I think the Jays’ management team needs to realize that it would be very difficult to replace someone of his talent and should make his re-signing their main focus.
Yes, I know I wrote a similar column about Encarnacion in August. But as a fan, it has been frustrating to watch, as on any given day he could be snatched up by a competitor. There have been rumours, this off-season, about rivals such as the New York Yankees showing considerable interest in him.
Now, to their credit, neither side has closed the door on a possible return, according to multiple news outlets, despite the recent signing of Kendrys Morales. But this is a player, in my opinion, the Jays truly need, to remain competitive in the tough American League East division.
Encarnacion finished the season first on the team in home runs with 42 and second on the Jays in hits with 158. He also had 3 home runs and 10 hits in this year’s playoffs.
As well, he is third on the franchise’s all time home run list, behind Jose Bautista and Carlos Delgado.
I don’t think it is just his stats alone though, why fans want him to return. Encarnacion also brings an infectious attitude to the team. From the famous “Edwing” celebration, he does when he rounds the bases, to the swagger he brings to the diamond at each game, Encarnacion has become a fan favourite.
The Jays lost one of those fan favourite types last year in Munenori Kawasaki, after he signed with the Cubs, and with a fan base like the Blue Jays have now, they can’t afford to lose another.
The Jays, in my opinion, will likely lose Jose Bautista to free agency, and have already lost pitcher Brett Cecil to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Blue Jays’ management needs to show fans they can still bring back one of the pieces that helped the team go all the way to the ALCS, again this season. This year’s playoffs saw fans fill the Rogers Centre again, as the hope of a possible World Series win was abundant. The franchise can’t afford to lose that momentum now, and in my opinion losing Encarnacion will not resonate well with the Toronto fanbase.
General Manager Ross Atkins needs to get this deal done soon, before another star ends up saying goodbye to Toronto.