The latest on some notable names on the open market…
- A “perfect storm” of both a qualifying offer and the uncertainty around the new collective bargaining agreement has led to Edwin Encarnacion’s extended stay on the open market, agent Paul Kinzer tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post. When asked if Encarnacion could pursue a contract like Yoenis Cespedes’ deal with the Mets last winter (a big first-year salary but with the ability to opt out after the first season), Kinzer said “that can happen with a team not picking with a premium draft pick,” i.e. a team with a protected top-10 draft pick. Most of the teams with protected picks are either rebuilding or have entrenched first basemen, though the Athletics have reportedly offered Encarnacion a contract. The Rays also stand out to me as possible candidates for a creative deal. The Rockies already gave up their first-rounder to sign Ian Desmond, and thus would “only” be surrendering a second-rounder if they were to land Encarnacion. Kinzer further discussed Encarnacion’s market in other interviews yesterday.
- With Encarnacion’s market somewhat in flux, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal wonders if some teams could end up kicking themselves for not making a push to land the slugger while he may be available at a lesser-than-expected price. Teams that are still looking for value in a rather busy first base market could find themselves saving money but missing out on an established star who could help a club win the World Series.
- The market for first baseman Chris Carter seems to be held up by Encarnacion’s status, Carter’s agent Dave Stewart tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter links). “We’ve had calls from multiple teams, but no real commitment,” says Stewart, who has returned to his agency work after losing his seat as the Diamondbacks GM. The Encarnacion-driven delay has probably also impacted other free-agent sluggers, though it may have particularly concerned Cater, who is also a right-handed hitter limited to first base and DH duties. Carter hit the open market when the Brewers non-tendered him, both in spite of and because of his 41 long balls in 2016 — which drove his expected arbitration price tag to upwards of $8MM.
- Half a dozen teams are currently pursuing veteran righty Trevor Cahill, Crasnick adds (Twitter links). Three of those organizations (none of which are named) view the 28-year-old as a potential rotation option, which is said to be his preference. Though he hasn’t seen regular work as a starter since 2014, Cahill has taken the hill to open a big league game 174 times and performed well as a member of the Cubs bullpen following his mid-2015 acquisition. Over 82 2/3 IP across 61 appearances with Chicago, Cahill put up a 2.61 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9. Though he continues to pile up strong groundball numbers, he is prone to allowing home runs when opposing hitters put the ball in the air.