After learning that Carlos Beltran would sign with the Houston Astros, the Yankees would be wise to save their millions, instead of spending big on a DH.
I’ll the first to admit, I didn’t want to see the Yankees bring the 39-year-old Beltran back into the fold, only months after jettisoning him to Texas. And while I’m not surprised that he inevitably chose the Astros to play for at one year and $16M, I’m honestly shocked and a bit appalled that they agreed to include a no-trade clause in his contract. I guess the rich do get richer.
Beltran was wise to beat fellow free agent designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion to the punch. He set the standard price for one-year DH’s. And by taking the Astros out of the equation, Encarnacion loses a ton of leverage. Gone is what many thought to be the predominate club in need of his services. Sure, the Yankees now have top billing as suitor-extraordinaire, but the boys in the Bronx also have the right to set a quota for the 34-year-old and not go any higher.
Before I get any further into this article, for those that feel Encarnacion can act as a security blanket for Greg Bird at first base, should he struggle after missing a full season due to shoulder surgery, keep this in mind — Encarnacion hasn’t played more than 80 games at first base in a season in over five years. Don’t you think that Encarnacion’s strict DH’ing has had a lot to do with his ability to stay mostly healthy — keeping his potent bat in the lineup.
Let’s say for argument’s sake that the Yankees do sign Encarnacion (I swear, if it’s for anything like 5-years, $90M, I’m going to lose it!), and he does his job of protecting Gary Sanchez in the lineup as a cleanup hitter — great, the Yankees win 4, 5 more games in 2017. But what does his presence on the club mean for Tyler Austin — a guy many in the organization want to see get plenty of important at-bats. That’s simply not going to happen as a platoon outfielder.
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What about at first base, you say? Well, here we go again with the whole Greg Bird debate. Everyone’s sweetheart from 2015, no one really knows what to expect from him this time around. So what if it does take him some time to get going, a la Mark Teixeira (who never hit in the cool early months). Then what? It’s really hard to break out of a slump from the bench. Just ask Alex Rodriguez about that from last season.
Hopefully, Bird picks up right where he left off on the big league stage and the Yankees have their first baseman for the next ten years or so. But then we’re right back to that overpaid mid-30’s DH scenario I’ve been trying to warn you about.
I simply feel it’s in the best interests of the Yankees to continue on this merry rebuild that Brian Cashman and company started out on last Aug. 1. This is still a team with enough question marks to fill the Riddler’s costume.
Continue to purge the bad contracts, add to the fantastic farm system so that if a once in a lifetime type trade does present itself, you’re ready — and just be patient, would ya!
As the new luxury tax increases, and the future free agent pool floods with higher echelon talent, the Yankees will be closer to adding those one or two pieces that get’s them over the proverbial hump back into the bright lights of October baseball.
As it stands today, Encarnacion would obviously be an upgrade to the Yankees’ everyday lineup. But at what future costs (both figuratively and monetarily)? This club needs a lockdown closer, a starting pitcher with high upside — for Aaron Judge to produce, a steady leadoff hitter, and then maybe we can talk about adding a strict all-hit, no-field DH.
Until then, I don’t want to hear about the Yankees’ chances of signing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado in 2019, or Mickey — I mean Mike Trout in 2020. Let’s take one day at a time and try not to overreact.