Of the five contract extensions that the Toronto Blue Jays have handed out while Alex Anthopoulos was the team’s general manager, all five include at least one club option. Since the beginning of his tenure as GM, Anthopoulos has made seven signings in which the salary agreed upon was above the league minimum. Five of those seven contracts include at least one club option.

You might see a pattern developing here. The general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays likes options.

So, it makes sense that third baseman/first baseman/designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, whose, you guessed it, club option for 2012 was picked up on Monday, would be asked to add to his positional arsenal (likely too strong of a term given his oft cited defensive shortcomings at third base) by playing left field in Winter Ball.

According to Anthopoulos:

We’re trying to make him more flexible from a positional standpoint just because it gives us more options in the offseason. But obviously if we were to break today with who we have on the current roster, he’d get the majority of his at-bats at the DH spot. But who knows what the next few months are going to bring, trades, free agent signings, things like that. The more positional flexibility that he has, it gives John (Farrell) more options and it certainly gives myself and our baseball operations team more options in putting the roster together.

In our ongoing quest to figure out some semblance of the Toronto Blue Jays’ overarching strategy, embracing as many options as possible seems to be the most visible, whether it’s positionally or contractually. And with the state of flux that the baseball world constantly finds itself in, I don’t mind that one bit.

While religious observance of the policy might not mean a whole lot of long term contracts being handed out, the flexibility that it creates partners up well with the sustained success buzz term we’ve heard being used by both Anthopoulos and Team President Paul Beeston. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to us when we learn that the Blue Jays aren’t going to be offering players six or seven year contract, eliminating the team from the races to sign players like Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and C.J. Wilson this off season.

But don’t think of that as a bad thing. Fans would do well to remember that a lack of money and years being committed to on the free agent market isn’t synonymous with a lack of commitment to the fans themselves. If anything it represents a deeper commitment that extends beyond a philosophy that leads to one year on followed by one year off, in favour of an outcome that will hopefully consistently deliver the sought after results.

Comments (5)

  1. I don’t think the lack of desire to hand out 6-8 year deals takes the Jays out of the race to sign a guy like Fielder. If Fielder can get, for example, an 8-year $160 million contract ($20 mil/year) somewhere, the Jays might decide to offer something like 5 years for $112.5 ($22.5 mil per year). Obviously there’s less guaranteed money there but Fielder is still young and would still have the potential to sign another good contract later on. It’s probably just wishful thinking but the Jays’ ability to offer more per year on a shorter contract could be attractive to some free agents out there.

    Here’s another thought, based on some of the rumours out there that the Jays would be interested in David Ortiz (and the suggestion that the Jays went out of that sweepstakes when they picked up Edwin’s option). If you consider that there are about 1400-1500 plate appearances to go around over 162 games for the 1B and DH spots, and 1458 innings of 1st base to be played, you could do a lot worse than have the trio of Lind, Edwin and Ortiz cover that amount of playing time. Lind is so god-awful against lefties that Edwin could sub in and they can sort of platoon first, and Ortiz can be given enough rest so as not to break down near the end of the year. Who knows, could work out.

    • I think in general higher cost at shorter terms is preferable for the team, but a realistic Fielder isn’t going to leave $50 million over three years on the table right at the time that his decline will be in full effect.

  2. Could this lead the way to a platoon of EE and Ortiz at DH, and EE/Thames in LF, thus offering Snider up as trade material to get a big name SP?

    Just throwing it out there.

  3. I think Ortiz or any other Frank Thomas-like one dimensional player is a mistake, and goes againt the “option/flexibility” thing. Especially since Ortiz is about to begin a sharp, steady decline.

    • Yeah, the only way I like Ortiz is if the Red Sox sign someone else and he’s available for less than $10 million. But at that point, the Red Sox probably signed someone better so what’s the point of even spending that much to finish in third place at best?

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