In the strangest news of the offseason so far, Fanrag Sports's Jon Heyman is reporting tonight that the A's are taking a look at Edwin Encarnacion. Seriously.
The A's, the major league baseball team currently residing in Oakland, are considering signing Edwin Encarnacion, the top remaining free agent on the market.
There is not another Edwin Encarnacion that the A's are considering signing. This is not a Rougned Odor situation, where Edwin Encarnacion has an identical twin coincidentally also named Edwin Encarnacion. We are talking about the A's taking a run at the real Edwin Encarnacion. This isn't a trick.
The A's are going after Edwin Encarnacion. I just wanted to make sure you got that.
It makes a certain amount of sense, given how absurdly cheap the current A's team is, even by A's standards. They need to add payroll somewhere, so giving Encarnacion a payday could be a way to avoid the PR hit caused by having an overly cheap team. As we saw with the CBA negotiations, there are consequences for the team that come with having that reputation.
The largest contract the franchise has ever given out was Eric Chavez's 6 year, $66 million extension signed in 2004. While an Encarnacion deal probably would not eclipse that in terms of total value, he would almost certainly be the highest paid player in A's history in terms of AAV.
He would also cost the A's a draft pick, but since they were one of the ten worst teams in baseball last year, it would only be a second round pick. Because of the comp pick the A's received earlier this month, they already have three picks in the top 50, so it's not a big deal to lose one.
With the fan outreach campaign Dave Kaval and ownership has been out in front of, the front office could've gotten the go ahead to sign a big name to get fans invested in the team. We have seen that before with this ownership group, as Lew Wolff has taken part of the blame for the Matt Holliday trade. At least an Encarnacion deal would only cost money, and not the Carlos Gonzalez centered package that Holliday demanded.
I'm spitballing here, because I'm stunned by this rumor.
The A's have been almost entirely quiet this offseason, and I was starting to get used to the idea that we would just maintain talent while we rebuild. Even if this doesn't come true, this strikes me as a confirmation that the A's are staying opportunistic and looking to strike on any player whose price comes down sufficiently.
That's probably good news, at least for the short-term success of the club. Whether artificially ending the rebuild is a good idea long-term depends on the sort of contracts given out and the sort of trades made. Never go full 2015 Padres.
Encarnacion was technically on the A's once upon a time, but only technically. In November 2010, two years before Encarnacion became Encarnacion, the Blue Jays designated him for assignment and placed him on waivers. The A's claimed him, but non-tendered him a month later. He ended up re-signing with the Blue Jays, and eventually turned into one of the best and most consistent hitters in the league.
Encarnacion will be entering his age 34 season, and hit .262/.357/.529 last year. His market seems to have inexplicably disappeared as the offseason has gone on, which is interesting, because there are no real red flags associated with him. He's played over 140 games in four of the past five seasons, and has no real injury issues whatsoever.
Last year was technically his worst season with the Blue Jays, as his wRC+ dropped all the way down from a consistent 146-151 wRC+ to a 134 wRC+. But even that's not concerning, given that a 134 wRC+ is Extremely Good. Coincidentally, that's exactly what Ryon Healy put up last year.
Encarnacion is a DH, and he would play there with the A's. That would move Matt Joyce out to right field, which is not ideal given his defensive shortcomings, but it's not a massive problem. First base and third base would both remain open to accommodate Healy and the eventual promotion of top prospect Matt Chapman.
The A's are going after Edwin Encarnacion. Like, actually. Maybe. I don't know. This is a strange new world. Somebody needs to hold me.