Two big decisions the Toronto Blue Jays will have to make in the offseason: Offering new contracts, or not, to Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.
Right now, it looks like the Blue Jays are more interested in showing the love, and money, to Encarnacion. They’ve made attempts to begin negotiations during the season, but Encarnacion is in no rush to have his agent sit down with the team. He prefer to focus on the season, and then handle the business when it’s done. There are different versions of the attempts before the season; of whether or not the Blue Jays tried to lowball Encarnacion in the winter and if they even want him back. They probably do, but we’ll only know in four-five months.
Things are a bit more complicated for Bautista, 36, and three years older than Encarnacion. His numbers are slipping, his defense is eroding, and he’s probably looking for more money than Encarnacion. Some have speculated that Bautista wants $150 million over five seasons, and the Blue Jays won’t go higher than the deal Yoenis Cespedes got from the New York Mets ($75 million three years with opt outs), but that might be even too high for Bautista.
It won’t be surprising if it comes down to one or the other. Encarnacion, 33, is playing mostly at DH, and does well at first base when he’s there. He’s batting .267 with a .898 OPS. After a slow start to the season, he’s pretty close to the numbers of the last four years, meanwhile batting 23 home runs and a major league best 80 RBIs. He’s making $10 million this season.
Bautista is making $14 million, and it looks like the right fielder is closer and closer to being moved to first base or DH, as his defense keeps slipping. He didn’t make the All-Star game after six consecutive seasons (Encarnacion did, for the third time), and his numbers are way down, batting just .230 with 12 home runs, 40 RBIs and a .815 OPS, his worse since 2009.
Maybe Bautista picks things up, and things look very different by the time we get to November and the Winter. But right now, if it comes down to a choice between the two of them, there’s only one way to go. Even if it’s not between them both and only Bautista is available, his money demands make it an easy choice: Don’t re-sign him.