The New York Yankees announced today that they have declined their $20 million club option for 1B/DH Edwin Encarnación for next season. He gets a $5 million buyout and is now the newest member of the 2019-2020 free agent class.
The move is not a shocker. Encarnación, who turns 37 before the start of the 2020 season, missed most of the final two months of this season with an oblique injury. It wasn’t a bad season — he hit 34 home runs drove in 86 in only 109 games and posted a line of .244/.344/.531, splitting time between the Seattle Mariners and the Yankees, to whom he was traded in June. His age, defensive limitations and the fact that he did, after all, only play in 109 games no doubt went into the decision to cut ties.
The last few offseasons have been pretty brutal to defensively-limited sluggers in their 30s, so it’s unclear what kind of market he’ll have. Still, he profiles a relatively inexpensive power and there are a lot of American League teams who could use that, even in an age when power seems to be everywhere.
At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.
Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.
The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.
At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).