Encarnacion takes wing to Cleveland: reports

Free-agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion has reportedly signed with the Cleveland Indians. Multiple reports Thursday night said the deal was for a guaranteed $60 million US over three years.

1B/DH tallied 42 homers, 127 RBI in 2016

Free agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion, seen above celebrating his game-winning walk-off home run against the Baltimore Orioles in the American League wild-card game in October, has reportedly signed a three-year contract with Cleveland. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press)

Free-agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion has reportedly signed with the Cleveland Indians.

Multiple reports Thursday night said the deal was for a guaranteed $60 million US over three years, including a $5 million buyout. There is also an option year valued at $25 million that would bring the total value to $80 million, as per FOX's Ken Rosenthal.

The agreement is contingent upon Encarnacion passing a physical, two people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not made an announcement.

The physical is not expected until after the holidays.

Encarnacion hit .263 last season with 42 home runs and 127 runs batted in with the Blue Jays. It was the fifth straight year that the first baseman/designated hitter had cleared the 30-homer plateau.

Because Encarnacion did not accept the Blue Jays' $17.2 million qualifying offer, the Indians would lose a first-round draft pick, No. 25 overall, if the deal is completed. Toronto would gain an extra pick at the end of the first round.

Cleveland knocked off Boston and Toronto in the playoffs and jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the World Series before the Chicago Cubs rallied to win in seven games and capture their first title in 108 years.

The close call convinced the Indians the time was right to spend, and they've shelled out money for one of the biggest bats available this winter.

Young stars

His departure from Toronto after eight seasons is a major move for Cleveland, which overcame injuries under manager Terry Francona to get to the World Series for the first time since 1997 and doesn't want to endure another long wait.

Already with one of baseball's best pitching staffs, the Indians now have a much more dangerous lineup. They've got young stars in second baseman Jason Kipnis and shortstop Francisco Lindor, and if left-fielder Michael Brantley can bounce back from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for all but 11 games last season, the top of Cleveland's order is as good as any team.

Encarnacion was acquired by the Blue Jays midway through the 2009 season in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds. His breakout season came in 2012 when he hit 42 homers and added 110 RBIs.

He has been one of the game's top sluggers since. Encarnacion earned $10 million this year while playing out the team option on his previous contract.

In November, the Blue Jays reportedly offered Encarnacion a four-year, $80-million deal which the slugger and his agent did not immediately accept in hopes of landing a more lucrative deal on the open market. 

Toronto then moved quickly to sign Kendrys Morales to fill the DH role, as well as infielder/outfielder Steve Pearce, and essentially closed the door on the possibility of re-signing Encarnacion

Playoff drive

The 33-year-old native of La Romana, Dominican Republic, helped Toronto end a 22-year playoff drought in 2015 as the Blue Jays reached the American League Championship Series before falling to Kansas City.

In 2016, Encarnacion hit a walk-off homer to give Toronto a wild-card game victory over the Baltimore Orioles. The Blue Jays beat the Texas Rangers in the AL Division Series for the second straight year but lost to Cleveland in the ALCS.

In 1,513 career regular-season games, Encarnacion has a .266 batting average with 310 homers and 942 RBIs.

He was drafted in 2000 by the Rangers with the 274th overall pick and made his big-league debut in 2005 with the Reds.

With files from CBC Sports and The Associated Press


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