For most of Major League Baseball, this is the time to assess their goals in the offseason and who they’re planning to approach it. The Toronto Blue Jays have a big decision to make regarding Edwin Encarnacion, who’ll probably be getting serious attention from the Boston Red Sox and the Texas Rangers.
The soon to be 34-year old is a free agent at the end of the season, his 8th with the Blue Jays. He made the All-Star game for the third time in four years, matching his career high of 42 home runs and leading the American League with 127 RBIs. His batting average and OPS slightly dipped, but nothing too worrying, considering there were no injury problems as well, suiting up to play 160 times. He was quite productive in the postseason as well as the Blue Jays lost in the ALCS for the second consecutive season, hitting 3 home runs in 39 plate appearances, batting .286 and posting a .930 OPS.
The Blue Jays have a lot of offensive talent hitting free agency, not just Encarnacion. Jose Bautista is a free agent as well, but his production has fallen off drastically this season, which means Toronto won’t be offering him too much money compared to Encarnacion, and might be better off letting him go. Michael Saunders, another major offensive contributor (who the Blue Jays almost traded last offseason), is also a free agent.
Both the Red Sox and the Rangers will go after the first baseman, who split his time between DH and the infield this season. Both teams are losing some very productive hitters who don’t require any adjustments defensively: First base or DH, and Encarnacion, playing in the American League since 2009, will fit right in. He has hit 193 home runs over the last five seasons, batting .272 with a .912 OPS. Even if he isn’t getting any younger, his production is impossible to ignore.
What’s going to be the contract? He made $10 million over the last two seasons each year, and he’ll probably be looking for $80 million over four years. The market for big hitters and outfielders isn’t great this season, but I’m not sure he’ll be getting something like that, although desperate times call for desperate measures. The World Series and playoffs overall teach us time and time again that big hitters don’t equate to winning titles, but they don’t hurt either if you have deep pockets and a spot to fill in the lineup.