Will Jays ever get around to re-upping Encarnacion or is this farewell?
By Bob Elliott
NASHVILLE _ The all-star break is a time for major leaguers to visit home or go on vacation.
Yet, the 2012 break was stressful for Edwin Encarnacion as all-stars travelled to and returned from Kansas City.
Agent Paul Kinzer, Encarnacion and the Blue Jays were hammering out on a contract extension finally coming to terms on July 12, 2012 after the break.
“It wasn’t a pleasant experience,” said Kinzer Wednesday at the 114th winter meetings at the Opryland Hotel,
Encarnacion batted .231 with one homer, two RBIs and two strikeouts in his final four games before the break and .222 in the first three games when play resumed signing a three year-$29 million US deal with a $10 million option for 2016.
The Jays and Kinzer met Monday wanting to get a new deal before opening day 2016 or he will head for free agency in 2017.
Kinzer did not leave with an offer.
The next meeting is not planned.
Will we see Encarnacion walk his parrot in 2017?
“A multi-year deal is about sharing risks,” Shapiro told reporters. “You can you find that sweet spot where the player feels good about the risk he’s taking, giving up what could be out there in the open marketplace?
“The club has to assess risks existing for them — health, performance — other circumstances. It’s not about having one player. You have to be able to build a team.”
Now whether it is Jose Bautista or Encarnacion, both or one of each, the Jays are looking at a serious stare down which needs to be solved before spring training ... or then does it stretch to the July 31 trade deadline and one or both are put on the trade market?
“Why talk about during the season?” Kinzer said. “We aren’t trying to be jerks about this, but Edwin has been there more than four years now. It’s not a small market. When they signed Edwin, Alex Anthopoulos told us if Edwin does well we can work on an extension.
“We’ve had three years to work on it. Alex and I are firneds. He’s a grinder, he was relentless doing this last deal.”
Kinzer said he understands “all bets are off” with the change at the top -- president Paul Beeston and Anthopoulos are gone, replaced by the Cleveland Indians duo of pres Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins.
There is more than one reason for Kinzer’s cut-off date of opening date. Besides avoiding another annoying distraction, the agent said “we’re not going to sign at the break when we are three months from being able to talk to 29 other teams.”
George Bell and his agent Randal Hendricks did the same at the 1987 winter meetings. That winter Bell signed a three-year, $5.8-million deal.
It will cost the Jays more to lock up Encarnacion.
Over the years Kinzer of Douglasville, Ga., has visited Toronto often. As the agent for former No. 1 pick Alex Rios he noticed garb walking the streets. And he saw a change on his trip this August to see Encarnacion?
“Used to be wall to wall Maple Leafs jerseys,” said Kinzer, “not any more. Everyone was wearing Blue Jays jerseys and caps.”
And they wore the blue and white to the Rogers Centre to see Encanracion go deep.
There isn’t much difference between the three-year totals of Bautista and Encarnacion.
Encarnacion has hit .272, with 109 homers, 313 RBIs and a .912 OPS in 416 games.
Bautista batted .266, 103 homers, 290 RBIs and a .902 OPS in 426 games.
There are 115 days remaining until opening day at Tropicana Field.
“I can’t speak to deadlines,” Shapiro said. “We’re never going to close the door. We’ll be respectful of a player’s wishes, but we’re not going to be black and white. We may say, ‘Hey, is there an ability to revisit over the all-star break when you’re not playing?’
The long-running play began to unfold among the poinsettias, Christmas trees and decorations.
When it ends is anyone’s guess.