8:53pm: Texas has been in touch with Encarnacion’s reps to gauge his price, but it’s not known if the team has made an offer, Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweets.
8:48pm: It has been a while since we’ve checked in on the market for Edwin Encarnacion, the best free agent who remains on the market (as ranked by MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes). Here’s the latest chatter on the veteran.
Though there’s a great match on paper, the Indians seemingly remain uninterested in going beyond their typical comfort zone for Encarnacion, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. While the concept of a higher-AAV, three-year deal with an opt-out after the first season has been floated, that may be a non-starter — though it’s fair to note that the organization has given reasonably significant guarantees out in free agency before (Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn). And while it appears reasonable to think that Cleveland might bite with a big number for a single season only — if Encarnacion is reduced to seeking such an arrangement — Rosenthal suggests that the team may be loath to part with a draft pick to add him for just one year.
Meanwhile, the Athletics are “at least considering” an attempt to sign the free-agent slugger, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag. Importantly, though, it’s not entirely clear whether the A’s are positioning themselves to catch Encarnacion if his market collapses, or whether they’d put together a significant, multi-year offer. Though Oakland has options at first base and designated hitter — it avoided arbitration with Yonder Alonso and could platoon him with Mark Canha, and could feature Stephen Vogt at DH — those assignments aren’t exactly etched in stone, and there’s little question the team could stand to add some thump.
Perhaps the most obvious remaining landing spot for Encarnacion on a sizable deal would be the Rangers, but GM Jon Daniels dumped yet another sizable bucket of ice water on that idea, as MLB.com’s TR Sullivan writes. Texas is “highly unlikely” to move on the best remaining free agent, said GM Jon Daniels. While other outside targets are still being weighed, the executive suggests that the first-base position is still most likely to be filled from within.
All said, it’s increasingly difficult to see where Encarnacion will land a major contract. The Blue Jays were said to have offered $80MM over four years, but took that off the table — though they are said to be maintaining contact. As Rosenthal recently explained, though they may give the idea some thought, the Cardinals may not make a ton of sense, particularly since they play in the National League and have already said they’ll utilize Matt Carpenter at first. And it remains to be seen whether any other suitors — such as the Rockies or (speculatively) the Orioles or Red Sox — may ultimately emerge in full pursuit.
Of course, as agent Paul Kinzer recently noted, there’s no denying that Encarnacion offers a massive bat that isn’t otherwise available (at least, not via free agency). He’s certainly a good enough hitter that it would not be entirely surprising to a see a team re-arrange other aspects of its roster to create a fit. The Encarnacion camp’s declared willingness to be patient may be tested, but a sizable contract can’t be ruled out at this point by any stretch.