Major League Baseball free agency is officially open. One of the most coveted players this off-season will be Edwin Encarnacion, who has played the last seven and a half seasons North of the border with the Toronto Blue Jays, blossoming into one of the game’s premier power hitters.
The Jays would love to have Encarnacion back, obviously, and extended him a qualifying offer this week. However, that is just a customary tactic, because Edwin will sign a deal worth much more than the one-year, $17.2 million that is the qualifying offer. A recent report out of Toronto suggested that Encarnacion is looking for a five-year deal in the range of $125 million, but it’s unclear if Toronto is willing to pony up that kind of cash.
If the 33-year-old slugger does end up in a new uniform next season, it could be in Boston, after his agent made a point of saying how much he likes playing in Fenway Park. He also mentioned that Encarnacion really appreciated being named as a potential successor by David Ortiz, a Red Sox legend who just played his final season.
“It definitely intrigued him,” said Paul Kinzer, Encarnacion’s agent, at the general managers’ meeting, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. “He and David are close, and that meant a lot to him when David did that.
“He loves Boston,” Kinzer continued. “You look at his highlights from last year, I think five of his home runs were hit there. He loves to hit there. The atmosphere … That’s always one of his favorite road games.”
While the Red Sox have been traditionally willing to break the bank to land the players they want (see: David Price), general manager Dave Dombrowski said it wasn’t necessarily as simple as offering a blank check. Trying to replace a player like Ortiz is never easy.
“I’m not sure if we’re going to do it internally with a lot of the people we have or go outside the organization,” Dombrowski said, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. “We know we can never replace (Ortiz’s) presence. But we have a lot of guys who can play different positions. We have young guys coming that we like a great deal, so we’ll just kind of have to wait to see what happens there.
“There are a lot of different factors. One is affordability, but not only that. How long do you want to tie somebody up for that position when we have a lot of young players coming? That’s a very important part of it.”