Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes is reporting that the Cleveland Indians are engaged in trade talks during the winter meetings in Las Vegas that could see Edwin Encarnacion, Yonder Alonso, or Yandy Diaz shipped elsewhere as part of a three-team deal.
The appeal of trading Encarnacion is obvious. The 35-year-old part-time first baseman, part-time designated hitter will earn $20 million next season, with a club option for 2020 that includes a $5 million buyout. That is the highest salary on the Indians’ current roster and accounts for more than 20 percent of their current 2019 payroll. The veteran slugger is also coming off his worst season at the plate since 2011 — his first full season in Toronto — after slashing .246/.336/.474 in 2018. Even his 32 home runs last season were his lowest total since 2011.
Alonso is less expensive, guaranteed $8 million next season with a
vested vesting option worth $9 million in 2020. He was underwhelming in his debut season with the Tribe, and is expected to be worse defensively in 2019 and a marginal improvement at the plate, according to FanGraphs.
If the Indians were to deal Encarnacion, Alonso, or both in a three-team deal, I wouldn’t be surprised if the trade involved the Mariners and a potential reunion with Carlos Santana to fill that gaping hole at first base. The former Indians catcher, third baseman, first baseman, and designated hitter was traded by the Phillies to the Mariners this offseason, but the Seattle front office has made indications that he could be on the move again.
Santana’s pricetag is what makes a return to Cleveland unlikely, as he is owed $34.5 million over the next two seasons with a team option worth $17.5 million in 2021.
As for Diaz, I’d rather the Tribe keep him right where he is, especially since we’re 24 hours removed from Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti finally admitting what we’ve all been thinking: Diaz deserves a shot as an everyday third baseman. I’m hopeful he’ll get that shot in Cleveland, but we’ll see what the winter meetings have in store for Yandy.
The Indians’ last three-team trade came back in 2012, when the Tribe front office acquired Trevor Bauer, Bryan Shaw, and Matt Albers from Arizona in exchange for Lars Anderson and Tony Sipp. Cleveland also sent Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Donald, and cash to the Reds in exchange for Drew Stubbs. The Reds, in turn, sent Didi Gregorious to the Diamondbacks.
The more teams, the merrier, right?