The offseason has not gone as expected for slugger Edwin Encarnacion. At the start of things, he figured to earn a long-term contract approaching $100 million in total salary, as many considered him to be the second best offensive player available behind Yoenis Cespedes, who signed for $110 million over four years. However, that has not happened, as multiple teams filled their need for a first baseman-DH type player with Encarnacion still on the board.
In a way, that has actually opened up his options, bringing small-market teams into contention for him. There’s more than half a dozen teams that could conceivably land Encarnacion. Let’s take a look at every team’s odds of ending up with Encarnacion when all is said and done.
Athletics – 15%
There have been rumors in recent days that the A’s were jumping into the Encarnacion sweepstakes. Oakland rarely spends money on big-name free agents, but Encarnacion’s price may have dropped enough for them to make a competitive bid. The A’s also have a protected draft pick, a factor that could give them a legitimate shot at getting him.
Blue Jays – 10%
A return to Toronto does not appear to be likely, as the Blue Jays already have Steve Pearce, Kendrys Morales, and Justin Smoak to handle first base and the DH spot, but you can never completely discount a homecoming. His agent has insinuated in the past that Encarnacion would like to go someplace comfortable and not necessarily go to the highest bidder, keeping the door open for the Blue Jays. If Encarnacion really wants to stay in Toronto, the Blue Jays will make room for him.
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Cardinals – 10%
Even after signing Dexter Fowler, there was talk that the Cardinals could pursue another high-priced free agent. Signing Encarnacion could allow the Cardinals to slide Matt Carpenter over to third base, which is something they’d like to do is possible. While it’s not ideal to have Encarnacion playing first base every day, the Cardinals may figure they have to do something big to catch up with the Cubs.
Indinas – 15%
The Indians are reportedly making offers to all of the big sluggers still on the board, hoping one of them will accept a modest offer from them to fill the role that Mike Napoli had on the team last season. How much Cleveland is willing to spend remains unclear, but Encarnacion would fit with the Indians, who are already in good position to be World Series contenders in 2017.
Mariners – 5%
There’s not a ton of room for Encarnacion in Seattle unless the Mariners want to move Nelson Cruz to the outfield, but this is a club that’s been active this offseason, so it’s tough to count them out entirely. If his value drops enough, the Mariners may go ahead and take the plunge by trying to sign Encarnacion.
Marlins – 5%
Miami didn’t spend over $80 million on a high-priced closer, and so theoretically they have money to spend. With Justin Bour currently at first base, the Marlins could give Encarnacion enough rest while still creating a power-hungry middle of the order with him and Giancarlo Stanton. A National League team is always going to be an unlikely destination for Encarnacion, but the Marlins may be just crazy enough to make such a bold move.
Orioles – 15%
Baltimore has pulled an offer for Mark Trumbo, and so the Orioles may be looking at their other options. If Encarnacion were willing to accept the kind of four-year deal the Orioles made to Trumbo, there’s a real chance he could go to Baltimore, a move that could sway the balance in the AL East.
Rangers – 15%
Texas GM Jon Daniels keeps saying that his team isn’t going after a high-priced free agent this winter, but at what point does the price for Encarnacion drop enough for Daniels to find room in the budget? Keep in mind that the Rangers are in win-now mode, and it’s not like they have perfect clarity at first base. Regardless of what Daniels says, the Rangers are very much in the running for Encarnacion.
Rockies – 5%
If Colorado thinks they can trade an outfielder, Encarnacion becomes an option for the Rockies, even after signing Ian Desmond with the belief that he’ll play first base. Of course, do the Rockies need more offense, or are they better off trying to add another reliever or two? It’s a question worth pondering, but don’t be surprised if the Rockies make a legitimate effort for Encarnacion.
The Field – 5%
To be fair, there aren’t a lot of teams outside this list that make any sense at all, but you never know if there’s a mystery team out there capable of swooping in at the last second. It seems unlikely in this case, but nothing about Encarnacion has gone according to plan this offseason, and so nearly every team has to be considered an option.