Free agent Edwin Encarnacion is headed to Cleveland, on a three-year contract for a reported $65 million with an option for a fourth season.
The slugging designated hitter-slash-first baseman (though his poor defense stretches the definition of the latter) watched his market thin out over the past several weeks, as teams snatched up cheaper alternatives such as Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday. He’s spent all winter going back and forth with the Toronto Blue Jays, who have been his team since 2009, and reportedly turned down a four-year, $80 million offer from them in November to explore other options.
The option he most wanted to explore was apparently Cleveland, who should be happy to take on Encarnacion’s power. The 33-year-old tied his career home run high with 42 last season, and he’s hit .272/.367/.544 over the past five seasons with at least 30 homers each year.
It’s a splashy move for Cleveland’s front office, who hasn’t made any big moves on the free agent market since being burned with big contracts to Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn a few years ago. Encarnacion’s guaranteed $65 million marks the largest deal in team history (which says more about the team’s traditional stinginess than it does about Encarnacion).
Third baseman José Ramirez is appropriately pleased: