots, one he displayed during his walkoff three-run shot that beat the Baltimore Orioles in the wild-card game.
That kind of game-changing power will draw interest from a number of clubs, the Texas Rangers believed to be among them, should he and the Blue Jays not end complete a deal.