Edwin Encarnacion‘s agent, Paul Kinzer, told MLB Network Radio today that Encarnacion turned down a “(Yoenis) Cespedes-type” offer from the Athletics. As you know, Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60 million deal with the Indians. Cespedes signed a four-year, $110 million deal with the Mets.
Color me a bit skeptical that the A’s offer was literally that much bigger than the Indians’ deal, but the idea that Encarnacion turned down a bigger deal from Oakland than he accepted from the Indians is not hard to believe. The Indians are the defending AL champs, play in a more hitter-friendly park and have their core of excellent starting pitchers signed through 2019. If Encarnacion is like most players, especially most players in their 30s, a ring is his primary goal. Anything can happen in baseball, but there is no way anyone can claim that it’s more likely that the A’s will win a World Series in the next three years than the Indians will.
As far as other larger contracts, it’s been widely reported that Encarnacion was offered $80 million over four years from the Blue Jays. While not going to a new city and a team with competitive challenges on a higher offer makes some sense, whether Encarnacion made a mistake in bypassing that deal, with his most recent team, is a more interesting question. On the surface it’s easy to say “oh man, Edwin, you messed up,” but there are reports that Encarnacion and his agent did not like how the Jays handled the negotiation. Was it a misread of the market or bad blood? There’s a lot that goes into this stuff.
Either way, it’s safe to say that, even if Encarnacion could’ve made more money in Toronto or Oakland, he’s in a pretty good situation in Cleveland all things considered.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.