Sep. 18, 2016
Trying To Find A Fit For Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion
Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion have both been staples in the Blue Jays lineup over the last several years and both are now destined for free agency once the 2016 season ends. So the big question all year has been, will the Blue Jays sign either or both of the veteran sluggers?
Bautista has already made his contract demands clear all the way back in spring training(seeking five years/$150MM) saying he will not hold further negotiations until he hits free agency. He says he loves it in Toronto, but at the same time he is not hesitant to leave if he gets the type of contract he wants elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Edwin Encarnacion had held brief discussions with President Mark Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins before the season, but talks stopped once the season started. Encarnacion, like Bautista, wants to stay in Toronto, but understands that if Toronto doesn't make a good offer, he will seek another team to play for.
So, just what will happen with the pair of sluggers this offseason?
We've already heard of the popular landing spot that would have both signing in Boston after David Ortiz retires, but just how much would Boston want to pay Bautista, who is already 36 years old, and Encarnacion, who like Bautista, wants an AAV of at least $20-25MM?
There are obvious reasons as to why this would be a fit, but there are also clear reasons as to why this is not a fit. Boston already has plenty of offense, they are right at or near top in every offensive category in the majors. Position wise, Bautista would need to fit in a corner outfield role, which will be well occupied by long-term players such as Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Andrew Benintendi. Bautista has played 3rd base in his career, but with his age and the fact that he hasn't even played that position since 2010, along with the fact that the Red Sox are well stocked there as well, Bautista just simply doesn't have room on this roster. Perhaps there may be a fit at DH, but that might not happen if the Sox decide to move Hanley Ramirez there once David Ortiz retires.
As for Encarnacion, he would seem like a better fit than Bautista, due to the fact that his positions are 1st base and Designated Hitter, which he and Hanley Ramirez could play both roles, spelling each other at the positions.
Money wise, that wouldn't be as big of a deal for the big-market Red Sox, but once again, Encarnacion would seem the better fit than Bautista due to the fact that Bautista's asking price is enormous for a 36-year old who will now be coming off of an injury riddled season, which doesn't bode well for Bautista earning power wise.
As for other teams that could have interest in the sluggers, I could see the Rangers, Astros, Yankees, and Orioles as teams that would inquire on one or both players. However, there's plenty of reasons as to why each of those teams would have a very hard time making a fit happen for either of the two.
In the end, I look at it this way, Bautista could accept a qualifying offer from the Jays to rebuild more value next season in an effort to maximize his value to get the $25MM AAV he wants, although that comes with the fact that Bautista will fall well short of the aforementioned asking price he desires and he will be 37 years old at that point, so probably a wrong decision there. Or he can hit the open market and potentially lose out on some earnings in part due to his underwhelming season(mostly due to injury).
Contract Prediction: Four years, $82MM/Blue Jays
Encarnacion meanwhile, he will have tons of interest as he only continued cementing his free agent stick with his mammoth season this year, and there's still more to be played. The Blue Jays are going to end up letting him hit free agency but will have interest in retaining him.
Contract Prediction: Seven years, $161MM/Red Sox
So, what do you think? Have any thoughts or opinions on what you think will happen? Feel free to leave your comments below!