Yankees: Will they bring back Edwin Encarnacion in 2020?


When the Yankees acquired Edwin Encarnacion from the Mariners, he was seen as a luxury. However, when healthy he’s been an integral part of the club — one that could very well be brought back next season.

On Monday night, Edwin Encarnacion attended C.C. Sabathia’s PitCChin Foundation and offered a positive update to the NY Post on his potential return to the Yankees lineup.

"“I’m almost ready,” Encarnacion said at the event. “I don’t know if I’ll be 100 percent this week, but I think I’m at 80 percent.”"

Despite not swinging a bat since injuring his left oblique last Thursday, the 36-year-old slugger is eager to get back in the lineup in time for the postseason.

With the Yankees magic number at three to clinch the AL East, manager Aaron Boone will need to be careful with the three-time All-Star, for fear of further aggravating the muscle.

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However, as Encarnacion has proven in the 44 games that he’s donned the iconic pinstripes, he’s still a force to be reckoned with. Across 177 at-bats, The Parrot has 13 home runs, 37 RBIs and a .856 OPS. Before landing on the shelf, Encarnacion was on fire to begin September, driving in 10 runs in the month’s first eight contests.

When combined with what he did in 65 games in Seattle, Encarnacion has scored 81 runs, slugged 34 homers, 86 RBIs and boasts a .875 OPS. Not too shabby for a player acquired as an injury insurance policy.

Because baseball is a “what have you done for me lately” type of sport, for the Yankees to pick up the $20 million option (or $5M buyout) on Encarnacion’s contract in 2020, it will likely depend on his contribution in the postseason.

MLB’s luxury tax is set at $208 million next season, so only time will tell how far over the threshold general manager Brian Cashman and company are willing to go — especially when adding at least one starting pitcher this winter is a must.

As of now, Gerrit Cole, Madison Bumgarner, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Jake Odorizzi and possibly Stephen Strasburg (if he opts out) headline a stellar crop of free-agent arms.

A decision must also be made on whether or not to retain Dellin Betances and Didi Gregorius, both of whom are set to hit the open market for the first time in their careers.

Entering his age-37 season, Encarnacion will have hit 30+ home runs in nine straight seasons. Though he has averaged less than 128 games per season during that time, at the right price, there’s little doubt Encarnacion can still contribute at a high-rate, even as a defender.

In 57 games (489 innings) at first base, Encarnacion has only committed two errors across 461 chances. Though he may not be quite as nimble around the bag as he once was — evidenced by his -6 Rtot, his ability is still comparable to Luke Voit’s developing defense (eight errors and a -9 Rtot in 648.1 innings).

Should the Yankees decide to keep Miguel Andujar this winter, the infield (and DH position) will still be crowded next season. With D.J. LeMahieu signed for one more year at $12M, and Gio Urshela, Mike Ford (minor league options remaining) and Voit combining for a little over $1.5M in salary, a buyout and subsequent signing of Encarnacion for far less than the $20M option would be necessary.

Next. D.J. LeMahieu deserves a contract extension. dark

However, if Gregorius is allowed to leave via free agency, Andujar is potentially dealt for a pitcher and question marks continue to surround the viability of Giancarlo Stanton (and now Voit), then bringing back Encarnacion does make sense.

But again, no decision should be made until shoring up the starting rotation has been addressed.