The long wait is finally over, as free agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion has signed with the Cleveland Indians to a 3-year deal worth $65 million, with a club option for the 2020 season worth $20 million. Encarnacion had received interest from other clubs, most notably the Oakland Athletics, the Texas Rangers, and the Colorado Rockies.
Encarnacion is expected to become the Indians’ primary first baseman and secondary designated hitter, filling in the hole left by free agent Mike Napoli, who clubbed 34 home runs and drove in 101 runners in 2016 en route to a World Series appearance for the Indians, their first since 1997. In 2016, Encarnacion slashed .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs and 127 runs batted in with the Toronto Blue Jays, who appeared in the American League Championship Series against Cleveland. Cleveland beat Toronto in 5 games.
Encarnacion has been one of baseball’s best players in the past 5 seasons, as he has slashed a combined .272/.367/.544 with 193 home runs and 550 runs batted in over that time span. During this span, Encarnacion has finished within the top 15 on the MVP ballot 4 times, with his highest placing of 11th coming in 2012. Edwin has also made 3 all-star games as well during the span, with his latest coming this season.
The signing of Encarnacion will help open the floodgates for other free agent sluggers like Chris Carter, Mark Trumbo, and Mike Napoli. Trumbo has garnered interest from the Colorado Rockies and Napoli has interest from the Seattle Mariners, while Chris Carter has multiple teams on his end, but a decision does not seem close.