DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Edwin Encarnacion is doing his best to remain optimistic that this will not be his final season with the Blue Jays and that instead he will be able to sign a long-term contract extension to remain with the organization.
Encarnacion spoke to the media on Friday morning for the first time this spring as the Blue Jays went through Day 1 of full-squad workouts. Toronto has yet to engage in serious contract talks with his agent, but Encarnacion is hopeful those discussions will take place "this week or next."
The veteran slugger made headlines during the offseason when his agent, Paul Kinzer, said Encarnacion would not negotiate a new deal after the start of the regular season. The reason is that the last time Encarnacion engaged in contract talks during the year he felt it became a major distraction and he doesn't want history to repeat itself.
"It happened last time, we're talking about that, so I don't want any negotiations during the season," said Encarnacion, who signed a three-year deal with a team option midway through 2012. "I want to concentrate to help this team to win games, I don't want to talk anything about contracts because I want to be 100 percent focused on my game."
Encarnacion, who didn't rule out re-signing with the club next offseason if a deal cannot be reached soon, turned out to be a major bargain on the contract that paid him $27 million from 2013-15 with another $10 million due this year. He hit at least 34 home runs during each of those seasons and established himself as one of the most reliable power hitters in the game.
A lot of that production came while Encarnacion dealt with a variety of injuries. He always seems to be battling some kind of issue, but the Dominican native typically finds a way to remain on the field. Last year, it was a nagging finger injury and a sports hernia that caused some problems, but he still managed to appear in 146 games.
Toronto has a number of issues that need to be taken care of, with the pending free agency of Encarnacion and Jose Bautista at the top of that list. Bautista became the early storyline of Spring Training when the six-time All-Star stated that he told the Blue Jays exactly what it would take to sign him and there was no room for negotiation.
Encarnacion was asked if he was taking a similar approach and would he provide the club with a number. A big smile appeared on his face as he said, "A number? Yeah, 40 homers." It was a stark contrast to the way his close friend handled things earlier in the week, but whether a new deal can be reached still remains uncertain.
"I want to stay on this team," said Encarnacion, who hit .277 with 39 home runs and 111 RBIs last year. "I love this team and I love the city, but it doesn't depend on me. It depends on what they think. I hope we get it done so I can stay here the rest of my career."