Yankees to decline Edwin Encarnacíon’s option
Teams and players have until five days after the World Series to decide on team and player options, but they certainly are not required to take that much time. The Yankees have made one of the early decisions. On Thursday it was announced that New York will decline the team option for Edwin Encarnacíon, who now heads to free agency. The slugger was acquired for next to nothing by the Yankees in mid-June, and including his time in Seattle he hit .244/.344/.531 for a 132 OPS+. He was due to make $20 million in 2020. Encarnacíon has been perhaps baseball’s most consistent power hitter over the last eight years, smashing at least 32 homers every year with an OPS+ of at least 128 in all but one season. That said, he is mostly just a DH at this point, is heading into his age-37 season and is coming off a brutal ALCS. That last part doesn’t mean much, but it is our last memory of him. The Yankees, with Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andújar theoretically returning to full health, have enough power to survive without Encarnacíon and will presumably put the money they’d pay him towards rotation help.
Sox Spin: This is big for the Red Sox on two fronts. For one, obviously their biggest rival is letting a very good hitter go. Again, they have the pieces to make this work as long as they stay healthy, but this is a significant loss even if it’s the right move. On top of that, Encarnacíon could very well be a target for Boston this winter. If J.D. Martinez does indeed opt out, they’ll have an opening for a DH, and one who can play some first base would make some sense as well. It remains to be seen how much they’d be willing to commit to that position if Martinez even does opt out, but this could serve as a double blow to the Yankees.
Royals hire Mike Matheny
Another manager vacancy has been filled. On Thursday, as has been expected for some time now, the Royals hired Mike Matheny as their next manager. As many probably remember, Matheny previously managed the Cardinals before being fired during the 2018 season. He does not exactly have the best reputation, making questionable on-field decisions while also having some clubhouse issues on his watch. Most notably, veterans and young players had real tension during his time in St. Louis, and at least from the outside Matheny handled it terribly. That does not seem to be ideal for a Kansas City team that is in a rebuild. On the other hand, we’ve seen time and again that managers are much better in their second stop than their first. This will be Matheny’s second managerial gig.
Sox Spin: Nothing, really. The Royals are not really competition in the American League and don’t figure to be for at least a few years.