The Mariners acquired DH Edwin Encarnación as part of a three-team trade that involved the Indians and Rays back in December. The Indians received Jake Bauers and Carlos Santana, the Rays got Yandy Diaz and minor leaguer Cole Sulser, and the Mariners got Encarnación, cash, and a 2019 competitive balance pick.
After winning 89 games last season, the Mariners held a fire sale, trading James Paxton to the Yankees; Alex Colomé to the White Sox; Robinson Canó and Edwin Díaz to the Mets; and Jean Segura, Juan Nicasio, and James Pazos to the Phillies. According to Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times, Encarnación could be next. The club informed him of its intention to move him after bringing him to Seattle and it seems that is still the case.
Encarnación, 36, has one year remaining on his contract at $20 million along with a 2020 club option worth $20 million with a $5 million buyout. Last season with the Indians, he hit .246/.336/.474 with 32 home runs and 107 RBI in 579 plate appearances. The Mariners could pounce on an opportunity if a 1B/DH type on another team suffers an injury during spring training.
Until the Mariners do move Encarnación, he will be the main DH and occasional first baseman with Jay Bruce, Ryon Healy, Domingo Santana, and Dan Vogelbach backing up at those positions. GM Jerry DiPoto said, “Edwin Encarnación is proven productivity. He’s gonna play on a regular basis and hopefully be a staple in that lineup that we can grow around.”
DiPoto added, “And with Vogey and Ryon Healy, both of them are still young players with a chance to grow and move forward. It will be a challenge to see how we can balance the at-bats. But there will be a rotation that we use. As we get into the season, we’ll figure out what that is.
One thing that I’ve learned over three decades in baseball is that while you think you may have depth in a certain area, it often doesn’t work out that way. We’ll let spring training — and as we move toward the regular season — tell us a story about the best way to use our player.”