My vacation from baseball was rudely interrupted by a tweet pointing to a post by Ian over at The Blue Jay Hunter, which, in turn, points to Jerry Crasnick's "MLB Most Interesting People in 2016" column at ESPN that had this juicy nugget buried in the part where he named Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion the 10th and 11th most interesting persons in Major League Baseball (emphasis mine):
"But much of the attention in Toronto will focus on Bautista and Encarnacion, who combined for 79 homers and 225 RBIs and helped scare the daylights out of visiting pitchers at Rogers Centre in 2015. Both sluggers are eligible for free agency in November, and their hazy futures will be an inevitable piece of the narrative this summer in Toronto. The buzz is already building that one of the two will eventually land in Boston as Ortiz's DH heir at Fenway."
Reading this while half awake (and perhaps half intoxicated), I had thought that Crasnick was reporting that Bautista and Encarnacion were likely going to sign with the Red Sox should Mark Shapiro's regime not be able to secure contract extensions with them this offseason. For most of that day I couldn't stop thinking of all the fun adventures Jose, Eddie, and David Price would have in Boston next year (thus the birth of the image accompanying this article).
Although it is definitely not what Crasnick reported, can you imagine what would happen if the 2017 Blue Jays Home Opener saw John Farrell's Red Sox visiting the Rogers Centre with Price, Bautista, and Encarnacion on the lineup card? Before that game hits the fifth inning all the stadium's beer will be on the field, Ted Rogers' statue would be toppled, and Mark Shapiro would be negotiating his terms of his exile to Algeria.
Of course, this type of imagery is exactly the type of reaction I would like to provoke from a fanbase if I were an agent and I'd like to put a little extra pressure on a club to re-sign my client. Crasnick's buzz was not the first time we heard of the possibility of Encarnacion going to Boston. As Ian astutely points out in his post, in early December Rob Bradford at WEEI already reported that there was "significant mutual interest" between Encarnacion's people and the Red Sox's people.
Indeed, this would be the rumour I, as an agent, would poke Toronto fans with, knowing that they already have a disdain for Mark Shapiro and the Rogers ownership on top of their hatred for Boston since the betrayal of John Farrell. Whisper a few things to a few people, have it leak out so tweeters will tweet and bloggers will blog, and have it lead to massive fan panic making it uncomfortable for the Blue Jays front office to not act.
So you know what? Let's not panic. Let's remember that there are many months until the spring training deadline Encarnacion has reportedly set for any extension negotiations. And even if it doesn't happen at that point, it still doesn't mean that he is actually interested in Boston. But if he is, and he brings Bautista with him, I'd probably choose to skip the first time the Red Sox visit in 2017, for my personal safety's sake.