The Cleveland Indians decided to deliver the fan base an early Christmas present.
MLB’s Jon Heyman was the first to report the news
Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan provided the contract details
The soon to be 34 year old slugger hit the open market seeking a five year deal worth around 25 million dollars per year. He turned down a four year deal worth 80 million dollars from his former team, the Toronto Blue Jays.
When the teams hit the Winter Meetings earlier this month, the Indians weren’t looked at as a team in the running. As the meetings progressed, the rumors started swirling rapidly that the Indians were seriously pursuing Encarnacion along with other power hitters like Mark Trumbo and Jose Bautista.
After the meetings ended, the talks about Encarnacion died down but earlier this week they ramped back up when his agent told Jon Heyman that five teams were still pursuing him. Heyman reported Wednesday night that the Indians were “pulling out all the stops” to get him.
Last season, Encarnacion hit .263 with 42 home runs and 127 runs batted in. The 12 year veteran has hit at least 34 home runs every year since the 2012 season and has 310 career home runs as well as a career batting average of .266.
The Encarnacion deal is the biggest contract the Indians have given out in franchise history. The previous largest deal was the four year, 56 million dollar deal they gave to Nick Swisher in 2013. Many questioned whether or not the Indians had the money to afford the slugger’s services.
The Indians added John Sherman as a minority owner late in the regular season and with the added revenue from the team’s postseason run to Game 7 of the World Series helped create more flexibility to the team’s payroll.
Getting Encarnacion adds more firepower to the already dangerous Indians lineup. If Michael Brantley comes back at full strength, this lineup will have:
- Francisco Lindor
- Jason Kipnis
- Carlos Santana
- Michael Brantley
- Edwin Encarnacion
- Jose Ramirez
- Lonnie Chisenhall
- Yan Gomes/Roberto Perez
- Tyler Naquin
Despite the Boston Red Sox adding Chris Sale to their tough pitching rotation, adding Encarnacion makes the Indians the favorites to win the American League heading into 2017. With Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar also returning from injuries, this team has the potential to be the best roster Cleveland has produced since the 1990s.
As for Mike Napoli who’s a free agent, I’d expect him to not return now that his spot has been filled. Teams will pursue him because the teams that were pursuing Encarnacion were looking for a power hitter like Napoli. The Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, Colorado Rockies all could use Napoli’s services and I’m sure he’ll land in a great destination.
What he provided for this ball club in 2016 won’t be forgotten. His towering home runs were memorable and the “Party At Napoli’s” slogan was a great one which produced the t-shirts that helped raise money for the children’s hospital in Cleveland.
Just one more thing…..
Rest in Peace to the “Dolanz Cheap” hashtag that circulated on Twitter the last several years. That narrative can no longer be used.