The Edwin Encarnacion era in Toronto appears to be over. The Toronto Blue Jays reportedly agreed to a deal with his replacement Friday, inking designated hitter Kendrys Morales to a three-year, $33 million deal, according to multiple reports.
With the move, Morales becomes the first major free-agent off the board this winter. While he wasn’t one of the elite names available, Morales ranked 22nd on Jeff Passan’s free-agent trade tracker. The 33-year-old is coming off a season in which he hit .263/.327/.468, with 30 home runs, over 618 plate appearances for the Kansas City Royals.
The move makes sense. Morales should slot right into Encarnacion’s old role as the club’s DH. He’ll hit in the middle of the Blue Jays’ order, and should provide plenty of power, especially in that small park.
Morales won’t fully replace Encarnacion’s production, but he will come at a fraction of the price. The Blue Jays were negotiating with Encarnacion prior to reaching a deal with Morales, but his agent said the team’s offer was not in line with what Encarnacion was hoping.
Though just a few months older than Morales, Encarnacion is said to be seeking a deal in excess of $100 million. He’s also looking for more than three years on his next contract. Given his production over the past couple seasons, a number of teams will easily meet those demands.
Not the Blue Jays, though. With both Encarnacion and Jose Bautista on the market, there was a strong chance Toronto could be in for some huge changes during the offseason. After Friday’s signing, that appears to be the case.
With that said, signing Morales is a win-now move. The team may lose two significant parts this offseason, but it appears Toronto will still attempt to contend in the tough American League East. Morales looks to be the first piece in Toronto’s revamped offense.
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