FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi wrote earlier today that free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton “is on the Orioles’ list of targets” this offseason. And he will apparently have another unexpected suitor.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Mariners “look like a possible new entry” in the Hamilton sweepstakes. Something that M’s GM Jack Zduriencik did not completely deny:
“If the right bat’s available, we’re going to have to talk about it,” said Jack Z. “We’re going to have several discussions with agents. We have to be flexible.”
Hamilton would play left field in Seattle while adding power to a lineup that desperately needs it. But the Mariners haven’t spent big on many free agents and Hamilton is seeking more than $100 million.
The 31-year-old slugger has registered a remarkable .304/.363/.549 batting line since the start of the 2007 season. He hit .285/.354/.577 with 43 home runs and 128 RBI in 2012 for the second-place Rangers.
“Some or most of the Hamilton market may not surface for a while,” Heyman notes in his report.
The Mariners are in the midst of reconstructing their roster, a process which most recently resulted in the trade of first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnación to the Yankees, per a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan. While the teams have yet to publicly confirm the deal, the Mariners are expected to receive pitching prospect Juan Then and will likely eat a significant portion of Encarnación’s salary as well.
Encarnación is a sizable get for the Yankees, who could benefit from the veteran’s power and consistency in their ongoing drive toward the postseason. The 36-year-old infielder missed some time with a bout of lower back tightness, dental issues, and soreness in his left hand, but has still maintained a decent .241/.356/.531 batting line with an AL-best 21 home runs, an .888 OPS, and 1.7 fWAR through his first 289 plate appearances of the year. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Encarnación has another $11-12 million left on his contract in 2019, with a $20 million option for the 2020 season and a $5 million buyout.
Then, 19, was acquired by the Yankees in a three-person trade with the Mariners during the 2017 offseason. The right-hander currently ranks no. 27 in the Yankees’ system and made his last pro ball appearance for New York’s rookie-level affiliate in 2018, pitching to a 2.70 ERA, 2.0 BB/9, and 7.6 SO/9 across 50 innings. It’s not clear if any other players are involved in the trade, though USA Today’s Bob Nightengale notes that no other prospects are thought to be included in the package for Encarnación.