The Ludicrous Worrisome of Free Agents Encarnacion and Bautista
Aside from the three blockbuster trades during the Winter Meetings, this offseason has been about the Toronto free agents. Like always, there are all kinds of talks happening on the hot stove during the baseball offseason. However, basically everyday, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista are names that are brought up.
Of the small free agent market, these two guys (superstars) are by far the biggest fish. For at least the past 4 seasons this dynamic duo has been ripping up the AL East. Yet, everyone is skeptical on signing either one. Thanks to the new CBA deal, teams are worried about going over the salary cap of $195 million. So, they don’t want to shell out $80 million to Encarnacion. Bautista’s case is put under a microscope for his age and recent injuries. What teams are overlooking is the fact that these two sluggers are animals at the plate!
Since 2010 they have combined for a slugging percentage of .535. Within that statistic they have gathered 480 home runs over a combined 14 years in Toronto since 2010; that’s a Hall of Fame career. Since 2010 they have averaged to have a combined WAR of 8.8 yearly. Teams like the Indians, Cardinals, Orioles, Yankees, and Blue Jays have all been said to be suitors for either of these guys. There were more suitors earlier in the offseason, but those teams, like the Royals and Boston, went with cheaper options.
Every team is chasing the Cubs now for the World Series trophy. There are several teams like that are one step away from being able to defeat the Cubs. Well guess what? Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista are that last step. Since that 2010 mark both players combined have created a mere 200 runs for the Jays a year. Now, it is unlikely they will both end up signing with the same team, but alone they are still dominant.
Encarnacion is 3 years younger and in better health than Bautista, but is looking for a bigger contract. The Cubs won the World Series title for many reasons. One of those reasons was the big hits from big-time sluggers. Encarnacion has a game changing bat. Since 2012 Edwin has crushed 34+ homers every season as well as knocking in 98+ runs. Also since 2012, Encarnacion’s lowest OWn%* has been .635; that’s 102 wins! Those NL squads who are considering him shouldn’t worry about his ability to play 1st base. His career range factor is actually above league average. His counter part though has declining defense.
Aside from his age and injuries, lots of teams are worried about Bautista’s declining defense. Sure, statistically his defense has come down some, but he still is only committing 3 or less errors a season. His fielding percentage is still around 98% too. Bautista’s value comes at the plate. Despite playing in only 116 games this past season and batting .234, his OBP was still impeccable at .366. Since his breakout season in 2010 Bautista has a yearly OPS+ of 148. In 2014 and 2015 Bautista finished top 10 in the MVP voting. His low .234 batting average means nothing when his SecA was .423. All in all, this guy is a stud. He may have a risk playing in less than 120 games, but it has never been due to serious injury. Bottom line, when Bautista is in the lineup he produces at a high level just like Encarnacion does.
The postseason is about pitching well under pressure and getting big hits. Both of these premier sluggers are flat out monsters. All they do is collect big hits. Encarnacion deserves that $80 million contract without a doubt, maybe even more. And Bautista should be getting upwards of $18 million/year. The fact that suitors are dropping like flys is the definition of ludicrous.
*OWn%: winning percentage of a team with 9 clones of that player in the lineup