As the Seattle Mariners continue to fall down the standings it is time for the front office to begin fielding offers for some of the team’s assets, and one player likely to be on the move sooner rather than later is Edwin Encarnacion.
Since the day the Mariners acquired Encarnacion, there have been rumors about him being shipped elsewhere. It was a mild surprise when he was with the team in spring training, but Encarnacion has been a valuable member of the lineup during his time year. While his average is low (down to .225), Encarnacion has made up for it with power (12 home runs) and his ability to get on base (.358 on-base percentage).
The fact that he’s played a passable first base this year might open up National League teams as an option for him, but right now the best fits appear to be in the American League and even in the Mariners own division.
Enter the Houston Astros. The Astros are clearly a World Series Contender, but if one were to point out a weakness in their lineup it could be argued that it is at first base. Yuli Gurriel and Tyler White seem to share the position, and while the two haven’t been awful, they don’t bring the power to the middle of the order that Encarnacion does.
Encarnacion’s contract complicates a trade to an extent, but the Mariners would clearly be willing to add some cash to the trade to get a better prospect in return. At this point, teams know that Encarnacion is available, so it comes down to need and cost. Do the Astros need Encarnacion? Maybe not, but could he be a final piece to make a World Series push? Would you rather have White or Encarnacion in the lineup of a playoff game?
Now, the Mariners understand that they aren’t going to get a blue-chip prospect for their aging slugger at this point, but they should be able to get a solid prospect if they include money in the deal.
For argument’s sake lets say the Mariners will cover half of Encarnacion’s remaining contract and will send $10 million along with him in any trade (he’s owed roughly $22 million this year, but some of that money has already been paid out, and he has a $5 million buy out for next season).
After looking at the Astros’ top 30 prospects a few names jumped out that could be deemed a fit in an Encarnacion trade: Jayson Schroeder, Cristian Javier, and Abraham Toro, who all rank in the back half of Houston’s Top 30.
Obviously, a trade would involve only one of these players and keep in mind that the team wants to be competitive by 2021 so they might be looking for a player that is closer to the big leagues than one just starting out in rookie ball. With that said here is the proposed trade:
Toro is a 22-year-old third baseman that is currently in Double A. While his defense is a work in progress, it’s the bat that has carried Toro to this point. A switch hitter with power, Toro might not be able to stick at third (he played some catcher in college and some second base in the minors in 2017), but adding a bat like Toro’s to the system would be a solid return for Encarnacion.
Maybe the Mariners would even try to make him Shed Long 2.0 and move him around the diamond to see if he can play multiple positions.
Edwin Encarnacion’s time with the Mariners is dwindling, so enjoy the parrot for a little while longer, but be more excited about the possibility of adding another potential piece for the future.