WHILE IT’S TEMPTING TO BLAME BLUE JAYS BRASS FOR EDWIN’S DEPARTURE, THERE IS ONLY ONE MAN TO DIRECT ALL RAGE TOWARDS.
By now, everyone is already aware that the forever-hanging Sword of Damocles has finally fallen and severed Edwin Encarnacion‘s ties with the Toronto Blue Jays. On Thursday night, Jon Heyman broke the news that the proprietor of the parrot was packed up and parading off to…Cleveland.
Indians win Encarnacion. 3 plus an option.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 23, 2016
After hearing this, Blue Jays fans went through the five stages of grief rather quickly. From denial to anger to bargaining to depression to acceptance, the reaction was consistent. The 6ix, and all around it, were sad to see Edwin go, but could see it coming from a mile away. Still, the direction the blame was aimed depended on which group a person found themselves in. Some blamed Edwin for being greedy:
If Edwin Encarnacion wanted to stay in Toronto, he would have signed & put his money where his mouth is – very disappointed #bluejays
— Matt Eichel (@PEbyMrE) December 23, 2016
— doug E. jokes (@dougEjokes) December 23, 2016
While others blamed Rogers, and by extension Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins, for letting their most popular slugger walk out the door.
— Michael Lim (@MichaelLim24) December 23, 2016
— Jason L (@JasonL2087) December 23, 2016
The truth of the matter is, while both parties are to blame for the glacial split that occurred between Edwin and the Blue Jays, only one party can be blamed for not acting in good faith or in self-preservation with the moves made, and he’s the man getting paid $6M for a debauchery of a negotiation.
That’s right, Blue Jays fans. Paul Kinzer is the one who severed this relationship. He’s why both parties are worse off than they were two months ago. He’s why Cleveland is somehow in a much better position.
Let’s break down the timeline. In Spring Training last year, Edwin said he wanted to re-sign, but did not want to negotiate through the season. Blue Jays brass says fine, but they don’t want to commit to a player who just suffered an oblique injury in spring training. So they take a wait and see approach.
Everyone saw Edwin go off. 42 home runs, AL leader in RBIs, another All-Star nod.
So the Blue Jays are willing to commit for four years. $20M a year. Not Albert Pujols money, but still very good. Edwin wanted to stay in Toronto, which is natural since it’s the place where he’s had the most success in his career. The front office wanted to lock their big bat up at a reasonable price.
Paul Kinzer saw dollar signs and wasn’t going to be swayed.
A quick look at Kinzer’s management website, Rep 1 Baseball, shows the kind of talent the Georgia resident deals with. Rafael Furcal is still on that top-tier list, as is Matt Capps, Geovany Soto and Alex Rios. Encarnacion was his biggest client, and best chance for a payday. $80M wasn’t going to cut it.
So he told Edwin to walk away and shop, figuring nine digit contracts were on the table from other teams. Boston would want a David Ortiz replacement. The Yankees would want to bounce back immediately. Texas would want to fill Prince Fielder‘s spot. Houston had money to spend.
Except none of those ideas made sense at the start of the off-season, and they still don’t.
Boston has Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval for their designated hitter duties. The Yankees are still rebuilding (I know, right?) and don’t want to offer term for a 34-year-old slugger. Texas needs to save money to pay for that new stadium they suddenly need and are cutting payroll. Houston had Alex Bregman for first and were never going to pay $100M for a DH, despite what White Sox writers thought.
Even if Kinzer knew all this heading into the off-season and decided he could still bluff it anyway to try and get $100M from the Blue Jays, he only had to look at what happened last year to know that was a bad idea. David Price was a nine-figure player, but they let the Blue Jays have first crack at him.
Toronto is not a Phil Hellmuth, bluff and push everything into the pot team. They are not even at the poker table. They are at the blackjack table, trying to count cards and get out before the casino catches them.
Except instead of waiting, Kinzer’s cavalier attitude forced them to bail early. Hence Kendrys Morales is welcomed to Toronto instead. As the market played out and guys like Chris Carter got cut despite hitting 40 HRs, it became clear that both parties were hurt by the decision to walk.
The Blue Jays had to focus on replacing the hole in the middle of their line-up first so Morales and Steve Pearce were the primary targets of the club. Meanwhile, Toronto’s true need, the bullpen, was left wanting and even mid-level talents are getting paid to the tune of $6M a year. (That affords you one Paul Kinzer!) Now there is no left-hander in the back end outside of Aaron Loup, and that’s the really scary scenario for Toronto. Sending Loup out to face Chris Davis.
As for the player, Aroldis Chapman couldn’t get $100M this off-season, so there was no chance Encarnacion was going to get it. Kinzer watched as older, cheaper options got picked up first and switched into scramble mode. As he admitted to the FAN’s Jeff Blair two days ago, the initial four year offer was long gone, “but we’ll come out of it OK.” That’s why he had to scramble to get Cleveland to throw a fourth year option on the end of the contract to potentially make it $80M, to try and save face. But that’s as likely to be picked up as a torn-up scratch ticket in a puddle of mud. No team is paying $20M for a 38-year-old DH unless they still hit like Ortiz.
In the end, Kinzer cost his client a sure $15M, and he forced the Blue Jays into a situation where they paid half price for a player a quarter as good as Edwin, according to ESPN’s Keith Law. He forced a player out of his comfort zone and back to a state where he played so well the first time, he was an obligatory throw-in in a trade with Josh Roenicke.
Kinzer told the FAN that the Blue Jays made a mistake signing Kendrys Morales so quickly. It’s true they might have, but it’s a mistake that could have been totally avoided had Kinzer known who he was dealing with, and how the market appeared. As he said on the radio:
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) December 21, 2016
Your business was self-destructive, Mr. Kinzer. Hence why I, and many other Blue Jays fans, are mad at you. So when Encarnacion likely moves on from your services, we’ll say, “Guess that was just business.”
*FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: JAMES G UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Andrews has been immersed in sports from a young age, since they could read Jr. Jays comics that filtered into the backwoods of Northern Nova Scotia. The Canadian has been blogging about sports since high school, writing on FOX Sports.com’s blogs as well on the Tailpipe Sports blog. The 20-something has been with Jays From the Couch since its humble beginnings, and continues to contribute while forging a career in the sports journalism industry. Andrews brings a discerning eye, a smoking keyboard, and a brain that made Jeopardy! briefly rethink letting Canadians onto their program.