Edwin Encarnacion, the newest Yankee. (Photo: CBS Sports)

Yankees: When Did Edwin Encarnacion Become A Starting Pitcher?

Yankees Fans: Did something happen when we weren’t paying attention and Edwin Encarnacion is now a front-line starting pitcher? Trust Cashman…

Edwin Encarnacion and his 401 career home runs are now wearing the New York Yankees pinstripes. Plucked only for money from the super sale soon to be going on in the Seattle Mariners front office, Brian Cashman has once again pulled off a stunner trade, once again drawing the attention of Major League Baseball.

The trade can be labeled as a stunner because most believed starting pitching is Cashman’s main priority before adding more power to an already stacked Yankees lineup. That, together with the fact the Yankees are in the midst of a June Swoon, Cashman has dodged a bullet with his splash in the water.

However, the fact Encarnacion is primarily a designated hitter at this stage of his career, stepping into a Yankees lineup soon to be overloaded at that position with the return of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge.

Delightfully, Yankees manager Aaron Boone has been shuffling the DH spot easily between Gary Sanchez, Luke Voit, and Clint Frazier. Now, Boone will be forced to re-shuffle the deck to find playing time for Encarnacion, together with Stanton and Judge who still need protection from their tendencies for injuries.

Repercussions Looming With The Encarnacion Deal

One repercussion of the deal for Encarnacion has already been levied, and its weight falls heavily on Clint Frazier, who almost immediately was demoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre following the game on Sunday.

Clint Frazier, New York Yankees Outfielder (Photo: SI.com)
Clint Frazier, New York Yankees Outfielder (Photo: SI.com)

Frazier, as expected, did not take the demotion lightly, pointing to his .283 batting average with 11 home runs and 34 RBI while playing as a regular in the Yankees lineup for 53 games. Putting on his best taking one for the team face, Frazier told the YES Network, “It’s a tough pill to swallow. It’s never fun, especially with how much I felt like I’ve contributed to the team this year”.

In all likelihood, Cashman, who is facing a reduced but not decimated Yankees farm system, will now be forced to use Frazier as the linchpin in a deal for a starting pitcher. But that depends too on how well Frazier overcomes his deficiencies in the outfield while playing every day at Scranton.

It’s been a bumpy ride for Clint Frazier ever since coming over to the Yankees in the deal sending Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians. If a deal is consummated, most Yankees fans will be disappointed, but at the same time wish Frazier nothing but the best.

Cashman’s Real Target Coming Soon…

Teams will use Frazier’s defensive challenges as a bargaining chip to induce more from the Yankees, making Cashman’s job even more challenging. One team that could waive those deficiencies is the power-hungry San Francisco Giants, who have been reduced to an aging Buster Posey in that department.

Madison Bumgarner, Walkaway Winner 2014 WS MVP (Photo: cincinnati.com)
Madison Bumgarner, Walkaway Winner 2014 WS MVP (Photo: cincinnati.com)

Not coincidentally is the fact the Giants also control (at least for now) the destiny of Madison Bumgarner, who is set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019 season. Notably, Bumgarner has a no-trade clause which reportedly nixes the Yankees as a team he would go to.

But everything is negotiable, especially considering the fact that Bumgarner would be jumping from the woeful last-place Giants to the Yankees, a team with their eyes set on a World Series appearance (minimum).

Moreover, the deal involving Bumgarner should revolve around a single question. Of all the pitchers reported being available, including Mike Minor (Texas), Matthew Boyd (Tigers), Zack Wheeler (NY Mets), and Marcus Stroman (Toronto)…who would Aaron Boone and the Yankees like to have available to start Game One in any of the upcoming playoff series – Madison Bumgarner or any of the above?

Back to Edwin Encarnacion for a minute. His addition to the lineup leaves the Yankees with heavy right-handed power, save only for the switch-hitting Aaron Hicks, Didi Gregorius, and Brett Gardner who, by the way, will also be facing reduced playing time in the outfield. Leaving to wonder if the Yankees will face a left-handed pitcher for the remainder of the season.

No, THIS is Brian Cashman’s Real Target

Not so fast though because the brain of Brian Cashman is constantly at work. Consider this. One way or another, the title for the AL East is going to go through Boston for the Yankees, whether or not the Red Sox make the playoffs.

Brian Cashman: A Man Of Stealth And Precision
Brian Cashman: A Man Of Stealth And Precision

No, this was a direct hit on the Red Sox and their two outstanding lefties, Chris Sale and David Price, and the remaining games the Yankees square off against the Red Sox.

Now, of course, it’s back to work for Brian Cashman because even with Encarnacion the Yankees cannot be expected to bludgeon their way to a pennant. They need starting pitching and they need it now. In that regard, nothing has changed for the Yankees this season.

Think Justin Verlander and what he’s done for the Houston Astros. Madison “Bum” Bumgarner fits the same bill for the Yankees. And if you’re looking, don’t pay any attention to his stats this year. This guy is a proven winner, especially in Prime Time…

Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball
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