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Miami Marlins: Could they become a sleeper for Edwin Encarnacion?


December 9, 2016

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This MLB offseason surely has not disappointed to this point. With the conclusion of the Winter Meetings, there are plenty of talking points as we move into the rest of the winter. Over the course of the Winter Meetings, Chris Sale changed his Sox, the Washington Nationals traded an arm and a leg for Adam Eaton, and Aroldis Chapman returned to the Bronx.

In regards to Chapman, the lanky lefty who can throw hard than anyone in baseball, inked a five year deal worth 86 million dollars. But that was reportedly the highest offer, as the Miami Marlins are believed to have offered five years and 87 million bucks. Unfortunately for the Fish, Chapman past to return to New York.

But Chapman has not been the only big name closer the team has been linked to this winter. Kenley Jansen is out there still, and the team reportedly has an offer out to him very close to the one they offered Chapman. But the team has competition, as the Washington Nationals are in the bidding as well. The Los Angeles Dodgers are not expected to match the high offers of these clubs, but you can simply never ruled them out.

Now it is clear, the team is willing to hand out some serious cash for a big name reliever, even though they have A.J. Ramos to close out ballgames. Now that brings up the question, what will the team do if they miss out on Kenley? Most likely they will sign another reliever for the back end of the pen with closer experience to go with Ramos, unless they trade him, but at a much cheaper cost. The team has been linked to Neftali Feliz, so that is a possibility.

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But such a deal would be so much cheaper compared to Kenley. So what will the Marlins do with all that money? Obviously they are willing to spend, but the question remains, are they only willing to spend for relief help? Or might they be willing to shift that money to a slugging first baseman who’s market seems to be crashing, resulting in a much cheaper deal than most predicted at the start of the offseason. I am of course referring to Edwin Encarnacion.

As things stand right now, Justin Bour is slated to man first base for Miami in 2017. While he is a decent option, there is no denying Edwin’s power would be appealing for the team if the price is right. The soon to be 34 year old is coming off a season where he hit 42 home runs, and slugged .529. However, his market has not developed as expected, in large part to two key teams bowing out of the race in a sense.

His former club, the Toronto Blue Jays made a quick move to bring in Kendrys Morales. Then at the start of the Winter Meetings, they signed Steve Pearce. Now technically he could still fit into the roster, but the space is a lot tighter. The other team that was considered one of the favorites to land his services, the Boston Red Sox, have shown they had different plans. They made their big move by acquiring Sale, and then later that day signed Mitch Moreland to DH, after showing virtually no signs of wanting Edwin.

So that leaves Encarnacion with a much slimmer market. To this point, there are two clubs mainly associated with his name: The Texas Rangers, and the Cleveland Indians. For Texas, he would certainly fit right into their lineup, but the team is believed to have limited flexibility from a payroll perspective. The team has gotten clever in the past to work around such constraints, but it is not clear they would do so for someone in his mid 30’s. As for the Indians, they do not appear willing to pay top dollar either.

So essentially the two are at a standstill, trying to wait out the market in hopes Edwin comes to them on an extremely discounted deal. That is where the Marlins can come into play. While his market is down, they can surely get him at a nice price, but still offer him more than the other teams mentioned. He would immediately slide into first base, as well as the middle of the order.

One downside is the team plays in the NL, meaning he would not get the DH games like he did in Toronto. But he is still very much capable of handling defensive duties, having played 75 games at first last year. So if things break a certain way, it is certainly not out of the realm of possibilities that Encarnacion could wind up wearing a Marlins uniform and hitting back to back with Giancarlo Stanton.

Of course this will likely mean Kenley Jansen goes elsewhere. But what do you think? Could Edwin be playing in Miami in 2017? Tell us in the comments!

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