Yankees Sign Matt Holliday, Shrinking the Pool of Suitors for Edwin Encarnacion

Edwin Encarnacion
Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I think it would be great and fun as hell if the Blue Jays managed to keep Edwin Encarnacion after all, but I’m still not going to believe it’s actually happening until I see it. Teams simply don’t lock themselves into paying $40 million per season over three years for two aging DHs, which is what the Jays would be signing up for if they brought back EE — in addition to giving up the draft pick they’re due when he signs elsewhere, and taking on an expensive fourth year of that deal, in which he’ll be 37.

There is more optimism tonight that a reunion could still take place, however, than perhaps since the Morales deal was signed. That’s because the market for Edwin’s services continues to appear to shrink on him.

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The Yankees this evening have signed Matt Holliday to a one-year, $13 million deal. If they made a play for Encarnacion now, that would either mean finding room for Holliday in the field, or planning to put young Greg Bird on the bench, neither of which seem like realistic possibilities. Plus it would likely put them in danger of going over the new luxury tax threshold — something they do not seem to have much interest in doing.

The luxury tax threshold — along with the continuing existence of Pablo Sandoval — also seems to be behind Boston’s reluctance to go hard after Encarnacion, and the driving force behind reports like one today from Jon Heyman that they’re looking at Pablo Sandoval. The Red Sox have been over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, meaning that — per MLBTR — they’d be due a 40 to 50 per cent penalty if they went over a third straight year. Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes that the Sox will “probably” not be a finalist for EE. But I’ll only believe they’re out when I see it.

Ditto the Texas Rangers, who still would seem to have money to spend… though not a tonne. Cot’s has them at $120 million in commitments, plus another $15 million in projected salary for their arbitration eligible players. Add another $5 million for pre-arb players and that would leave them just $18 million short of the $158 million payroll they ran last season. It’s not impossible to think that it goes up enough to accommodate EE, but there have also been rumours of their bringing back Ian Desmond, which would probably be enough to take them out of the EE race. Maybe. And they have some other pieces to consider as well. Joey Gallo is probably ready to step into a 1B/DH spot for them, for example. Still, can’t rule them out. (And indeed, Jon Heyman tells us that the Rangers and the Jays are both still in on Edwin, along with a pair of NL teams who see him as a solution at first base.)

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You might not even count out the Astros just yet, as a team with Nori Aoki and Yuliesky Gurriel pencilled into the lineup in the outfield and at first base could find a way to get Edwin his at-bats, especially with Carlos Beltran theoretically capable of playing the field. But that’s a long shot.

And so are the Jays, I still believe. Ken Rosenthal noted tonight that the club’s original, four-year, $80 million offer to Edwin is off the table. That doesn’t mean it can’t be revisited, but obviously Morales changes things.

Still, splitting first base between Edwin and Kendrys sure sounds like a swell idea for 2017. If EE falls back into their laps, even if it means they don’t get back a draft pick, you’d sure like to see them do it for the here and now, assuming they’ll be able to figure something out with their two DHs down the line, if it becomes a problem.

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And shit, it’s not like they haven’t been playing with two DHs — Bautista and Encarnacion — the last couple of seasons anyway. And they found a way to make it work. So… sure. Let’s do this.

Or Fowler.

Or both.

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