Houston Astros Rumors: Why Edwin Encarnacion would be a fine plan B

Edwin Encarnacion of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Loren Elliott/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Edwin Encarnacion of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Loren Elliott/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

After losing out on the Nelson Cruz sweepstakes, the Houston Astros should target Edwin Encarnacion as their plan B. Here’s why this would be a fine plan.

The Houston Astros were said to be one of several teams in contention to sign slugger Nelson Cruz this offseason. It seemed it came down to the Astros, Rays, and Twins. Ultimately, it was announced on Thursday that Cruz would be signing a one year deal to take his bat to Minnesota.

The Astros didn’t necessarily need to add Cruz to their already potent lineup that features studs like Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, George Springer, Carlos Correa, and Michael Brantley. He would have been a luxury add in a spot that could use an upgrade but doesn’t necessarily need one since Tyler White is slated to man the designated hitter role.

However, adding a huge power bat like Cruz would have been a terrific addition to this stacked lineup to make it even more loaded and imposing. White is a solid bat but he doesn’t have the serious pop and years of consistent production that Cruz would have brought to the table.

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Regardless, it doesn’t matter what Cruz would have brought to the table because he signed with the Twins. So, if the Houston Astros want to continue to explore an upgrade at the designated hitter spot, they’ll have to move on to plan B. Plan B should be acquiring Edwin Encarnacion from the Mariners who recently acquired him from the Indians.

Encarnacion was acquired in the flurry of trades the Mariners have been making this offseason. They received Carlos Santana from the Phillies in the deal for Jean Segura. Then, the Mariners subsequently flopped Santana for Encarnacion with the Indians. The Mariners are in a hybrid rebuild/contend mode and Encarnacion, with his price tag, doesn’t exactly fit what they’re going for so they could look to flip him for some MLB ready talent.

Encarnacion, like Cruz, has been a renowned power bat for quite some now and though there are some indications he is at the beginning of his decline heading into his age 36 season, he could still be a very useful bat for a team like the Houston Astros.

Encarnacion is the exact same type of power bat that Cruz, the exact type of bat that could catapult the Houston Astros offense to a completely new level. Over the past seven seasons, Encarnacion has not hit fewer than 32 home runs and has only driven in under 100 runs once, and that was in a season with just 98 RBIs. That same season also featured his fewest amount of games (128) since 2010.

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Encarnacion is typically good for a fairly high average and on-base percentage as well. He has a pretty decent penchant for drawing walks and setting up the guys behind him when he isn’t driving in the guys in front of him. Last year saw a slight dip in both of those departments but there’s no reason to believe that he couldn’t bounce back in both with a change in scenery and coaching.

Adding Encarnacion in the middle of a lineup that features guys that are particularly adept at getting on base could rocket his RBI numbers into a new level that he hasn’t really seen before. He would likely slot in around the four or five spot in order to capitalize on the guys getting on in front of him. Plus, he probably would love to feast on the Crawford Boxes for half a season.

Encarnacion’s age (36) and contract, $20 million for 2019 and a $20 million option for 2020 with a $5 million buyout, will likely mean he won’t demand a king’s ransom in a trade. A couple of medium tier MLB ready players should be able to do the trick. Some combination Rogelio Armenteros, Tony Kemp, Derek Fisher, or J.D. Davis should do the trick.

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For his career, Encarnacion has launched 380 home runs and driven in 1,156 runs. Regardless of who is playing for, next year is sure to be a milestone year for him, here’s to hoping he’s plying his craft for the Houston Astros.