In July, Major League Baseball hired former player Billy Bean as the first Ambassador for Inclusion. His job: to work with major and minor league clubs to encourage equal opportunity in accordance with the joint MLB-MLBPA Workplace Code of Conduct, which itself was designed to make baseball more welcoming and inclusive of the LGBT community and to help put an end to sexism, homophobia and prejudice within the world of baseball.
“Ambassador of Inclusion” is not the most conventional title. Indeed, it’s one which, if you’re wearing your cynical cap, you might take as some sort of tokenism. A “Look! We hired a gay former player! Can’t get on our case!” kind of thing.
As Ken Rosenthal reports today, however, it wasn’t that at all. Rosenthal writes about how Major League Baseball came to the conclusion that it needed to be proactive in this arena and that hiring Billy Bean was the right guy for the job. It’s a good read, and I heartily recommend it.
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.