Cleveland Indians Get a Steal in Edwin Encarnacion
Over the last five seasons, there is only one player with at least 30 home runs in every season. And the Cleveland Indians just signed him for a song.
Former Toronto Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion was plucked off the free agent Christmas tree just before the weekend for the low-low price of $60 million over three years, with a $5 million buyout for a team option in 2020. To say this is a team-friendly deal is understating what transpired.
The Indians, who have the best starting pitching staff and two of the greatest late-inning relief pitchers in the game, just got one of the most productive run producers of the last half-decade for a minimal financial commitment. And, as a result, have a definitive edge on the American League Central heading into 2017.
The Chicago White Sox look a whole lot smarter for beginning their rebuild now, don't they?
Since 2012, only Chris Davis (197) has hit more long balls than Encarnacion's 193. He has a slash line of .272/.367/.544 over that stretch, averaging 39 homers and 110 RBI per season over the last five years. His 550 RBI are 2nd (behind only Miguel Cabrera), his isolated power (ISO) of .273 is 3rd, his .912 OPS ranks 6th, and his wRC+ of 146 is 7th.
And 2016 was another banner season for the 33-year-old right-hander. He hit .263/.357/.529 with 42 homers (tied for his career high) an AL-best 127 runs batted in, an OPS+ of 133, a wRC+ of 134 and an fWAR of 3.9.
He's a baller.
Even though they made it to the World Series without him last year, Encarnacion will be a huge boost to an offense that overachieved last season. He will split time with Carlos Santana as the team's DH/1B, and replaces the departing Mike Napoli, who also had a very good season last year. Napoli batted .239/.335/.465 with 34 home runs and 105 RBI, but has never been known as one of the game's great or consistent power hitters.
Encarnacion is a more reliable and consistent power threat for an Indians team that should also welcome back a fully healthy Michael Brantley in 2017. And, as hitter-friendly as the Rogers Centre in Toronto has traditionally been, last year it ranked 17th in homers per game (1.010), while Cleveland's Progressive Field ranked 5th (1.168).
At worst, the change in parks won't have any negative effect on his power, and could actually improve on it.
This was a terrific haul by the Indians, who are once again positioning themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the American League next season.