That one Christmas present you forgot to open, that’s just been sitting under the tree? Still EE.
After the news initially broke at holiday time, the White Sox finally got around to duck-duck-goosing a player off of the 40-man roster (sorry, Kodi Medeiros) and announcing the Edwin Encarnación deal on Thursday, for real.
Encarnación, who slots into the lineup as the team’s primary DH, is a perfect fit for the White Sox window, with a very minor commitment on the term and cash: one-year, $12 million, team option for a second year, $12 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 37-year-old DH 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.
“Edwin is a professional hitter, someone who makes each and every at-bat count,” GM Rick Hahn says in the team press release. “His long track record of power is impressive and as a veteran run producer, Edwin adds another threatening bat to our lineup, lengthening our batting order and increasing Rick Renteria’s offensive options on any given night.”
In a bit of a mild surprise, it was Medeiros who was DFA’d to make room for Encarnación on the 40-man roster, so those photos Dylan Covey has of someone in the White Sox front office must be juicy.