Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My Thoughts on Edwin Encarnacion Heading to Cleveland

Another slugger off the board as the dominoes may finally begin to fall in the 2016/217 free agent offseason. The Cleveland Indians got probably the top slugger over the weekend and on a steep discount in my opinion as the team agreed to terms with Edwin Encarnacion on a three-year deal worth $65 million with a $25 million option for the fourth year. Now for a team like the Cleveland Indians that sounds like an absolute ton of money but when you remember what Encarnacion has done to American League pitching over the last few seasons he may be worth every penny, and more. Here are my thoughts on the signing.

The Toronto Blue Jays offered Encarnacion, reportedly anyway, a four-year deal worth $80 million at the beginning of free agency to keep him and the first baseman/ designated hitter rejected it in search of a $100 million contract on the open market. Obviously Encarnacion fell well short of that with this deal with Cleveland and honestly it’s not surprising to me. Encarnacion is so limited defensively that he should be advertised as a first basemen only, although he did play a lot of first base out of necessity last season in Toronto. Even with that said Encarnacion, who will be replacing Mike Napoli, is a huge upgrade for Cleveland at $100 million, the $65 million guaranteed to him or the $90 million he could receive if the team option is picked up on the right-hander.

The problem with Encarnacion though, and one of the reasons he likely didn’t get the contract he was searching for this winter, is that he will be 34-years old on Opening Day and is entering the 2017 season looking to cut down on a career high strikeout rate from 2016. Even with that Encarnacion is still a 4.0+ WAR type player year in and year out and while the Indians have to give up a draft pick to acquire Encarnacion the team is in a win-now mentality. With Encarnacion the team is an automatic favorite once again in the AL Central and in the American League for 2017.

The Indians reached the World Series in 2016 and took the Chicago Cubs to extra innings in Game 7 of the World Series. Now the team just got better. This makes the Blue Jays weaker, which helps, but it makes the Cleveland Indians much better. The Yankees weren’t getting him so I guess this is a good deal for New York, they see Cleveland much less in a season than they do the Blue Jays, so I call it a win. Congrats to Cleveland and to Encarnacion. 

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