5. Edwin Encarnacion
Update: Edwin Encarnacion signed with the Chicago White Sox for one year and $12 million with a club option for 2021.
In a rare surge of spending after their World Series appearance, the Cleveland Indians signed slugger Edwin Encarnacion to a three-year deal for $60 million. He was coming off an eight-year run in Toronto where he hit .268/.355/.522 with 239 home runs and 679 RBI and an OPS+ of 136. Encarnacion led the American League with 127 RBI in his final year with the Blue Jays. His contract with the Indians yielded mixed results. Encarnacion hit .252/.358/.490 with 70 home runs and 214 RBI for the Tribe.
The Indians traded Encarnacion and his expiring contract to the Seattle Mariners last winter to get back Carlos Santana, whose contract runs at least one more year. He hit .241/.356/.531 with 21 home runs and 49 RBI in 65 games with the Mariners, who then traded him to the Yankees. Encarnacion ended the year with a .244/.344/.531 line with 34 home runs and 86 RBI and an OPS+ of 132.
As he heads into his age-37 season, Encarnacion remains a productive power bat. His limited mobility and age will limit his market to American League teams only, but he should be able to find a job. Will he prioritize guaranteed at-bats with a lesser team or be willing to accept a lesser role with a contender? Encarnacion is only 86 home runs away from 500. While hitting 500 home runs is no longer good for automatic selection to the Hall of Fame, it is still a number that carries a lot of weight.
Unfortunately for Encarnacion, there just aren’t many AL contenders who have a pressing need for a full-time DH. He was lucky to latch on with the Yankees last summer when they were dealing with multiple injuries. The Chicago White Sox stand out as a potential destination. A return to the Blue Jays also makes sense, and Encarnacion could mentor and offer protection in the lineup for Vlad Guerrero Jr.