Atkins: Smoak extension doesn't impact ability to sign Encarnacion

Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins attempted to make it abundantly clear that the signing of first baseman Justin Smoak to an extension in no way handcuffs the team moving forward.

"It has no impact on our ability to sign Edwin Encarnacion, or anyone else for that matter," Atkins told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.

Smoak agreed to a two-year, $8.25-million extension on Saturday, keeping the hulking switch-hitter in Toronto through the 2018 season. The 29-year-old has appeared exclusively at first base this season following an 80-game suspension to platoon partner Chris Colabello for performance-enhancing drugs. He's hitting .234/.333/.402 with nine home runs and 78 strikeouts.

The Blue Jays are on the verge of a highly important offseason with Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Michael Saunders, and R.A. Dickey among Toronto's most notable impending free agents. With Smoak locked up, the Blue Jays now have roughly $88 million guaranteed to six players for next season.

Encarnacion has already let the front office know that he will not be negotiating a new contract during the season and will move forward with his next contract during the winter.

The 33-year-old, who leads the majors with 80 RBIs, is expected to be heavily coveted and has already been pitched by retiring designated hitter David Ortiz to be his possible successor in Boston.

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Atkins: Smoak extension doesn't impact ability to sign Encarnacion
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