The Toronto Blue Jays might have a strong case for trading Edwin Encarnacion.
Encarnacion, arguably the Jays’ best overall hitter, will be a free agent next year, and can be a good piece of bait for a team that could use a few good prospects in the pitching department.
The Jays expected to contend this year but they sit 8.5 games back of the division leading Yankees and 2.5 games back of the Wild Card leading Angels and Orioles, with nearly the first half of play in the books.
Encarnacion is right near his career prime at age 29 and is on-pace to set career highs in every statistical category. He averaged 13 homeruns in his nine previous seasons, but has hit 22 (second-highest on the team) through only 76 games so far this season. He leads the Blue Jays in batting average too, hitting .291.
While playing as the team’s designated hitter and first baseman, Edwin Encarnacion ranks amongst the top 10 in the American League in most offensive stats, including slugging percentage – a culmination of power and batting average- where he ranks fifth. If he keeps it up, Encarncaion should be amongst M.V.P talks.
At some point before the July 31 trade deadline, the Jays will have to ask themselves if they’re buyers or sellers. As it stands right now, they should probably trade a short-term player for future gains, because a playoff spot doesn’t seem likely. A typical club needs at least 90 to 95 wins to make the playoffs, and the Jays are on pace to finish with about 80.
To call this a breakout season would be an understatement for the right-handed Dominican. But most will say that he’s only turned his game around because this is his contract year, meaning be wants to impress teams looking at the free agency market.
The Jays may very well end up doing anything with him. If the team is contending, Encarnacion is a key piece of the puzzle batting in the clean-up hole. But a lot of teams can use a big bat like Edwin’s: the N.L. wild card-leading L.A. Dodger’s are without their top hitter, Matt Kemp, and the N.L West-leading San Fransisco Giants have a lackluster offense.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports believes a number of teams would be interested in Encarnacion. But the Jays’ asking price would be pretty high. It would probably include the Texas Rangers’ budding shortstop Jurickson Profar, Yankees’ pitcher Manny Banuelos or Cardinals’ righty Shelby Miller.
If a team thinks that it can truly contend, even if they’re power heavy like the New York Yankees, they’ll go out and get that chess piece. There is always a market for hitting.
Other players on the Blue Jays trading list will include short-term fix players like Darren Oliver, Kelly Johnson, and Rajai Davis. They can add immediate impact wherever they go, and the Blue Jays don’t really need these players moving forward. Johnson can slug but can’t hit, Davis is one dimensional (speed), and Darren Oliver is just too old.
There’s no doubt that there will be teams looking for a solid bad like that of Edwin’s. He’s a ferocious hitter who can drive a baseball into the gap or knock one out of the ball park with his tomahawk swing. Any team looking to make the playoffs would ooze for a player like him, and the Jays can surely capitalize on this opportunity by selling high and buying low- but buying high in potential, at a time when they think they may actually contend.