Seattle Mariners: Pursue or pass on Edwin Encarnacion?

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KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 6: Edwin Encarnacion #23 of the Chicago White Sox runs the bases after hitting a three-run home run in the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on September 6, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 6: Edwin Encarnacion #23 of the Chicago White Sox runs the bases after hitting a three-run home run in the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on September 6, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /
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Seattle Mariners Edwin Encarnacion
ANAHEIM, CA – JUNE 09: Edwin Encarnacion #10 is congratulated by Shed Long #39 and Domingo Santana #16 of the Seattle Mariners in the dugout Domingo Santana #16 of the Seattle Mariners after hitting a two run home run, his second of the game and 400th in his career, in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 9, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

37-year-old former Mariner Edwin Encarnacion is now a free agent. Should the Seattle Mariners bring him back after a disappointing 2020 season?

2020 was not kind for almost everyone and the same can be said for a lot of players in the MLB. Edwin Encarnacion was one of those who had a rough shortened season this year. The former Mariner finished 2020 with a batting line of .157/.250/.377 and a .627 OPS in 181 plate appearances. Edwin’s .157 batting average ranked third worst last year for players with over 150 plate appearances.

He spent last year with the White Sox after spending half of 2019 with the Mariners and spent the other half with the Yankees in New York after being traded for Seattle’s 14th ranked prospect Juan Then. The three-time All-Star who has seen the best years of his career in his 30’s had a team option with the White Sox but it was not picked up.

Now Edwin Encarnacion is on the open market and the Mariners could be in the market for a designated hitter after not having a true DH last season.

So, should the Mariners pursue Edwin Encarnacion?

There is one thing that needs to be addressed first when talking about Edwin Encarnacion’s value this offseason. Teams are still waiting to hear a decision between the MLB and the MLBPA on whether the universal DH will carry over into 2021.

This greatly affects Edwin Encarnacion’s value since in his last few seasons he has played almost exclusively as a DH and first baseman, and when he sees the field as a first baseman he is one of the leagues worst with a career -14.9 dWAR.

If there is no DH in the NL next season this will bring down Encarnacion’s value and if you partner that with his poor performance last season, he might have just the right price tag for the Mariners. It seems impossible that Edwin’s value will drop so low that he could be signed on a minor league contract, but the possibility is real that he could sign for a deal that is only a few million dollars, let’s say 3-5 million, and is incentive laden. If Jerry Dipoto can get the price tag down that far, I would say why not bring Encarnacion back to Seattle.

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Encarnacion’s Baseball savant page for 2020 is insanely bad but he had excellent Statcast stats in 2019, so the Mariners could hope that he could contribute as he did for them in 2019 (21 HR’s and an .888 OPS in 289 PA’s). Encarnacion’s agent would also be smart to point out to teams that he has almost always been a slow starter and his best months have traditionally been June, July, and August, which are months 3-5 of the season, and last season was only 2 months.

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