Seattle Mariners: Edwin Encarnacion Trade Profile, Houston Astros

SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 1: Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Cleveland Indians rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run off or starting pitcher Mike Leake #8 of the Seattle Mariners during the fourth inning of a game at Safeco Field on April 1, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 1: Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Cleveland Indians rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run off or starting pitcher Mike Leake #8 of the Seattle Mariners during the fourth inning of a game at Safeco Field on April 1, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /
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After the Seattle Mariners traded Carlos Santana for Edwin Encarnacion and a draft pick, the essentially rebaited the trade hook with Encarnacion. But who might be interested in the aging slugger?

After initial reports suggested the Mariners would be sending the slugger to Tampa Bay in a separate deal, the idea was quickly dismissed by Tampa Bay beat writers. Since there have been no whispers of a deal since Thursday, I think we can consider them to be out, at least for now.

Since Nelson Cruz is still on the market, it will make more sense for teams to continue to pursue him in a deal, since he will cost less money and no prospects will need to change hands. But after he comes off the market, Encarnacion still has value to a big league team, especially if the Mariners eat some money.

Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto won’t necessarily have to shop E5 to only American League teams, but he is a drastically better fit for a team who can deploy him as a DH. When looking for teams who could upgrade at DH, we basically just need to follow the Nelson Cruz market. Most teams with an interest in Nelson Cruz would, theoretically, have an interest in Encarnacion.

One such team rumored to be interested in Cruz are the division rival Houston Astros. If the Astros miss out on Cruz, Encarnacion makes a good deal of sense.

Unfortunately, the Astros don’t have the deepest pockets and have just one “salary dump” candidate to consider. The only candidate for a “contract swap” is outfielder Josh Reddick. Encarnacion is due $20 million in 2019, and Reddick is due $26 million total for 2019 and 2020.

On the surface, Reddick doesn’t make much sense for Seattle. The Mariners appear to have their starting OF in place for 2019 and are specifically looking to add a right-handed hitting outfielder to compliment Ben Gamel in LF. Reddick is an LHH.

Reddick is also coming off a down season in 2018 in which he slashed a paltry .242/.318/.400 with 17 home runs, a 99 wRC+, and a 1.1 fWAR. However, Reddick’s walk rate was a career high, and his K rate was right in line with his career norms.

In addition, Reddick was great in 2017, posting a .314/.363/.484 slash and a 128 wRC+. Whether 2018 was an outlier or the new norm would be the job of Mariners scouts to find an answer too, but it seems unlikely Reddick would fall off that severely in 1 year.

The Mariners have also shown a willingness to bet on proven players coming off a bad year in their deals this off-season, acquiring the likes of Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak, Carlos Santana, and Encarnacion.

With the Mariners shipping Encarnacion off in this proposal, there would appear to be an opening at 1B or DH if the team is wanting to move on from Ryon Healy and Dan Vogelbach. Banking on Reddick regaining value to be dealt in July is a viable strategy, but it remains unlikely Seattle would have much interest.

However, the Astros have plenty of prospects that would catch Dipoto’s eyes and if he is willing to send some cash to Houston, he may add a quality piece or two to the revamped farm system. Here is our proposal:

There are 3 prospects that seem to be Dipoto type of guys: Tyler Ivey, Peter Solomon, and Alex McKenna. Ivey and Solomon are both RHP who have the raw stuff to stick in a rotation but may be forced to move to the bullpen. For Ivey, there are concerns about the amount of effort in his delivery which may give him issues with stamina and getting through the order multiple times.

Solomon is a 6’4″, 200 lbs RHP who was a 4th round pick out of Notre Dame in 2017. A fast riser, Solomon flashes 3 above-average pitches and a fourth, the changeup, which is a usable offering. He struggled with his control in college, but the Astros have refined his mechanics and the results have been evident.

Solomon struck out 114 batters in 100.2 innings and walked just 32 hitters. He will likely be MLB ready by 2020 or sooner if he continues to show improvement in his control. He will likely never have pinpoint control but should have the stuff to compensate.

Finally, Alex McKenna, the 4th round pick of the 2018 draft who flashes average tools across the board. While his bat profiles best in center field, he may not be able to stick in pro ball. He has good instincts and first-step quickness, so you shouldn’t rule out the possibility he can stick.

McKenna is another fast riser, who should start 2019 in A or High A ball and could see MLB time by late 2020. The hit tool has the potential to be above-average, as McKenna has a solid approach and good bat speed, so he may tap into some raw power to hit a dozen or more homers.

Any of these 3 players would be a nice coup for Dipoto and would slot inside the Top 15 Mariners prospects with a chance to help the club by 2020 or 2021. Perhaps the only way to get one of these players is to take on Reddick’s contract, but it may be a risk worth taking.

Next. Are the Mariners Actually Going to be Bad in 2019?. dark

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