TUESDAY: There isn’t currently much momentum between Encarnacion and the Indians, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. Crasnick writes that Encarnacion hopes to receive a longer and more lucrative contract than the Indians are willing to offer.
MONDAY: The Indians are discussing a multi-year contract with slugger Edwin Encarnacion, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Cleveland’s interest in Encarnacion was first reported earlier today, and it appears as though the Tribe has more than just a cursory interest — talks are “serious,” Hoynes writes, though there’s no indication that the two sides are close to any sort of agreement.
With Mike Napoli a free agent, the Tribe have been connected to several first basemen this offseason, though Encarnacion (the top first base option on the market) was widely considered to be beyond Cleveland’s financial reach. When asked if this was the case, however, Indians director of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said “you don’t have to curb expectations. We are being exhaustive in exploring options to improve our position player club.”
A source tells Hoynes that the Tribe’s run to Game 7 of the World Series may have generated as much as $48MM in extra revenue for the club, which could provide Antonetti and company with some unexpected payroll flexibility. It could be something of a perfect storm for Cleveland, as the team’s extra money coincides with a possible downturn in Encarnacion’s market — potential suitors like the Blue Jays, Astros, Yankees have acquired other players, while the Red Sox and Rangers have both shown only lukewarm interest.
The draft pick compensation tied to Encarnacion (due to his rejection of the Jays’ qualifying offer) has also reportedly factored into his relatively quiet market, and giving up the 27th overall pick of the 2017 draft to sign Encarnacion is surely a major consideration for the Indians as well. The loss of a first-rounder is even a bigger hurdle for a smaller-market team like Cleveland that relies on cost-effective young talent, and the Tribe already dealt several top prospects for Andrew Miller at last July’s deadline.
In a projected lineup, Encarnacion would split the first base/DH duties with Carlos Santana. Michael Brantley’s status could also be of note here, as after missing almost all of 2016 with shoulder and biceps injuries, Brantley’s ability to play the outfield next year could be somewhat in question.