The Indians are discussing a multi-year contract with slugger Edwin Encarnacion, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Cleveland’s interest in Encarnacion was first reported earlier today, and it appears as though the Tribe has more than just a cursory interest — talks are “serious,” Hoynes writes, though there’s no indication that the two sides are close to any sort of agreement. With Mike Napoli a free agent, the Tribe have been connected to several first basemen this offseason, though Encarnacion (the top first base option on the market) was widely considered to be beyond Cleveland’s financial reach. When asked if this was the case, however, Indians director of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said “you don’t have to curb expectations. We are being exhaustive in exploring options to improve our position player club.” A source tells Hoynes that the Tribe’s run to Game 7 of the World Series may have generated as much as $48MM in extra revenue for the club, which could provide Antonetti and company with some unexpected payroll flexibility. It could be something of a perfect storm for Cleveland, as the team’s extra money coincides with a possible downturn in Encarnacion’s market — potential suitors like the Blue Jays, Astros, Yankees have acquired other players, while the Red Sox and Rangers have both shown only lukewarm interest. The draft pick compensation tied to Encarnacion (due to his rejection of the Jays’ qualifying offer) has also reportedly factored into his relatively quiet market, and giving up the 27th overall pick of the 2017 draft to sign Encarnacion is surely a major consideration for the Indians as well.
There’s plenty of bullpen chatter circulating as the Winter Meetings get underway. Here’s the latest… The latest updates on Mark Melancon last night revealed that the three-time All-Star has received multiple four-year offers, potentially in excess of $60MM in some cases. The Nationals have indeed made a four-year offer to closer Mark Melancon, according to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, but their offer was for less than $60MM guaranteed. That makes a reunion look unlikely for now, barring an increase in the offer from the Nats. FanRag’s Jon Heyman writes that Melancon is the Giants’ top target, and Greg Holland could be their primary alternative, as opposed to either Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen. Heyman feels it’s unlikely that they’d pursue either Jansen or Chapman if they fall to land Melancon.
The draft pick forfeiture that is attached to Edwin Encarnacion has been hampering his market, reports ESPN’s Jayson Stark. The lack of a draft pick attached to Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday made them more attractive short-term options for the Astros and Yankees, and Stark calls Encarnacion a “textbook case for why the union made eliminating first-round draft-pick compensation such a top priority” in the recent CBA negotiations. Here’s the latest on Encarnacion’s market… Toronto’s signing of Steve Pearce “certainly” spells the end of Encarnacion’s time in Toronto, tweets Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. On paper, it’s possible to see Pearce, Encarnacion, Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak coexisting on the same roster, but certainly there’s some redundancy there. The Indians have checked in on Encarnacion, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). Cleveland definitely has a need at first base with Mike Napoli hitting free agency, and Encarnacion could split time there and at DH with Carlos Santana. However, financial constraints are always a factor for the Indians, and while they’re coming off a deep World Series run, spending at the likely levels that are necessary to sign Encarnacion would represent a significant departure from past tendencies for Cleveland. ESPN’s Jim Bowden reports that the Rangers are also a team to watch on Encarnacion, noting that GM Jon Daniels has a history of acting opportunistically when a player’s market changes. Bowden, too, calls Cleveland a sleeper team in the Encarnacion sweepstakes. He also floats the idea of Encarnacion following the path of Yoenis Cespedes from last winter: signing a three-year deal with a high annual value and an opt-out clause after the first year
What do you give the man who has pretty much everything? Bud Selig received one additional touch Sunday when he learned he’ll be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on his 83rd birthday — July 30, 2017.
The Yankees made a quick strike to land a bat on the eve of baseball’s Winter Meetings, agreeing to terms with outfielder/designated hitter Matt Holliday on a one-year, $13 million contract. The club has not confirmed the report.
Commissioner emeritus Allan H. (Bud) Selig and longtime Braves executive John Schuerholz are headed to Cooperstown.
SUNDAY: The Marlins might be the mystery team vying for Melancon, writes FanRag’s Jon Heyman. Despite its payroll limitations, Miami is committed to building an elite bullpen and is also chasing Jansen, as Heyman first reported last month, and Chapman. As of a couple weeks ago, the Marlins were “highly unlikely” to land Chapman, per one of his associates. SATURDAY, 9:49pm: Melancon has four-year offers worth upward of $60MM from the Giants, Nationals and perhaps one other team, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Giants have likely made the strongest offer, tweets Rosenthal.
The Indians remain interested in re-signing free agent first baseman/designated hitter Mike Napoli, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, who tweets that Chris Carter, Mitch Moreland and Adam Lind are also on the team’s radar. Napoli was a key member of the American League champions’ offense in 2016, as he hit .239/.335/.465 with 34 home runs in 645 plate appearances. The 35-year-old did that on a palatable $7MM salary, but given the wide interest in him across the majors, a raise is likely. While Napoli is reportedly seeking a three-year deal, the Indians once again want to give him a one-year pact. As a powerful, high-strikeout, right-handed hitter who provides negative defensive and baserunning value, Carter is quite similar to Napoli. Carter’s also younger (he’ll turn 30 next week) and, on the heels of the Brewers cutting him in lieu of paying him an estimated $8.1MM salary, could come at a cheaper cost than Napoli. Carter’s production last season in Milwaukee was right in line with Napoli’s, as he slashed .222/.321/.499 and amassed a National League-high 41 homers in 644 trips to the plate.
Free agency has delivered plenty of action at the annual convention over the years. Here’s a look at times when free agency had the biggest impact on the Winter Meetings:
Talks between free agent center fielder Ian Desmond and the Rangers have “intensified” lately, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports writes (Twitter links). Desmond is likely to receive a four-year deal, Morosi adds. Desmond rejected the Rangers’ qualifying offer last month (as was expected), but it appears he’s ready to listen to other proposals to return to the Rangers, perhaps for a longer term. Desmond hit well for the Rangers in 2016, batting .285/.335/.446 while transitioning fairly seamlessly from shortstop to the outfield. He also impressed the team on a personal level, with GM Jon Daniels saying in October that he appreciated Desmond’s behavior “as a person and [with] the consistency he brought from that standpoint.” Desmond therefore is in a much stronger position this offseason than he was last year, when he settled for a mere $8MM guarantee after batting .233/.290/.384 in his last year in Washington. MLBTR has predicted that Desmond will receive four years and $60MM on his next contract. The Rangers are in need of a center fielder after losing both Desmond and Carlos Gomez to free agency. They’ll have to set themselves apart from what might be a large group of suitors to get Desmond back, though, as he’s already reportedly attracted interest from the Nationals, Orioles and Blue Jays.