Edwin is a Cleveland Indian… This sucks
Well this sucks.
My initial reaction to the news was one of doom and gloom. “Who are these clowns running the team?!” “Why doesn’t Edwin realize that no one will love him like Toronto?!” “NBA playoffs, MLB playoffs, MLB free agency. Can Cleveland not just leave me alone?!” “So much for the playoffs…”
In all seriousness I find it hard to blame either side in these negotiations. It essentially boils down to Edwin overestimating the market and assuming that the Jays would wait for his market to materialize.
Atkins and co. gave Edwin plenty of time to re-up and at the end of the day they offered him the most money with the longest term. While some may argue that they were in on Morales too early, if they waited for the DH market to solidify, they would have run the risk of losing their chair when the free agency music stops. The Morales signing was a fair contract that enabled them to sign another fair contract in Steve Pearce and allowed them to be competitive on Dexter Fowler.
Edwin on the other hand, was finally in a position to get PAID. After years of irrelevancy, E5’s and fan outcry, he repaid fans for their patience with years of dingers, parrots and hat tricks, all at a discount price. He had every right to maximize his value at age 33 and you are irrational to think otherwise. Unfortunately for Edwin, his value plummetted when the Yankees and Red Sox both withdrew themselves from the big-money DH market. This left notorious penny-pinching teams, such as the Indians and Oakland A’s, to drive his market.
There was a way that the Jays could have signed Pearce, Morales AND Encarnacion, but there were just too many hurdles to overcome. Hurdles which, quite frankly, the Atkins regime certainly helped create. For those three to coincide on a roster, you have to find another team willing to take on Justin Smoak and his $8.25 mil over the next two seasons, you have to start Steve Pearce as your everyday left fielder (or at least platoon with Upton) which is far from ideal, and accept that in two-to-three years time you may have a vastly overpaid and deteriorating first base-DH tandem (Morales and Encarnacion are two heavy 33 year-olds with injury history and a tonne of miles on the odometer).
I am quite frankly frightened by the idea of an Upton-Pillar-Carrera outfield, but by the same token don’t you think that the Blue Jays management feel the same way? They’re watching the same things that you’re watching and they are far smarter than any armchair GM. If they had closed on the Fowler deal, this off season would have a much different tone. As of right now, it feels as though a stagnate offseason has taken the Jays right out of the World Series conversation. But with a strict budget imposed on a team with cash-flushed ownership, with a payroll with huge commitments to over-30 players on the decline (exhibit A Troy Tulowitzki and exhibit B Russell Martin), and with very few high-minors prospects in the system to arm them for trades, this stagnation shouldn’t be as big of a shock as it is.
The optics of this whole deal just aren’t great, especially in an off-season that has been dominated by division rival Boston Red Sox. But with two AL Wild Card slots open I don’t see a reason why the Jays won’t be right in the mix with the Mariners, Rangers (overrated), Tigers (mediocre), Yankees (trash), and Orioles (traaaaash). The offseason is far from over and there are still some moves to be made that will solidify the team.
It is all too easy to be emotional and hate the Jays for not bringing Edwin back. It is also very easy to be very analytical and see that the Jays may have avoided a Ryan Howard-esque contract trap while replacing their slugger with this year’s versions of the David Price for Happ and Estrada salary swap. But that is almost the ultimate testament to Edwin whose big bat and contagious smile transcended analytics and emotion.
He was one of the few reasons to watch the Blue Jays when they were mired in mediocrity. My formative years as a Jays fan were spent cursing the losses, watching Doc dominate every fifth day, and watching Jose and Edwin crush dingers to the moon. It is very fitting that he and Joey Bats were right in the thick of things when the Jays finally became the class of the American League. At the end of the day, while I will always be a Jays fan first, I am still an Edwin Encarnacion fan. Thanks for your time Eddy.