The New York Yankees have already been linked to several free agents over the last month and with the team looking to add a slugger, there’s no shortage of names already mentioned in the rumor mill.
Carlos Beltran and Yoenis Cespedes have both been mentioned; Beltran makes the most sense considering he was a Yankee up until July and played extremely well when he was with the team and thrived when he served as the designated hitter.
This past week, eyes were opened when the Yankees were mentioned to being interested in Toronto Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion; one of the two big Blue Jays bats on the open market, the other being Jose Bautista.
The 33-year-old is coming off another tremendous season, hitting 42 home runs and a league-leading 127 RBI for the Blue Jays and had five straight seasons in which he had at least 34 home runs and 98 RBI. In four of his last five seasons, he had 100 or more RBI, so his bat would be a welcomed addition to the team.
He’d likely be an upgrade over Greg Bird, whose still developing and is on the rebound from his shoulder surgery that cost him all of the 2016 season. But here’s the thing, Encarnacion is not exactly a fit on this current Yankees team.
Encarnacion represents exactly what the Yankees are trying to get away from and have spent the last year doing so; signing long-term deals to veterans in their mid-30’s that eventually clog up the DH spot when they are older; think Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. Although in Teixeira’s case, he could still play first base by the end of his deal.
Up until a couple of years ago, Encarnacion was a duel threat as a first and third baseman, but Encarnacion hasn’t played third base in almost three years and has transitioned into a full-time first baseman and part-time DH. Once Josh Donaldson got acquired, Toronto had no need to ever put Encarnacion back at third, so at first base he remained and it’s now the position he’s grown accustomed to.
With Encarnacion turning 34 in January and looking for at least a five-year deal at $25 million per season, it’s the kind of deal the Yankees don’t want to hand out. 10 years ago, Encarnacion seems like the ideal target for the Yankees; a big home run hitter who would easily bring impact to the order.
But the Yankees aren’t operating under the old way of things. Heck, the Yankees have already started to undo their spending spree in the winter of 2013 by dealing away Brian McCann and also dealt away Beltran over the Summer. If they could, they’d ship Jacoby Ellsbury out of town quicker than you can blink, but his contract is as bad as it gets in baseball and one nobody wants to go near it.
Encarnacion has been linked to other teams with interest; the Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and the Blue Jays, plus the Yankees. Sure, the Yankees want to add bats to help their young lineup. But Encarnacion doesn’t make sense for them, as it would go against everything the Yankees have done since July.
Somebody like Beltran on a short-term deal for the DH spot makes much more sense. Encarnacion on a long-term deal doesn’t, and the Yankees should avoid trying to sign him to one at all costs and let another team take on that risk this off-season.