Texas Rangers rumors: Edwin Encarnacion has long been a player of interest for the Texas Rangers, but also was expected to command more than what Texas would be looking to pay as a free agent this offseason, with some projections suggesting that he would get 5 years, $125 million.
Ken Rosenthal, however, says that Encarnacion’s suitors are “disappearing,” and that there is talk that the 4 year, $80 million deal from the Jays Encarnacion rejected may have been a better deal than he thought it was.
Jon Daniels has said that the Rangers are planning on addressing their first base situation internally, likely with a Jurickson Profar/Ryan Rua platoon to start the season, while waiting for Joey Gallo to click in AAA. JD has said that his focus is on center field and starting pitching, not first base.
However, as we saw with Ian Desmond last year, focus can change if a player the Rangers like sees his market change. Rosenthal mentions the Rangers in passing in his piece, but Jim Bowden specifically calls Texas “[t]he team to watch” on Encarnacion, and suggests a three year deal with an opt-out after year one, like Yoenis Cespedes did last year with the Mets, might make sense.
Encarnacion will cost whatever team that signs him a draft pick, but under the new CBA, he can’t cost draft pick compensation next year, which makes the notion of a one year deal, or a deal with an opt-out after 2017, more attractive for him. The risk is that he will be 35 to start the 2018 season, and there’s no telling if the market will be that much better for him then.
Encarnacion has been one of the best and most consistent hitters in baseball over the past five years, putting up a .272/.367/.544 slash line over that stretch, with his OPS being no higher than 941 and no lower than last year’s 886. Depending on how the Rangers want to structure their position players, he could go to first base for Texas, with Shin-Soo Choo at DH and the Rua/Profar platoon in left field, or he could be the DH, with Rua/Profar at 1B and Choo in RF, with Nomar Mazara in left field.
Encarnacion was originally a Ranger draft pick, being selected in the 9th round in 2000, and then getting shipped to Cincinnati, along with Ruben Mateo, for Rob Bell in 2001. Bringing him back on a short-term deal would definitely strengthen the lineup, and though I’m leery of opt-outs, a three year deal would seem to minimize the risk. Signing Encarnacion would require the Rangers to either go cheap in center field and the rotation, or require ownership to expand payroll beyond what is expected. But hey, with that new park opening soon, Bob and Ray can afford to open their wallets a little more, right?