There’s been a bit of speculation concerning designated hitter Edwin Encarnación since he came over to the Mariners in a three-team trade earlier this month. While it initially looked as though the club might flip him at the 2019 trade deadline, growing interest might force a trade even earlier. Jon Morosi of MLB Network revealed that the Rays, White Sox, and Astros have recently “shifted their focus” to the veteran slugger, though nothing concrete appears to be settled just yet.
Encarnación, of course, played his best years in Toronto before inking a three-year, $60 million deal with the Indians in advance of the 2017 season. While he no longer hits career-high marks at the plate, the 35-year-old proved a strong contender in Cleveland and finished his most recent campaign batting .246/.336/.474 with 32 home runs, an .810 OPS, and 1.0 fWAR across 579 plate appearances in 2018.
Encarnación isn’t the only name being bandied about, however, and may not even be the most attractive option for teams looking to boost their DH options this winter. Morosi adds that the Rays, White Sox, and Astros are also rumored to be “involved” in talks for Cardinals infielder José Martínez, who will get edged out of his first base spot once Paul Goldschmidt takes over in 2019. Martínez, 30, slugged a robust .305/.364/.457 with 17 home runs, an .821 OPS, and 2.3 fWAR through 590 PA in 2018; perhaps more importantly, he’s still under team control through 2022, a definite plus compared to the $20 million due Encarnación in 2019 (to say nothing of the $25 million option and $5 million buyout he holds for the 2020 season).
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.