While many fans in New York have been calling for the club to bring in pitching reinforcements, general manager Brian Cashman looked elsewhere to improve.
When slugging outfielders Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton return to the lineup during the New York Yankees‘ next homestand, there will be a new masher in town. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Saturday night that the Yankees have agreed to acquire American League home run leader Edwin Encarnacion from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for minor league right-hander Juan Then.
It’s a steal for general manager Brian Cashman and the Yankees, as the 19-year-old Then was just New York’s No. 27 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. In a loaded farm system like the Yankees’, Then’s path to the majors would have remained blocked for years to come.
In Encarnacion, the Yankees add a middle-of-the-order bat that still can still put up elite power numbers, as evidenced by the AL-leading 21 home runs. Encarnacion hit just .241 in 65 games with Seattle this season, but sported a .888 OPS.
With Judge and Stanton set to return to the lineup next week and Encarnacion now in the fold, here’s a look at the starting lineup the Yankees could roll out by late-June:
- D.J. LeMahieu, 3B
- Aaron Judge, RF
- Giancarlo Stanton, LF
- Gary Sanchez, C
- Luke Voit, 1B
- Edwin Encarnacion, DH
- Didi Gregorius, SS
- Gleyber Torres, 2B
- Aaron Hicks, CF
That’s right, the AL home run leader could be hitting sixth in this Yankees lineup. Pitchers beware.
Unless this trade is just a precursor to something bigger on the horizon. The addition of Encarnacion further congests an already-crowded 25-man roster in New York. Clint Frazier, Brett Gardner and Gio Urshela have all performed well in expanded roles, and there comes a point when there are just too many mouths to feed.
Everyone knows that the Yankees need starting pitching. The rotation is chock full of injuries (see Severino, Luis) and disappointing seasons (see Happ, J.A.). It’s not hard to imagine the Encarnacion deal setting the stage for a big mid-summer acquisition of a starting pitcher from a team that’s selling at the deadline. Madison Bumgarner, Marcus Stroman and – dare I say it – Max Scherzer come to mind.
Whatever the next step may be, it looks like Cashman has pulled off yet another heist on the trade market.