Seems the Chicago White Sox are not waiting for stores to re-open before ransacking the shelves for bargains.
On the heels of his reporting that Luis Robert has an extension offer on the table, South Side Hit Pen managing editor James Fox also brings news of a new addition to the White Sox family:
And in spite of his Christmas morn tweet, with Encarnación conditionally signing with the White Sox, internally James is telling us that it’s a done deal, with “terms agreed upon.”
On social media many have followed up on Fox’s scoop, including Héctor Gómez above and other usual suspects, from Jon Heyman to Bruce Levine. So the Hot Stove fire is hot for this one, and we’re really just waiting for the smoke to emerge from the chimney.
As outlined by Fox, the Encarnación deal is a perfect fit for the White Sox window, with a very minor commitment on the term and cash: one-year, $12 million, option for a second year, $14 million guarantee. It’s like a custom order to fill the needs of the 2020 White Sox, as the big club awaits one of the young bats (Zack Collins, Andrew Vaughn, Gavin Sheets) to potentially assume the big bopper role in 2021 or 2022.
The almost 37-year-old DH has fought a shallow market for his services this winter, given his age and bad injury luck in 2019 (a right broken right wrist on a HBP in early August took him out of action for two months). Still, the 6´1´´, 230-pound masher still managed 2.8 bWAR in just 109 games for Seattle and the Yankees (that’s 4.2 over a full 162-game slate). For a primary DH, that’s solid. (Encarnación played 57 games at first base in 2019, but he is sub-Abreu there and has essentially never in his career put up positive defensive value in a single season of his career.)
Overall, Encarnación is a hitting machine: 42.6 bWAR over 15 seasons, with 414 career home runs and 162-game averages of 35 homers and 105 RBIs. His slash in 2019 was .244/.344/.531 with a 132 OPS+, and his .875 OPS would have slotted second on the White Sox, some 41 points better than Abreu.
While some (this author included) might prefer a solid offensive and defensive option (read: Yasiel Puig, not Nicholas Castellanos, Marcell Ozuna or Encarnación) to plug into the playing lineup to help patch right field and DH, again, GM Rick Hahn has fortified the team responsibly, on modest contract terms.
Of course, we shouldn’t break our arms patting Hahn on the back for his 2019 offseason; after all, the best teams utilize their ample resources to cleverly field a competitive roster, year after year. In fact, a hallmark of the White Sox has been yearly competitiveness, a characteristic that’s faded into memory in the 2010s.
So it’s high time the South Siders get back into a badass groove, especially with three of four teams in the AL Central essentially bowing out of the division race. And as Hahn schemes, Minneapolis burns with offseason inactivity.
Advantage 2020? White Sox.
For those who’ve been asleep at the wheel or just over-eggnogged on this Christmas Day, Wednesday night brought “breaking” tweets essentially re-reporting the terms we brought you above.
So, the deal is “more official” now?
Still waiting on Ozuna, though.