Indians sign Edwin Encarnacion to 3-Year, $60 million deal
The Cleveland Indians have made a splash and signed marquee free agent Edwin Encarnacion, who will turn 34 before the start of the season to a 3-Year, $60 million deal. The deal also includes a 4th-year club option for $20 million and a $5 million buyout if the option is not picked up.
The Indians, who were one game away from ending their 68-year Championship drought, after blowing a 3-1 lead and losing three consecutive games to the Chicago Cubs were coming into the offseason with little holes to fix as Mike Napoli, Rajai Davis and Coco Crisp were their main players set to become free agents.
Mike Napoli, 35, was their main target to retain as his offensive power and club leadership played a huge role into their success in 2016. But after a stellar season, Napoli was looking to bank on one last big contract, and is reportedly seeking a three year deal that the Indians weren’t comfortable handing to him. As negotiations between Napoli and the Indians stalled, the Tribe were intent on moving-on from the 11-year vet and looked to replace the power hitting first basemen who hit 34 homers and drove in 101 runs in 2016 for the Indians.
Enter Encarnacion, a three-time All Star who was arguably the top slugger on the open market, after batting .263, smashing 42 homers and driving in a career high 127 runs for the Blue Jays in 2016, playing 1B and DH. Encarnacion has been one of the most consistent offensive cogs in baseball for the Jays, as he has averaged 38.6 HRs, 110 RBIs and 29 Doubles over the past five season, including five consecutive seasons of 30+ home runs.
As the offseason progressed, Encarnacion saw his market deplete as several of his potential suitors took different routes (Boston Red Sox signed Mitch Moreland, Toronto Blue Jays signed Kendrys Morales and Steven Pearce, New York Yankees signed Matt Holiday, Houston Astros signed Carlos Beltran and traded for Brian McCann, and the Colorado Rockies signed Ian Desmond). The Indians took advantage of the market for Encarnacion, and swooped in with the three guaranteed years, and including a 4th year team option, that holds little risk for the Tribe.
With the addition of Encarnacion, the Tribe boast a dangerous squad that is filled with a starting rotation led by 2014 Cy Young winner Corey Kluber (3.14 ERA in ’16), young offensive stars Francisco Lindor (.301, 15 HR), Jose Ramirez (.312, 11 HR), Tyler Naquin (.296, 14 HR) and one of the best bullpens headlined by Andrew Miller (1.45 ERA, 12 SV). The Indians head into 2016 atop the AL Central and World Series favorites along with the Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals.
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