The Cleveland Indians are reportedly checking around Edwin Encarnacion, according to Jeff Passan. Conventional wisdom would say that the 33-year-old first baseman is out of the Indians’ price range, but that doesn’t stop them from checking in on him.
Sources: Cleveland has checked in on Edwin Encarnacion. Perfect fit as RH power in LH-heavy lineup. Question is: Would they spend the money?— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 5, 2016
Let me emphasize something in Passan’s tweet, though: checked in. In the world of the Winter Meetings, where general managers from every team are within ear shot of each other, this could literally mean Chris Antonetti asked Edwin’s agent if he enjoyed Cleveland in November. Or it could mean they have offered him a contract worth dozens of millions of dollars — we really don’t know.
But it at least shows the Indians are not outright ignoring the idea of pursuing Encarnacion, who is the best-hitting free agent left on the market now that Yoenis Cespedes has re-signed with the New York Mets.
Encarnacion slashed .263/.357/.529 with the heavy-hitting Toronto Blue Jays last season, while also hitting a career-high 42 home runs. He struck out a lot more than usual, 19.7 percent, but he should still have two or three productive years left. He has not hit fewer than 34 home runs since he really came into his power-hitting form with the Blue Jays in 2011.
MLB Trade Rumors estimated at the start of free agency that Edwin would sign something around a four-year, $92 million deal. It would be a huge move for the Indians, and likely handcuff them for the remainder of this free agency, if not the next. But money aside, he is a perfect fit for a team that was one win away from winning it all last season.