The top five hitters over the last five years in baseball, per offensive WAR, is obviously an impressive bunch.
Mike Trout tops the list, of course, but he's ifollowed by Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Andrew McCutchen, and Paul Goldschmidt.
No. 6 is Edwin Encarnacion.
So why is it that Eddie still a free agent?
Is it because he's primarily a DH? Because he's actually an above-average first baseman — posting the 10th best UZR among all first basemen who have played 1,000 innings or more in the last two years. So while Encarnacion is probably best suited for the American League, he's not off-limits for an NL team.
Is it because he's 34, and history has not been kind to similar players once they turn 34? That's understandable, to a degree: Encarnacion's increase in strikeouts last year (they jumped 25 percent) and decreased fly-ball rate (after a down 2015) are red flags that have clearly tampered his market.
But that was in a Blue Jays lineup that needed Encarnacion to do one thing: mash. Would he change for the better in a different lineup?
And perhaps Encarnacion is a better player than those comparables — Carlos Delgato and Lance Berkman, et al. — he might be closer to David Ortiz, who posted a .935 OPS from ages 34 to 38.
Here's what we do know: Encarnacion is going to get a long-term deal — age is the chief concern amongst teams, so he has to get the term this go-around; things are only going to get worse if he signs a massive one-year deal and hits the market again next year — but he probably won't get anywhere close to the reported four-year, $80 million deal the Blue Jays offered in November.
So who is going to sign him? There have been a number of teams that have leaked interest this offseason.
Here are his possible landing spots, ranked by
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A great way for your offensive stats to not diminish in the latter stage of your career is to play at Coors Field.
The Rockies look like they want to spend some money this offseason: They signed Ian Desmond to play first base, but they could certainly move Charlie Blackmon in a trade, put Desmond in the outfield, and bring in Encarnacion to play the position.
Pitching is always going to be the issue in Colorado, but if you can score 950 runs a season, you can get by with some pretty poor pitching.
USA TODAY SportsKevin Jairaj
The Astros have more than enough designated hitters to go around, but what they really need is a first baseman.
Suffice it to say that Yulieski Gurriel is probably not going to get the job done there.
There was a report that Encarnacion had signed for 5 years and $115 million with the Astros, which is preposterous, but there is clearly interest and need. (That tweet is still up, by the way.)
But here's the real question: are the Astros willing to put up the cash?
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Seattle has the cash. The need isn't necessarily there — though they don't necessarily have an everyday first baseman for next year — but could you imagine a 1-through-5 of Jean Segura, Kyle Seager; Robinson Canoe, Nelson Cruz, and Edwin Encarnacion?
We'll have those potatoes mashed, thank you.
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Toronto Blue Jays
Encarnacion has already been replaced in Toronto, as the Jays signed Kendrys Morales to a 3-year, $33 million deal at the start of free agency.
But if Encarnacion's price-point plummets (it's hard to read where it's at now) the Jays should still be interested in bringing Encarnacion back.
They might have filled the DH spot, but first base is still wide open.
And it's not as if the Jays didn't reportedly offer $20 million a year one month ago.
Getty ImagesTom Szczerbowski
It's a simple question: would you rather have Mark Trumbo or Edwin Encarnacion?
Eddie's market is going to determine how much Trumbo can command in his free agency, but Trumbo's number has to plateau at some point — we'll go no lower than $14 million a year — Encarnacion's number might be closer to Trumbo's than one might think.
So what's the delta between the two players? Pretty large, if you ask me.
The Orioles might be able to upgrade here by getting ahead of the market.
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Obviously, the A's can use all the help they can get, but this is a classic Moneyball move:
A player's market is compressed and the A's see that he's reached a price-point that makes sense for them.
They love bargains, and sometimes other GMs can overthink this stuff.
Even if the A's would just move Encarnacion for prospects in July or next offseason, it says something about Eddie's market that Oakland is interested in putting in a bid.
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St. Louis Cardinals
How else are the Cardinals going to catch the Cubs? They spent money on Dexter Fowler — who I believe is due for a regression year — so why not roll the dice twice with Encarnacion?
St. Louis could certainly use a .263/.357/ .529 hitter at first base. Matt Carpenter might be there now, but St. Louis could move him to second (or third) and put Kolton Wong in a utility role that might suit him better.
It's a simple switch, and now the Cardinals have added two 4-win players from last year.
If both Fowler and Encarnacion thrive (Encarnacion might enjoy National League pitching), the Cardinals aren't that far behind Chicago, and they're certainly favorites to reach the Wild Card game in the National League.
If they both fail, at least the Cardinals went for it.
With Encarnacion's market price diminishing isn't that a risk worth taking?
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New York Yankees
Are the Yankees rebuilding?
Are they in win-now mode?
You could make the case that either is happening in the Brox.
If the latter is the case — the signings of Aroldis Chapman and Matt Holliday being the torchbearers there — then signing a guy like Encarnacion makes all the sense in the world.
It's not like Aaron Judge has a flawless swing or the Yankees lack the money, after all.
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Carlos Santana cannot play first base and DH simultaneously next year.
The Indians have a clear need for a power-hitting 1B/DH, and while they'd like to bring back Mike Napoli, the market for him is going to be set by Encarnacion, and you could argue easily that in the short term, Eddie is an upgrade.
The Indians are cash strapped, so a long-term signing is a highly risky endeavor for the Tribe, but surely there's some extra World Series t-shirt money laying around.
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The Rangers need to do the thing in 2017 — Yu Darvish and Jonathan Lucroy are both in walk years. This might be Texas' last-best chance to win a title with this core of players.
And adding a player like Encarnacion to the middle of the Rangers' lineup to augment Adrian Beltre and offset some of the power lost with Mitch Moreland and Ian Desmond leaving in free agency would be a significant boon to the Rangers' title hopes.
Sorry, but Ryan Rua isn't going to be the first baseman of a pennant winning team.
The Rangers need another middle-of-the-lineup bat and have two spots Encarnacion can fill (unless you're sold on Joey Gallo, in which case, we can't help you here.)
The need is there in more ways than one, the money can be found too. Texas is an excellent match.