What Encarnacion Means to the Jays
Consistency has finally paid off for Edwin Encarnacion. The first baseman/designated hitter was locked down for the next three years today by the Toronto Blue Jays for $27 million with a one-year $10 million option at the end of the deal. This is a huge step up from the two-year $5.5-million deal he signed just a few years ago.
The questions that now remain are: Did he deserve the extension and is he worth the money?
Undoubtedly Encarnacion earned this extension for his recent play on the team. As a Blue Jays fan, I will be happy to see him staying in the Big Smoke. Edwin has been hitting a solid .295, complemented by 23 home runs and 58 RBIs; great numbers for a team that does not have a single .300 hitter on their squad. When the Blue Jays offence went dormant earlier in the season, Encarnacion was a consistent producer, oftentimes contributing the game winning run.
At the time Encarnacion was picked up I personally had some hesitation. While he was the crown jewel of a trade, the Jays had to give up Scott Rolen. I had always felt that Rolen had the star power that the Jays needed, and could break-out at any time. In hindsight, the trade worked out beautifully for Toronto. Rolen at the time was an under-performer (and still is, hitting .178) and commanding a salary similar to what Encarnacion is being awarded now. The added bonus to that trade is that the Blue Jays also received two solid pitching prospects in the process (Josh Roenicke and Zach Stewart).
The question that will linger in the minds of Jays fans is whether or not Encarnacion will be another Vernon Wells. The echo and lesson learned from the Wells deal still has a bad taste in the mouths of Blue Jays fans. Fans will still remember the seven-year $128 million contract that was signed by Wells some years back; Wells lost his swing after he signed his contract and never morphed into the perennial MVP candidate the Jays hoped for. Soon thereafter, Wells found himself gift-wrapped and shipped off to the Angels (where he is now batting .244 with 6 HR and 12 RBIs).
I do hope that Encarnancion can keep his swing and leadership presence intact. He is one of those types of guys who may find himself a franchise player in years to come. He may not have the same off-field presence as a guy like Vernon Wells (who was well-known for his charity work in Toronto), but he does inspire the team on the field – and right now, that is just what this Toronto Blue Jays need.
… and that is the last word.