Jays sign Encarnacion to three-year, $27M extension

Blue Jays Edwin Encarnacion is safe sliding into home past Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador...

Blue Jays Edwin Encarnacion is safe sliding into home past Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez during the fifth inning of their MLB American League baseball game in Toronto, July 3, 2012. (Mark Blinch/REUTERS)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:19 PM ET

TORONTO - It was a rewarding day if you happened to be Edwin Encarnacion.

The 29-year-old first baseman/DH didn’t make it to the all-star game but on Thursday he struck it rich by signing a three-year, $27-million contract extension that also gives the Jays a club option of $10 million for the 2016 season.

On a day when the Jays returned to the Rogers Centre for an optional workout prior to a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians, the Encarnacion deal was the big event of the day.

The Jays also announced that a new pitcher would be arriving in time for Friday’s opening game but it was not a snazzy veteran starting pitcher that general manager Alex Anthopoulos had snagged in a trade.

Rather, it was the announcement that rookie lefty Aaron Loup would be arriving from double-A New Hampshire to take the place of Luis Perez, who is lost for the rest of the season because of a ligament tear in his elbow.

So, as another mainstay of the pitching staff goes down with an injury, the Jays are forced to add unproven talent from the minor leagues.

Is that a smile on manager John Farrell’s face or a grimace?

The day before his team was routed in the all-star game, Jose Bautista issued a call to arms.

The message to Anthopoulos was a simple one — we need pitching, NOW!!!

It’s really a no-brainer. If the Jays intend to become a contender in the second half they simply must beef up their pitching staff.

Everybody talks about the need for adding a starter or two.

As it stands now the Jays rotation consists of Ricky Romero, Aaron Laffey, Carlos Villanueva, Henderson Alvarez and Brett Cecil. It is not the most solid foundation from which to build upon.

Even if Anthopoulos accomplishes the main goal between now and the July 31 deadline and lands a couple of solid starters, the Jays pitching needs are far from over.

The problem for the Jays is that as shaky as the rotation appears, the bullpen is even a bigger mess.

Due to the inconsistencies and uncertainties that reside in the rotation, the Jays have been forced to go with an eight-man bullpen.

The dilemma facing Farrell on a daily basis is that from that total, there are just three relievers that he can trust to get the job done — veteran right-hander Jason Frasor, left-hander Darren Oliver and closer Casey Janssen, who has been a perfect 12-for-12 in save situations since inheriting the job from the injured Sergio Santos. That’s it.

The rest are a roll of the dice.

Of the remaining five relievers, two are untested rookies, Loup and Sam Dyson.

Of the rest, right-hander Jesse Chavez is a failed starter who has yet to radiate confidence while Drew Carpenter has made just one appearance since being called up from Las Vegas. Then there is Francisco Cordero who appears to have hit the end of the line. He is either good or terrible with no in-between. Farrell never knows what he is going to get when he calls his name.

“When you bring in new people, this is a different environment, particularly when guys have never experienced it,” Farrell said of the new additions to the front end of his bullpen. “How they respond to it, that’s what we’ve got to try to get a sense of in a short period of time. That response to the major league environment and challenge may be inconsistent at times, so, you know, with new players come some growing pains and we’ve got to do what we can in the short run to get a feel for what their capabilities are without overusing the three guys (Frasor, Oliver and Janssen). It’s an on-going balance.”

As for the luxury of late-inning matchups, forget it.

“The matchups become a little bit secondary,” Farrell said.

It’s a dreadful predicament for a manager to find himself in, especially when you now have a starting staff that has not shown a capability to consistently go deep into games.

“What it comes down to is if our starters aren’t going deep, the middle innings are where we’ve had a problem,” Anthopoulos admitted. “If your starters aren’t going deep in the game you’re going to have problems no matter what.”

Pitching problems, not solutions, are what the Jays have these days.

That plus a happy camper in Encarnacion.

EDWIN WANTED TO STAY

Edwin Encarnacion was all smiles Thursday afternoon.

The Blue Jays first baseman/DH said that the decision to sign now with the Jays and forego free agency in the off-season was an easy call for him to make.

“I’m really happy, I feel great and I’m very happy to continue to be part of this organization for the next three years,” Encarnacion said. “I wanted to stay here in Toronto. I love playing here and that’s why I signed to stay here.

“I love this country, I love Toronto and I love the fans.”

It was a rocky first couple of years for Encarnacion as a Blue Jay but with his success this season, he has become a fan favourite.

“The last two years I’ve been doing a lot better,” Encarnacion said. “I’ve been healthy. When I start doing good, I see the difference with the fans. They love me. They want me to continue to keep doing what I’m doing. That’s why I decided to stay here.”


Videos

Photos