Edwin Encarnacion has been a key member of the Toronto Blue Jays for the last seven-and-a-half seasons, but with the 33-year-old in the final year of his deal, he could be playing elsewhere in 2017.

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Latest on Blue Jays’ Plans for Encarnacion Extension

Monday, Oct. 24

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins made it clear Monday that Toronto will make a strong effort to re-sign Encarnacion, telling reporters that retaining him and fellow slugger Jose Bautista is a priority, per TSN’s Scott MacArthur.

At the very least, the Blue Jays will extend Encarnacion a qualifying offer, according to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi.

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported Oct. 13 that the qualifying offer will be worth $17.2 million this offseason. Encarnacion would be a near-certainty to turn it down. Since he’s one of the best hitters available, he’ll be in a position to command much more on the open market.

The three-time All-Star said last Wednesday that the Blue Jays are his preferred destination:

It will be interesting, though, to see how team president Mark Shapiro chooses to handle both Bautista and Encarnacion.

During his days with the Cleveland Indians, Shapiro often shied away from signing aging veterans to pricey extensions, opting instead to invest in his younger players.

Last October, TSN’s Rick Westhead also reported Shapiro questioned Alex Anthopoulos’ decision to trade the Blue Jays’ best prospects in order to acquire David Price and Troy Tulowitzki. Anthopoulos ultimately decided against signing an extension with Toronto last year.

Encarnacion has been consistent the last five years—averaging just over 38 home runs and 110 runs batted in per season. At his age, though, the first baseman/designated hitter will soon begin to decline.

Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols are both cautionary tales for why it’s risky to pay significantly for sluggers who are into their 30s, no matter how impressive their track records are.

If Shapiro’s focus is on the long term, he and Atkins—who came over from the Indians as well—may have a definite ceiling for what they’re willing to offer Encarnacion.

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