December, 22nd 2016 at 8:46pm.
At that moment the baseball landscape in Cleveland, and the entire baseball world was changed due to one move the Indians made.
The 2016 Indians came within one game, and one run of winning their first World Series since 1948. Following the loss to the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs the baseball world was a buzz on what would the Indians do to improve the club. Team leader in home runs(34) and runs batted in(101) Mike Napoli entered free agency. Michael Brantley plays in 11 games in 2016 following his second shoulder surgery. Carlos Carrasco suffers a broken hand; while Danny Salazar was out of action due to a strained right flexor muscle until the World Series. Not to mention silver slugging catcher Yan Gomes is coming off of his worst year as an Indians player batting .167, .201 on-base percentage, with 69 strikeouts in 251 at-bats.
With questions about the players returning from injury along with whether or not the Party at Napoli’s would be back for another year. The Indians needed to strike while the iron was hot, and keep the fan base excited for the upcoming 2017 season. While the nightmare signings of Michael Bourn(four-year $48M) and Nick Swisher(four-year $56M) still loom large over the fans. They still wanted to see the Indians front office make an impact move for a World Series contending team. With names like Jose Baustista, Mark Trumbo, Mike Napoli, and other power-hitting right-handed bats available in free agency. The Indians had their pick of the group of who they wanted to target, and eventually land this off-season. Reports were rampant during the winter meetings that took place in National Harbor, Maryland on who would sign where, and for how much.
The winter meetings came and went with no major league signings by the Indians. Reports of a possible return of Napoli, or even a new bat entering the lineup was discussed, but didn’t come true until December 22nd.
Indians get EE
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 23, 2016
The Indians give Edwin Encarnacion a three-year $60 million contract, with an option to either buyout Encarnacion’s 4th year for $5 million or give him $20 million for this 4th, and final year with the Indians. A move that fits the need the Indians had, but also a move a lot in baseball thought wouldn’t happen. The infamous “small market” Indians spending $20 million per year on one player is an outrageous idea to think of, but no more can that thought come to mind. President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti, and General Manager Mike Chernoff make the signing of the off-season. Given the thumbs up from owners Larry & Paul Dolan, both Antonetti and Chernoff gave the fans an early Christmas gift.
Encarnacion is a career .266 hitter, 310 home runs, and 942 runs batted in. In his eight years in Toronto Encarnacion averaged 30 home runs, 85 runs batted in. Encarnacion between the age of 29-33 hit 193 home runs(62% of his career HRs), drove in 550 runs(58% of his career RBIs). Encarnacion is a three-time all-star and the reigning AL RBI leader.
Over the past five seasons Encarnacion has been one of the most consistent power bats in the entire MLB, and looks to continue that production with the Indians. In the past six seasons Encarnacion has never played less than 128 games, and in over 140 in four out of the last six seasons. Over the last three seasons Encarnacion has had 1,606 at bats with 1,513 of those at-bats coming from the three or four hole in the order. With that amount of consistency in either of those spots in the lineup the Indians’ potential 2017 opening day lineup could look like this.
- Carlos Santana
- Jason Kipnis
- Francisco Lindor
- Edwin Encarnacion
- Michael Brantley
- Jose Ramirez
- Lonnie Chisenhall
- Yan Gomes
- Tyler Naquin.
The time is now for the Cleveland Indians, and their fans to witness a winner. Witness the Indians raise the World Series championship for the first time since 1948. Witness the city of Cleveland continue their winning ways from the Cleveland Cavaliers winning back in June, and even from their own winning by making it to the World Series. 2017 will be the year of the Cleveland Indians.
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leave a comment on your thoughts, and what team do you think “time is now” in MLB.