TORONTO -- The lengthy standoff between Edwin Encarnacion and the Blue Jays has resulted in the star slugger agreeing to a multi-year deal with the team that sent Toronto packing in the American League Championship Series.
Cleveland agreed with Encarnacion on a three-year deal worth $60 million on Thursday night, a source told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. According to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, the contract includes a team option for a fourth year at $20 million with a $5 million buyout. The Indians haven't confirmed the deal.
Toronto made a four-year offer worth approximately $80 million to Encarnacion earlier this offseason. The deal was not accepted during a specified timeframe and the Blue Jays pulled it off the table in favor of signing veteran slugger Kendrys Morales to a three-year deal.
News of Encarnacion's signing came one day after his agent Paul Kinzer went on Sportsnet 590 The Fan radio station in Toronto and admitted his client had come to the realization that he "probably won't be a Blue Jay." Kinzer maintainted that Encarnacion's top priority had been to remain with the Blue Jays, but he didn't want to rush into a signing at the beginning of the offseason.
Kinzer sounded like a man who was caught off-guard by how Toronto GM Ross Atkins and president Mark Shapiro operated this winter. He was surprised that the Blue Jays moved so quickly to sign Morales, which was the first real sign Toronto was going in another direction. Even after that move, Kinzer's first meeting of the recent Winter Meetings was supposed to be with the Blue Jays, but it was canceled after the club agreed to terms with Steve Pearce.
The insinuation seemed to be that the Blue Jays did not give Encarnacion enough time to explore his market before deciding on Toronto's offer. There might be some truth in that, but according to multiple sources the four-year offer remained on the table during the General Managers Meetings, which took place from Nov. 7-10 and coincided with the start of free agency.
Toronto's initial goal appears to have been getting Encarnacion to agree before he spoke with other teams, but ultimately the deadline was extended by several days to give him more time. Toward the end of the General Managers Meetings, the Blue Jays informed Kinzer and Encarnacion that if they did not accept the offer, it would be taken off the table and the club would talk to other players.
That turned out to be the beginning of the end. The Blue Jays and Kinzer remained in touch in the weeks that followed but never had serious contract discussions. The Blue Jays were content to move forward with Pearce platooning with Justin Smoak at first base and Morales taking over the everyday DH role.
Encarnacion's three-year deal with Cleveland will likely represent a bittersweet moment in the Dominican star's career. He made no secret of his desire to remain with the Blue Jays, but his side seemed to think the Blue Jays were bluffing about pulling their four-year offer from the table and it turned out they weren't.
The 33-year-old Encarnacion has no shortage of memories with the Blue Jays, but he'll be remembered most for his walk-off homer vs. Baltimore in the American League Wild Card Game. It was Encarnacion's signature moment in a Toronto uniform and it came on the heels of his fifth consecutive elite-level performance with the ballclub. He went from a player who had once been designated for assignment to one of the most consistent power hitters in the game, and along the way he helped transform the organization.
Encarnacion ranks third in Toronto franchise history with 239 homers, trailing only Carlos Delgado (336) and Jose Bautista (265). He also ranks sixth in RBIs (679), fifth in walks (477) and fourth in OPS (.878).
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.