The Yankees decision to pass on Edwin Encarnacion, while not unexpected, sends ripples through the infield and DH spot. What happens now?
Tagged as a first base/DH option for Aaron Boone when Luke Voit went down with an injury, Encarnacion failed dismally in the postseason when the team needed him most (1-22 with no home runs and no RBI).
November 4th is the deadline for the Yankees to tender their eligible free agents a qualifying offer, which is a one-year contract worth the average of the top 125 salaries, or $17.8 million this offseason.
Although the Yankees have a dozen players who are eligible for free agency in 2020, only Didi Gregorius represents a “time-out” before deciding on whether or not he is worth nearly $18 million for one season of play.
A fan favorite and widely credited with making the transition from Derek Jeter a smooth one, Gregorius has seen a decline in skills that are mostly due to injury and the inability to bounce back quickly.
Approaching 30, Gregorius is likely to be sent on his way as a free agent on Monday (or before).
Reportedly, there are teams interested in his services (Reds).
With that, together with Encarnacion’s departure, the reassembly of the Yankee’s infield begins.
Before we jump the gun, though…
Before we go there, however, we need to add a caveat that precludes the Yankees adding a player or two via the trade route.
The Cleveland Indians can’t afford their All-Star shortstop, Francisco Lindor, now or in the future. Thus, Lindor will be a hot trade topic this winter or most definitely at the trade deadline in July.
The Yankees, meanwhile, would consider either player an upgrade to Gregorius in trying to working out a deal with the team losing either player.
Yankees 2020 infield – Which one do you prefer
Beyond that speculation, there is enough to deal with in the players the Yankees already have. Which comprises a better infield for the 2020 Yankees?
Gleyber Torres – Shortstop
DJ LeMahieu – Second Base
Luke Voit/Mike Ford – First Base
Francisco Lindor/Corey Seager – Shortstop
Gleyber Torres – Second Base
DJ LeMahieu – First Base
Given the unknown status of Andujar and his ability to return as the player he was from injury, the Yankees are likely to let it play out as part of the drama when the team assembles in Tampa.
In either case, it behooves the Yankees to find a permanent spot for Le Mahieu. The ultimate warrior and MVP candidate in the Yankees lineup last year,
LeMahieu braved through the many gloves carried in his locker, and which one he needed from game-to-game.
Nothing seems to bother Gleyber Torres, given his age and athletic ability. But again, stability and routine is everything to a major league player is everything, and the Yankees would seem to want to make Torres as “comfortable” as possible as his budding stardom takes root.
From surplus to an opportunity to solidify the infield
Edwin Encarnacion was surplus, to begin with when Brian Cashman added him to the team as (yet) another right-handed bat in the lineup.
At the very least, his absence opens up a treasure of options for the Yankees and Cashman to consider when formulating the roster they will carry North in March.
This coming Monday will tell us a lot about how the Yankees see their immediate and long-range future when the announcement is made about Didi Gregorius.
Let the Hot Stove begin…