Six implications of the Edwin Encarnacion trade
News broke last night that the Yankees had made their first splash of the summer trade season by acquiring slugger Edwin Encarnacion from the Seattle Mariners. Encarnacion is the American League home run leader and will be a welcomed addition to the team he has hit well against over the course of his career. To many including myself, this trade was very fuzzy at first glance. The Yankees did not have a need to acquire an offensive player, especially when their pitching has been their weakness, thus far. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton’s imminent returns further blurred the reasoning behind this trade. However, after further thought, I have come up with six implications that result from this trade, all of which help make sense of this move.
Clint Frazier has become very expendable
One of the Yankees’ top trade chips potentially has nowhere to play following this acquisition. With Judge and Stanton set to return, and Maybin and Gardner’s speed and defense being solid complements to the Yankees’ big boppers, Frazier appears to be on the outside looking in. Adding to the Yankees’ depth makes giving up Frazier in a potential trade less of a blow to the major league team.
Giancarlo Stanton will see extended time in the outfield
Encarnacion’s main position is at the DH spot, which means that Giancarlo Stanton will now see some more time in the outfield. The Yankees will rotate guys out to keep them fresh, but Stanton will likely play in the outfield 2-3 time more per week than he did prior to the trade. Despite the angry fans’ pleas last season, Stanton is not a liability defensively, but it will be an adjustment with his main position now being left field.
DJ LeMahieu will see more time at third base and Gio Urshela’s playing time will decrease
LeMahieu keeps seeing players come in whether off the injured list or from trade, but he will not see his playing time dwindle as Boone has already proclaimed. Prior to the trade LeMahieu was considered the backup first baseman, but Encarnacion has played there a lot this season and will slide into that role behind Voit. This makes LeMahieu a prime candidate to see his reps at third base increase 1-2 times per week, in order to keep his bat in the lineup. However, this will come at the expense of Gio Urshela. Urshela should still see an ample amount of playing time, but it will not be at the same magnitude it was at before the trade.
The Yankees have given up on Greg Bird
The Yankees were wary about carrying two first basemen on their roster at the beginning of the season, but will not hesitate to do so with how Edwin Encarnacion and Luke Voit have produced in 2019. Barring an injury or trade and a miraculous comeback by the 2015 slugger, this all but spells the end of Greg Bird possibly contributing this season. This also further opens up the opportunity for Bird to be dealt, if he is desired by another ball club.
The Yankees now have the depth to move a starting position player
Similarly to what was discussed earlier in regards to Frazier, adding another potent bat makes it so the Yankees now have the power to move a player entrenched into the everyday lineup. While it is not obvious who they would move, it does at the very least make it so there is more flexibility in trade talks. Luke Voit, Gio Urshela, Thairo Estrada (who is currently in Triple-A), and Aaron Hicks, if someone was willing to take his contract, are a few names that come to mind.
The Yankees are only starting to make moves
With Yankees’ Twitter screaming for pitching, this move solidifies the fact there is another move in the works. The team’s extra depth will make more players available and result in potentially better offers, and the Yankees do not owe Encarnacion nothing but just a small portion of his salary, meaning that they still have payroll flexibility to take on an arm. The front office is not delusional. They know that the Bronx Bombers need some arms, but just because the team's first deal is not for the main position of need, does not mean it won't be addressed with time. The Mariners are clearly selling and did not have a steep price for their slugger, so the Yankees took the opportunity and pounced.
Article by: Ryan ThomsFollow @RyanThoms_