Headlines, Indians

Indians have “multiyear offer” on table with Edwin Encarnacion

Edwin Encarnacion
USA TODAY

Could the Cleveland Indians actually sign Edwin Encarnacion? What felt like a pipedream just weeks ago is slowly morphing into reality with multi-layered rumors circulating that the Indians are knocking on the door of adding what could be the biggest non-pitching free agent of the entire offseason.

ESPN’s Jim Boweden reports that the Indians are one of five teams with multiyear offers on the table for the power-hitting first baseman with “ngotiations continuing at a rapid pace.” Bowden later reported that of the five teams talking to Encarnacion, it’s the Indians (along with the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics) who are “favorites” to ink the right-hander.

We also have Jon Heyman (who has been all over these negotiations) reporting the Indians are “pulling out all the stops” in their efforts to sign Encarnacion, a player who we have long discussed as the perfect signing for a team looking to return to the World Series, though it would likely mean the end of any discussions with last season’s first baseman, Mike Napoli.

Let’s say Encarnacion could be had at three years, $65 million. Assuming each win-above-replacement player (WAR) is worth $8-9 million on the open market, this contract should still provide surplus value. Even if you assume that due to age (Encarnacion will turn 34 prior to the 2017 season) and other factors (change in park, etc.) Encarnacion averages 2.5-3 WAR per year over the length of the contract, a contract at this level would still provide market value.

Due to his age and the depressed market, Encarnacion is also likely to sign for only three to four years. At only age 34, the age curve is certainly a concern, but similar players have sustained success late into their careers. This shorter contract mitigates the risk to the Indians. Often, it’s the years, not the annual salary that forces the Indians out of the market on 4-win free agents. This is an instance where the shorter contract helps the Indians get out from under the deal if it goes the way of Nick Swisher or Michael Bourn.

Encarnacion has averaged 39 home runs and 110 RBIs over the past five seasons. In 2016 with the Blue Jays, the 33-year-old hit .263 (.886 OPS) with 42 home runs, 127 RBIs, and an fWAR of 3.9.

More WFNY on Encarnacion:

  • RGB

    Any word on whether Melvin Gordon will be playing Saturday?

  • akzipper

    Indians probably lowballed just so they can say they tried…Same thing happens every year.

  • jpftribe
  • Garry_Owen
  • RGB
  • Harv

    I’d rather this happen than the Browns winning out and making the playoffs because the 9 teams ahead of them suffer an ongoing and horrible peristaltic chain reaction.

  • Steve

    The Indians probably have an already set value on Encarnacion, and aren’t willing to go above it, especially when it will almost certainly mean nothing more than Kinzer taking the offer to other teams and going “here’s what you have to beat”.

  • Steve

    Ahh the offseason, where fans hope grows wildly, like children seeing all the package pile up under the tree, but based on nothing more than the press releases of agents looking to save face. The Heyman article is especially egregious. How much of that did he actually write rather than Kinzer? Rosenthal’s isn’t much better.

  • Harv

    Agree with much of this, because who but the agent looking to create demand would tell a reporter that “things are heating up” or that 5 teams have already made long-term offers? Same thing happens in NFL Silly Season, when “team insiders” supposedly risk their jobs just to tell a reporter how the team feels about a potential draftee.

    Still, these reports can be bull and the Tribe might still sign him. So sayeth my avatar: sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  • woofersus

    Yeah, when I read “pulling out all the stops” I immediately thought, “except the one where they meet his asking price, apparently.” I’m sure the Indians are interested and I wouldn’t be shocked if they had thrown an offer out, but it clearly wasn’t enough, and clearly none of the teams are where Encarnacion wants to be or is willing to settle for yet.

    I would imagine one of the “frontrunners” currently has a “this is the best we can do” offer out there and the agent is trying to play them against each other to get somebody to pony up just a little more. Ten to one the Indians have their number and aren’t budging.

  • Steve

    “Still, these reports can be bull and the Tribe might still sign him.”

    Oh absolutely. My gripe is not with the team nor even the agent. Both seem to be doing their job, and working their rear ends off to get what’s best for who they work for. It’s with the reporters who regurgitate obvious plants and the fans who eat them up wildly, encouraging the reporter to do it more often.

    Sign Encarnacion for the full 4/$80, don’t make an offer. I could go either way, and I think the front office has deserved enough of a pass whichever way they go. I just get annoyed at the “news” when it’s a nothingburger.

  • Harv

    full agreement. I’m even ok with them making a 3/$60 if that’s all they can stomach, and smoking out the agent, even if the agent ultimately uses that for leverage with Texas or Toronto. Sometimes you get lucky. I’ll bet Kansas City never thought they’d get Mitchell Schwartz at numbers lower than the Browns had originally offered but … surprise! Stuff sometimes happens, and you can’t win if you don’t play.

  • jpftribe

    (que Mark Farner)
    I’m getting closer to my home………..

    https://twitter.com/Buster_ESPN/status/812062853884682240

  • scripty

    Let’s wrap this up and put him on the Jumbotron at the Xmas Cavs game.

  • scripty

    ” “except the one where they meet his asking price, apparently.””

    lolz

  • jpftribe

    They got him……

  • Steve

    I’m not sure what I’m eating crow for. The “reports” were clearly plants by Kinzer to reporters who think the only important thing is to tweet something 30 seconds before the next guy. Nothing written last night or this morning was anything more than Kinzer begging for better deals, and Heyman and Rosenthal facilitating that for him in the hopes that he will tell them instead of the other that 30 seconds earlier. Orwell’s head would be spinning at how much more public relations this was than journalism.

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  • You mean outside of your general demeanor and pessimism?

    “Ahh the offseason, where fans’ hope grows wildly, like children seeing all the package pile up under the tree, but based on nothing more than the press releases of agents looking to save face…

    That he hasn’t signed is evidence that either the Indians have pulled out all the stops and Encarnacion still doesn’t want to be here, to which I say don’t let the door hit you on the way out, or the Indians actually haven’t pulled out all the stops…”

  • Steve

    Ah, so this is just nothing more than personal. And a great holiday season to you too Scott.