The number one player in free agency has been taken off the market, which puts the spotlight on Edwin Encarnacion as the next slugger to get signed, with or without a new CBA. It seems the Encarnacion is entertaining four different options, which include staying with the Toronto Blue Jays, while the Houston Astros, New York Yankees and Texas Rangers remain in the picture.

Edwin Encarnacion Free Agent

One team that’s out of the running, most likely, are the Boston Red Sox, who prefer signing a short-term DH. Encarnacion is looking for at least four years on his next deal, and the Red Sox are on the lookout for a cheaper, short-term solution. Perhaps Carlos Beltran, maybe someone else. But now that Cespedes has been signed (staying with the New York Mets, four years and $110 million), the one player holding up the market has been removed.

The Blue Jays have already made one offer to Encarnacion, but it probably fell well wide of the mark. Four years and $80 million? Doesn’t sound like something he would accept, especially when you hear his agent talking about five years and $125 million total. Encarnacion saw Cespedes getting $27.5 million a season and is looking for something not too far from that, even if he is pushing on 34. He’s been more productive than Cespedes on offense, hitting 42 home runs last season, and averaging 38.6 homers a season since 2012.

One surprising team on this list are the Astros, but they were reported to be quite close to giving Cespedes what he was looking for, which means it makes sense for them to go after Encarnacion with the same zest, showing they have the willingness to spend big in order to take their franchise to a new level of competitiveness. The Rangers don’t want to be caught up in such a spending big, but hope they can offer Encarnacion something a bit different, perhaps a team that seems to be missing just a little bit from serious World Series contention.

And the Yankees? They obviously have the money to spend, to outspend everyone else. But are they in that spot? When they feel their younger talent is good enough to be joined by high priced free agents? People are citing the Cubs as the perfect example of building with young players until they’re developed enough, then adding proven talent to create a World Series team. It worked for them, but the Yankees might not be in that position, not yet.

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