Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Could Overbay trade open door for Encarnacion move?Posted by Evan Brunell
The Globe and Mail's Jeff Blair tweeted Tuesday that Lyle Overbay was 90 percent likely to be traded at the winter meetings. Assuming that the return for Overbay is not a first-baseman or left-fielder, this trade could open up a switch for Edwin Encarnacion.
While Encarnacion is coming off a poor year beseiged by injuries, he remains capable of knocking 20-plus homeruns out of the park. With a career average of .260 with a .341 on-base percentage (.272/.351 if you throw out 2009 and his rookie year) he still has inherent value and may have a couple All-Star caliber years in him... or more accurately, in his bat.
Just entering his age 27 season, EdE is a veritable disaster as a third-baseman. We all know this. He's been needing to be moved off the position for years now. In the trade to Toronto (Scott Rolen to the Reds in July 2009 for Encarnacion and pitching prospects), Encarnacion's prospects seemingly expanded with the designated hitter role available to him in the American League. However, could the team opt to keep him in the field, and have it simply not be at third base?
If the Blue Jays aren't ready to label him a career designated hitter (which would also kill his personal value to other teams), the logical thing to do is to move him to first base or left field. Trading Overbay will obviously open first base, but it could open left field as well, assuming that Adam Lind shifts to first base. While I make no promises that Encarnacion can become at least an average defender at either position, it's obvious that for him to extend his career and get his bat in the lineup, he has to move. Third base is not the solution. First base and left field are only logical. Heck, I've heard rumblings about stashing him in right field, which would take advantage of what seems to be a strong arm.
Due to make $4.75 million in 2010, EdE is not going anywhere, and Toronto's not going to outright release him and eat all that money without trying to get value back in their Encarnacion investment. If they want to turn EdE into a valuable contributor, they need to move him off third. The trade of Overbay may allow the Jays to do just that.
Evan Brunell is currently editor of Fire Brand of the American League, a Red Sox blog he began in 2003. He also scores games at Fenway Park for MLB. He was the co-founder and president of MVN, an independent sports media web site.