JOIN­ING THE CLUB

Ed­win En­car­na­cion is about to be­come part of an ex­clu­sive group of earn­ers at first base,

Toronto Star - - SPORTS - MOR­GAN CAMP­BELL SPORTS RE­PORTER

Pub­lished re­ports have free agent first base­man/DH Ed­win En­car­na­cion seek­ing a con­tract that will pay him $125 mil­lion over five years. If the Jays, or some other team, agree to it, the 34-year-old En­car­na­cion will join seven other first base­men earn­ing $20 mil­lion or more per sea­son. Five of the seven will be 33 or older on open­ing day.

Miguel Cabrera, Tigers Con­tract: Eight years, $240 mil­lion through 2023 2017 salary: $28 mil­lion Age on open­ing day 2017: 33 2016 num­bers: .316/.393/.563, 38 HR, 108 RBI

Out­look: Cabrera made his 11th all­star team in 2016, and re­mains as pro­duc­tive as any first base­man in the ma­jors. His .956 OPS ranked third among first base­men, while he was sec­ond in av­er­age and home runs.

Joe Mauer, Twins Con­tract: Eight years, $184 mil­lion through 2018 2017 salary: $23 mil­lion Age on open­ing day: 33 2016 num­bers: .261/.363/.389, 11 HR, 49 RBI

Out­look: Mauer’s salary re­flects a con­tract he signed at the tail end of his late 2000s prime. Be­tween 2006 and 2009 he won three bat­ting ti­tles and an MVP award. The catcher-turned-first base­man hasn’t hit .300 since 2013, and his 11 homers were 33rd among first base­man.

Han­ley Ramirez, Red Sox Con­tract: Four years, $88 mil­lion through 2018 2017 salary: $22.75 mil­lion Age on open­ing day: 33 2016 num­bers: .286/.361/.505, 30 HR, 111 RBI

Out­look: There was much spec­u­la­tion in 2016 that En­car­na­cion could re­place the re­tir­ing David Or­tiz. That sce­nario could com­pli­cate life for Ramirez, who spent last sea­son at first base. But Ramirez can ad­just. He made three all-star teams as a Mar­lins short­stop, and spent most of 2015 in left field.

Adrian Gon­za­lez, Dodgers Con­tract: Seven years, $154 mil­lion through 2018 2017 salary: $21.86 mil­lion Age on open­ing day: 34 2016 num­bers: .285/.349/.435, 18 HR, 90 RBI

Out­look: Gon­za­lez boasts a long list of ac­co­lades — five all-star ap­pear­ances, two sil­ver slug­gers, four gold gloves. And he has played at least 155 games in each of the last four sea­sons. But there are signs of de­cline, with ca­reer lows in slug­ging per­cent­age and OPS last year.

Joey Votto, Reds Con­tract: 10 years, $225 mil­lion through 2023 2017 salary: $22 mil­lion Age on open­ing day: 33 2016 num­bers: .326/.434./550, 29 HR, 97 RBI

Out­look: The Etobicoke na­tive re­mains among the games’s most con­sis­tent hit­ters. His .434 on-base per­cent­age led the ma­jors and his bat­ting av­er­age and slug­ging per­cent­age out­paced his ca­reer av­er­ages. Will he be this pro­duc­tive at 39? Prob­a­bly not, but think of that salary as de­ferred pay­ment for his peak years.

Chris Davis, Ori­oles Con­tract: Seven years, $161 mil­lion, through 2022 2017 salary: $21.12 mil­lion Age on open­ing day: 31 2016 num­bers: .221/332/.459, 38 HR, 84 RBI

Out­look: Davis couldn’t cash in on his first break­out sea­son (53 HR,138 RBI in 2013) be­cause he was still un­der con­tract. But his new deal re­flects a ma­jor-league-lead­ing 47-homer sea­son in 2015. Can he sus­tain that pro­duc­tion? Davis’s strike­out to­tals have climbed steadily, top­ping out at 219 last sea­son.

Fred­die Free­man, Braves Con­tract: Eight years, $135 mil­lion through 2021 2017 salary: $20.9 mil­lion Age on open­ing day: 27 2016 num­bers: .302/. 400/.569, 34 HR, 91 RBI

Out­look: This two-time all-star set ca­reer-highs in on-base per­cent­age, slug­ging and OPS (.968). Free­man is the only mem­ber of this group young enough to re­al­is­ti­cally ex­pect im­prove­ment and he might still be in his prime years when his cur­rent con­tract ex­pires.

AL BEHRMAN/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Cincin­nati’s ever-con­sis­tent Joey Votto led the ma­jors with a .434 on-base per­cent­age in 2016. The Etobicoke na­tive will make $25 mil­lion at age 39.

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