One slugger the Yankees can trade for to replace Edwin Encarnacion

New York Yankees, Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs

The New York Yankees decided to trade for Edwin Encarnacion before the trade deadline during the 2019 regular season, and he produced nicely for the team until the postseason rolled around. He finished with 13 homers and 33 RBIs over 44 games with the Bombers, helping them seal clutch victories on numerous occasions.

However, the Yankees let him walk in free agency after his .056 batting average in the ALCS against the Houston Astros. The sole purpose of bringing him to the Bronx was to maximize his home runs totals, which the Yankees prefer for their hitters considering their home-run centric mentality. He fit the mold perfectly as a designated hitter and first base supplement. Injuries did hurt his consistency.

Who can the Yankees pursue to replace him?

Finding a capable slugger to help the DH position should be a priority beyond signing star pitcher Gerrit Cole, who inked a nine-year, $324 million deal with the Yanks.

One exciting option is Kyle Schwarber, who clocked 38 homers in 2019. Last week, Ken Rosenthal reported that the Yankees and Chicago Cubs had discussed the possibility of Schwarzer coming to the Bronx. The 26-year-old left fielder serves a specific purpose, and while his defense isn’t noteworthy, his offensive production is exactly with GM Brian Cashman is looking for.

With six outfielders already on the roster, though, trading for him would require an additional move — possibly the trading of Clint Frazier.

Schwarber slashed .250/.339/.531 in 2019 with a .817 OPS and 120 wRC+. The Yankees have had success extracting quality from average hitters, and with Kyle’s power, there’s plenty of room to improve, especially in the contact department.

The reality is, Schwarber would fit perfectly with the Bombers’ lineup, as he ranked among the league’s best in barrel percentage, expected slugging percentage, and exit velocity. He also finished in the top 1% in hard-hit rate. His influence in an already power-packed lineup would be intimidating for opposing pitchers.

Could the Yankees really go with Mike Ford and Luke Voit at first base in 2020?

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

The New York Yankees can go several different directions in 2020 at the first base position. They could commit to DJ LeMahieu, who served as a utility man throughout the 2019 season, at first, or they can rely on two players who have yet to prove they can be consistent options beyond just one season.

Both Mike Ford and Luke Voit can be potential starters at the position, despite limited sample-sizes of efficiency. First base continues to be a question mark for the Bombers, and with minimal options in free agency, plugging in Voit, who was traded to the Yankees in 2018 from the St. Louis Cardinals, is a healthy choice.

Luke finished his first season with the Yankees in 2018 batting .333 with 14 homers and 33 RBIs over 132 at-bats. Last season, he also looked solid, hitting .263 with 21 homers and 62 RBIs over 429 at-bats.

Two consecutive productive seasons for Voit gives him a leg up over Ford, who was injected into the starting team halfway through 2019 to assist while the regular first basemen were injured and recovering.

Ford hit .259 and 12 homers last season, his first major league campaign. He played a significant part in supplementing the loss of Voit and Edwin Encarnacion at times. He has the potential to be a starter for the team, but his services might not be called upon just yet. He is a favorable candidate to slide into the designated hitter position and act as a reserve first baseman in the scenario that Voit misses any time.

What makes Luke Voit so attractive for the Yankees?

Voit was on a one year, $573,000 deal in 2019. His low cap-hit gives the Yankees cash on hand to pursue other players. I imagine he will remain a moderate hit and settle in the $1-2 million range next year. If he can continue to produce offensively, the slugger can be the every-day first baseman for the Yankees moving forward. Having Ford waiting in the wings is also a great thing, as he will eventually be the successor if Voit struggles.

Will the Yankees give Luke Voit another chance at first base and replace Edwin Encarnacion?

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

The New York Yankees can’t rely on utility player DJ LeMahieu to cover the first base position forever. Eventually, they will need to solidify the spot and give him the freedom to return to his favorable positions. That begs the question, is manager Aaron Boone keen on giving Luke Voit a second chance at life at first base?

Voit, who finished the season batting .263 with 21 homers, missed the last quarter of the year with a sports hernia. He also missed the entire postseason despite his desire to be a part of the active roster. His 2019 campaign wasn’t bad, and while his offensive production undoubtedly made up for his defensive mishaps, there could be a place for him on the team moving forward.

The Yankees signed Voit to a one year, $573,000 salary last season, which makes him more valuable considering his low price tag. If they can re-sign him for a similar amount of money, he would be a steal once again for the Bombers. Also, he fits their ideology and homerun centric mentality. He can be a reliable designated hitter as well if the Yankees manage to find a more defensive first baseman.

The New York Yankees could explore other avenues on the FA market:

There are several other options on the market, though. Howie Kendrick is one of them, and at 36 years old, he hit .344 for the World Series-winning Washington Nationals. Over 334 at-bats, he recorded 17 home runs and 62 RBIs (baseball-reference). He had a stellar campaign for the Nationals this year, and he is an attractive option in free agency.

Kendrick earned $4 million this past season and could hover around the same price tag despite his fantastic statistical year. His age is undoubtedly a factor, but 14 years of experience prove his worth.

If the Yankees want to bring in an established player that can help rally the troops, Kendrick could be their man. I imagine they will also keep Voit on the roster, especially after the departure of Edwin Encarnacion.

Kendrick isn’t a bonafide power hitter, but he makes solid contact and gets on base frequently. Also, his defensive abilities are stellar. Over 48 games for the Nationals, he only committed one error with a .997 fielding percentage at first base.

Inserting him into the starting lineup and keeping Voit as a reserve option is not a bad idea. I imagine general manager Brian Cashman will be observing all opportunities this off-season.

New York Yankees: Is Mike Ford the future at first base over Luke Voit?

New York Yankees, Mike Ford

With the New York Yankees failing to reach the coveted World Series after a season with over 100 wins, they must find the weaknesses on the team and begin to diagnose the issues currently present. One of the question marks heading into the offseason is at first base, where the Yankees feature Luke Voit, Edwin Encarnacion, and Mike Ford.

Voit, who finished the season batting .263 with 21 homers, missed the latter portion of the season due to a sports hernia injury. The ailment inevitably forced him out of postseason play as he watched on from the bench. The Yankees could have used his power throughout the ALCS against the Houston Astros, but clearly, he was not capable of playing at a high level, even though he managed to convince team doctors he could play if needed.

The first baseman was on a one-year, $573K salary, which might have been the reason he was so excited to be a part of the active postseason roster. This might have been his final chance at playing for a playoff-caliber team, but the Bombers would be smart to bring him back on a cheap deal. Hitting 21 homers goes along with the Yankees’ mantra, and he can be a reliable designated hitter, given his defensive qualities don’t improve.

Does Edwin Encarnacion have a future with the New York Yankees?

As for Edwin Encarnacion, his services were purely situational. Adding a big-time slugger to the lineup for a late-season push was the reason behind his trading. The Yankees will undoubtedly activate his $5 million buy-out to avoid paying $20 million for his bat in 2020. This will force the Yankees to wither stick with Voit or fall back on Mike Ford.

Ford, who hit .259 on 12 homers last season, saw his first major league action in a stellar campaign for the Yankees. The team fought through injuries, and Ford played a significant part in supplementing the loss of Voit and Encarnacion at times. He can undoubtedly be the first baseman for the future if the Yankees believe he can be a consistent option. He has the power and strikeout rate to be a quality player.

Comparable to Encarnacion, Ford struck out far less. Over 143 at-bats, Ford struck out just 28 times, while Edwin missed the ball 48 times over 177 at-bats. With only one year of experience under his belt, Ford can develop into a reliable player.

New York Yankees: Will the Yankees regret letting Encarnacion go?

New York Yankees, Edwin Encarnacion

The New York Yankees picked up Edwin Encarnacion in a trade during June this season. They took a shot on an MLB veteran who has postseason experience and is one of the best power hitters in the Major Leagues.

The team announced on Thursday that they have declined their $20 million club option for Encarnacion for next season, paying him a $5 million dollar buyout which will make him a free agent.

Encarnacion played 44 games with the New York Yankees, where he was limited because of a few injuries. He slashed .249/.325/.531 (with the Yankees) with 13 home runs and 37 runs batted in. Not a stellar year, but he did some good things for the Yanks.

The truth is, the Yankees took a shot on Encarnacion. I think when they picked him up, they knew that this was most likely going to be a one-year thing.

But here’s the truth: the Yankees have too many guys with high home run totals but low averages with a ton of strikeouts, and that’s the same thing Encarnacion brought to the table. One of the things that bit them during the playoffs was not having guys looking to put the ball in play rather than hit it 400 feet every time.

Despite having a stellar ALDS performance against the Minnesota Twins, Encarnacion went 1-18 with 11 strikeouts in the ALCS against Houston. I understand that players go through cold streaks and this clearly isn’t how Encarnacion usually plays, but there’s also an argument how he went ice cold when it mattered.

Encarnacion is 36 years old so he’s nearing the end of his career. He’ll most likely sign a one or two year deal with a team.

The New York Yankees Have Declined Edwin Encarnacion’s Option

New York Yankees, Edwin Encarnacion

In case you missed it, the New York Yankees announced on Thursday that the team will be declining DH/1B Edwin Encarnacion’s player option. If the team did pick up the option, he would be paid 20 million dollars in 2020.

The almost 37 year old was acquired in a trade from Seattle for prospect Juan Then back in June. Encarnacion played in just 43 games for the Yankees due to a few injuries.

For the entire season, Encarnacion hit .244 with 34 home runs and 86 RBIs. He had a 2.7 WAR, an OBP of almost .350, and an OPS of almost .900.

A big issue for him throughout the season was the strikeout, and it really affected him in the postseason. He looked completely lost against the Houston Astros, and only a few ALCS at-bats didn’t result in one.

Too Much To Keep

The Yankees would love to keep Edwin Encarnacion and his power, but it would be at the cost of too much money. If the Yankees could sign him for cheap, that’d be one thing, but 20 million dollars is way too much. The Yankees need to focus on a starting pitcher and possibly a corner infielder.

Encarnacion is now a free agent and is searching for a new home. With his age and the amount that he wants, don’t be surprised if it takes him close to Spring Training to sign a deal.

It was great having Edwin Encarnacion on the team in 2019, but due to his high strikeout rate, low batting average, and wanting too much money, the Yankees have to let him walk.

New York Yankees: Who likely won’t return next season?

The New York Yankees are notorious for having a stacked lineup and to have a deep farm system. As it was seen this season, they called up guys that consistently contributed to the Major League team like it was nothing. With that being said, they have a lot of talent being buried in their organization.

Didi Gregorius

One of the biggest question marks for the roster next season, Didi Gregorius is believed by many that he most likely won’t be the Yankee shortstop next season. It’s believed that Gleyber Torres showed enough at shortstop this season that the Yankees could make him the starting shortstop.

Emotionally, this hurts. Logically, it kind of makes sense. Gregorius just built himself in the Bronx and is loved by the fans. However, it does make sense that Torres could be the starting shortstop.

There’s no word on where Gregorius is going to land next season, but any decision the Yankees make will be justifiable.

Clint Frazier

Despite his success at the beginning of the regular season, nobody feels more buried in the Yankee organization more than Clint Frazier. Behind stars, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, the only place Frazier would fit in the Yankee lineup would be in the DH role.

The New York Yankees definitely know that Frazier has talent. If they didn’t think so, they would’ve traded him away in the July 31st trade deadline this season. With that being said (given that the outfield stays the same), Frazier would still be buried behind Stanton, Judge, Hicks, and there’s even an argument for Mike Tauchman.

It’s very likely that the Yankees use Frazier in order to get better pitching. He’s a young talent that any team would love to have in their organization. He’s far from his peak and he has the potential to be the leader in any lineup.

Edwin Encarnacion

After being traded to the Yankees in mid-June, the 36-year-old veteran batted .249 with 13 home runs and 37 runs batted in. Edwin Encarnacion had an unbelievable ALDS performance and then went ice cold in the ALCS.

The Yankees have a decision to make: they could bring him back for the 2020 season and pay him $20 million, or pay him a $5 million dollar buyout to let him go.

I think the Encarnacion trade was a one-year deal for the Yankees. It was a promising pickup, getting a veteran that has playoff experience and can pop 30+ home runs in a season. Good move for one season, but not for multiple years.

Cameron Maybin

After being picked up by the Yankees for a mere $25,000 dollars, Cameron Maybin picked up the slack that was left by the injured starters. He played in 82 games, batting .285 with 11 homers and 32 runs batted in.

It seems that Maybin already knows that he won’t be returning next season. This tweet two days after the Yankees heart-breaking loss to the Astros in Game 6 of the ALCS says it all:

New York Yankees: Should the Yankees buy out Encarnacion’s contract?

New York Yankees, Edwin Encarnacion

The New York Yankees fell shy of their ultimate goal this season – achieving their 28th World Series Championship. Raw emotions turn to harsh comments, and nobody heard more than Edwin Encarnacion in the ALCS.

Encarnacion was unbelievable during the ALDS against the Minnesota Twins. It seemed that every time he was up he was starting a rally or knocking in a runner. As everyone saw, his streak went cold and he looked lost in the ALCS against the Houston Astros.

The 36-year-old is signed to a three-year, $60 million dollar contract with a 2020 option. The Yankees could either pick him up for another year for $20 million or pay him a $5 million dollar buyout if they choose to.

The question is: do the Yankees need him as their DH?

Luke Voit, Mike Ford, and Clint Frazier are all guys (assuming they’re on the 2020 roster) that can fill the DH role.

Encarnacion, however, has one factor that makes him stand out above all those guys. He’s an MLB veteran with a boatload of experience and postseason play. Regardless of how he performed in the postseason for the Yankees this season, he still is one of the best hitters in the league and knows how to hit.

The New York Yankees will have a tough choice to make this offseason. They could either choose to go with one of their young guys or keep a veteran in their DH spot. Most likely, we’ll Encarnacion walk. I think he was a one-year guy and he’s going to find himself on another team next year.

 

New York Yankees could stick with Greg Bird for the future…again

New York Yankees, Greg Bird

The constant appreciation for long-distance lover Greg Bird seems to be the pride-driven mentality for New York Yankees general manager, Brian Cashman. His obsession with getting the lefty hitter healthy has damaged the success of the team at times and has instilled unnecessary faith in a player that can’t go half a season without picking up an injury.

Bird enjoyed just 41 at-bats last season, logging a .171 batting average. The previous three seasons have been lackluster for the first-baseman as he’s failed to breach the .200 mark. Cashman seems convinced that Bird will reach his potential one day, though, despite Luke Voit emerging as a better offensive option. Bird is still a fantastic defensive player, but utility man DJ LeMahieu also proved he could weather the storm at first base, taking value away from the position.

What is Greg Bird up to now for the New York Yankees?

The “Bird” is the word some would say. I would say, how the hell is the”Bird” still the word? The Yankees’ first baseman made his Dominican Winter League debut Tuesday night, hitting in the cleanup spot for the Gigantes Del Ciabo. Quite the change of scenery from Yankee Stadium just last year.

The 26-year-old enjoyed just first action since April 13, just before going down with a surprising plantar fascia tear in his left foot. His ten games last season forced the Bombers to stick with Voit and eventually traded for slugger, Edwin Encarnacion.

Will the Yankees finally cut Bird?

MLB Trade Rumors projects that Bird will earn $1.3 million via arbitration in 2020. Cashman could finally elect to cut ties with his long-time favorite prospect, but the string is too thin to remain attached. Bird could be using this opportunity in the Dominican league that he’s still able to compete at a high level — an audition in a sense.

The Yankees should move on from him and open up a spot on the 40-man roster for next season. They’re better off testing out a talent like pitching Deivi Garcia than taking anther flier on Greg.

 

New York Yankees couldn’t have made the ALCS without one monster player

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

Baseball is a team sport, but for the New York Yankees, it seems as if one player in particular completely willed them to the postseason and ALCS series. Utility-man DJ LeMahieu is the man of honor, finishing the year with an astounding .327 batting average, hitting 26 homers and 102 RBIs.

LeMahieu’s stellar campaign ended gloriously, attempting to drag his team back into the ALCS by the skin of his teeth. He blasted an opposite-field home run to tie the game 4-4 in the ninth-inning, giving his exhausted team a chance to fight back and find a way to secure the win.

“It kind of embodies his season — that at-bat, so good,’’ manager Aaron Boone said. “Off their closer, obviously. Just a really good battle and spoiled pitches, spoiled pitches, finally got one he could handle and ride out of there. As that at-bat’s going on, I just felt so good about him doing something. I knew he was going to put it in play hard somewhere and sure enough he did. What more can you say about the season he’s had?”

No more than 15 minutes later, Houston Astros mighty midget, Jose Altuve, hit a walk-off dinger to send them to the World Series and the Yankees back to the brisk Bronx. However, this doesn’t denounce the quality season DJ enjoyed and what he did for the team.

Ultimately, it was a harsh way to lose, and the entire tea believed they had a chance to reach the World Series. It boiled down to the bottom of the 9th inning, where Aroldis Chapman sealed the game with a hanging slider.

How impactful was DJ LeMahieu for the New York Yankees?

No matter what you say about the Yankees, LeMahieu was the best part of their season. General manager Brian Cashman struck gold on a two-year deal worth $24 million for the contact hitter. While his offense was a significant part of his success, the former Rockie’s defense is what made him a staple for the future.

Acting as a utility man, LeMahieu played nearly every position in the infield, even at first base, where he had never previously featured. Playing the entire back-end of the regular season at first with Luke Voit and Edwin Encarnacion out, DJ allowed two errors over 40 games.

Compare that to Voit, for example, who allowed seven errors over 83 games, and you see just how valuable the 30-year-old is. The Yankees grabbed a steal with the utility-man, and he will undoubtedly be a focal point moving forward. Cashman is preparing to splash the cash on premium pitching talent, which should give the team a leg up next season. Starting pitching was the downfall of the team this year.