Is Jeff Luhnow Making a Strong Push for Edwin Encarnacion to Make the Astros Great Again?
With the Toronto Blue Jays signing Kendry Morales yesterday as the designated hitter, could they be moving on from Edwin Encarnacion? The Blue Jays also signed Houston Astros infielder Yulieski Gurriel‘s brother Lourdes Gourriel to a seven-year deal. This probably doesn’t prevent re-signing Encarnacion, but the Morales signing could. Encarnacion did play 75 games last year at first base. He was mostly the designated hitter.
Ken Rosenthal suggests that the thinking could change for the Blues Jays. If the Blue Jays are moving on, this will leave the battle between the Astros and Red Sox. As I wrote Thursday night, Encarnacion wants to make a decision quickly. At least, that’s what his agent said. Being a person who doesn’t like to draw things out, Encarnacion wants to pick a team that is ready to win. He also intends to pick a team that he and his family would feel comfortable in.
Many Americans are threatening to move to Canada since Donald Trump won the election. Encarnacion could be looking to move to the United States. Houston is a great place to live as long as you like hot temperatures and traffic. The Astros have become one of the top free agent destinations with their young core. GM Jeff Luhnow has also vowed to be more aggressive this offseason, is he all in for Encarnacion?
Why the rush?
If his competition is the Red Sox, Luhnow could be making a strong push to get a deal done early. Encarnacion could be the second-best free agent on the market. He is seeking five-years and $125 million dollars, but he will be 34-years old at the start of the 2017 season.
Luhnow may not be wanting to offer the full five years, but instead, offer a shorter contract with a higher yearly contract. Rosenthal suggested that teams that are analytics decision makers tend not to go for longer contracts.
The Astros have the need and financial resources available to sign the slugger. They have shaved an estimated $57 million with departures from 2016. However, what they don’t have is the financial resources that the Red Sox could have. With Encarnacion in a hurry to make a decision, Luhnow is most likely making a strong push for Encarnacion before December 1st. If the Stros don’t sign him by then, they will be in a bidding war with the Red Sox.
The Red Sox could be looking to sign a designated hitter on a short term basis. Rosenthal suggests that the Red Sox could be waiting to see if the luxury tax threshold rises. This will be announced on December first. If the threshold rises from $189 million to $210 million, the Red Sox will most likely be able to outbid the Astros.
If other teams get into the picture, it could cause the bidding to skyrocket. Look for the Astros push to get a deal done next week. The closer Encarnacion gets to December 1st, when the CBA is done, the more likely it is he waits it out. Luhnow probably has a set plan, acquire a big bat and get a catcher (cough, Brian McCann.) Don’t rule out Yoenis Cespedes either. The team is looking to make a splash.
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Yeah right, the Astros are all talk.
We hear you fans. You will believe it when you see it. While some things are out of team control, Luhnow is trying to make something happen. What if the Astros really discussed a Miguel Cabrera trade, but then they decided it was too costly? This team could be a big bat away from being more consistent on offense, which could lead to better pitching performances.
There is a lot of pressure within baseball for the Astros to make a move. This team is almost ready to make the Sports Illustrated predictions of the 2017 World Series true. Many people will be held accountable if the team does not capitalize on this window. The time is now to get off the winning the World Series drought list.
How will Encarnacion look in Astro orange? I hope we find out. This is the one player that I would do anything for Luhnow to insert into the batting order.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***