The stories this week about Edwin Encarnacion were mostly about how much money he wasn’t going to get. And maybe he won’t.       

Encarnacion’s market “cratered,” to use the word Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports worked into a tweet Wednesday. And maybe it did.

But unless you’re Encarnacion’s agent or banker or a family member, none of that should be a big concern. We can analyze later, when the final numbers are in, whether Encarnacion and his advisers badly misread the market when they turned down four years and $80 million from the Toronto Blue Jays, as Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported.

Right now, Encarnacion represents something else. He represents opportunity for the many American League teams trying to deal with the loaded Boston Red Sox and for the National League teams still trying to catch up with the Chicago Cubs.

He represents a potential game-changer, because consistent run producers like him aren’t supposed to sit there on the market waiting forever for teams to realize how much they need them. The market this winter has been overloaded with players who can fill an Encarnacion-like role (Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, Jay Bruce, etc.), but there’s only one guy out there who has driven in 97-plus runs each of the last five seasons.

Encarnacion is the guy, and even if you’re down on the value of RBI as a stat, it’s hard not to value what Encarnacion has done.’s offensive WAR credits him with 22.8 wins over those same five years, 11th in the major leagues and tops among all players who have moved or are likely to move this winter (assuming the Pittsburgh Pirates are now serious about keeping Andrew McCutchen).

So maybe Encarnacion really is an “unlikely” option for the Texas Rangers, as general manager Jon Daniels suggested to reporters, including T.R. Sullivan of Maybe it really would take “a multimillion dollar miracle” to send Encarnacion back to the Blue Jays, as Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun wrote after listening to Jays general manager Ross Atkins.

“If there’s a way, I don’t see it,” Atkins said.

Some team is going to find a way—that’s for certain. And none of us should be surprised if the team that eventually finds a way ends up playing well into October next year.

The Cleveland Indians seem to understand that, given their reported interest in Encarnacion this week, as Paul Hoynes wrote for The Indians have never been among baseball’s big spenders, but when they took advantage of a soft market to sign Mike Napoli for $7 million last winter, they were rewarded with a big season and ultimately a trip to the World Series.

Napoli is a free agent again. Given how much the Indians like him, he could well return. But Encarnacion is a clear step up, and an Indians team that painfully lost the World Series has every reason to look for upgrades.

The same goes for the St. Louis Cardinals. They don’t have the long championship drought the Indians do, but their first playoff-less October since 2010 had to be made more painful by watching the rival Cubs celebrate.

The Cardinals reacted Friday by signing Dexter Fowler, one of the Cubs’ stars. The Cubs were unbothered enough by that news to thank Fowler on Twitter (before going back to plugging their trophy tour):

The reaction from Chicago might not be as positive if the Cardinals follow up by signing Encarnacion, which Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggested as a possibility. Fowler gives the Cards a needed spark atop the lineup, but Encarnacion would give them the type of muscle that could actually threaten the Cubs’ intended dynasty.

Then there are the teams that called an Encarnacion signing “unlikely” or said they “don’t see” a way.

As Tim Cowlishaw wrote in the Dallas Morning News, the Rangers haven’t yet made up for the offense they lost when Beltran, Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland all departed. As Richard Griffin wrote in the Toronto Star, the Blue Jays don’t have a real replacement for Encarnacion or Jose Bautista.

If the Encarnacion market really is cratering, Griffin wrote, “the Jays should do everything in their power to make it happen.”

After all, when this winter began, plenty of us saw Edwin Encarnacion as a potential difference-maker. No matter what may have changed about his market, nothing has changed about the impact he could make on whichever team lands him.        


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Danny on Twitter and talk baseball.

Read more MLB news on