Rays, Indians, Mariners Cap Winter Meetings With 3-Team Deal
As the Winter Meetings were concluding on Thursday, the Rays, Mariners and Indians cashed in their chips and completed a three-way deal that involved a trio of first basemen. Two of those players, Carlos Santana and Jake Bauers, headed to Cleveland, while Edwin Encarnacion moved to Seattle.
Carlos Santana, 1B
Thursday’s move represents a homecoming for Santana and what should be the end of a fairly busy offseason. Santana played for the Phillies in 2018 but was dealt earlier this winter to the Mariners. He now moves back to Cleveland, where he’ll bring a combination of power and on-base skills. Santana had a rough first half with Philadelphia, but rebounded to produce a .793 OPS in the second half. He has two more years on his deal at roughly $40 million.
Jake Bauers, 1B/OF
Bauers made his major league debut on June 7, and he struggled for the most part. He showed much better when facing righthanders, against whom he hit .211/.331/.409 with nine of his 11 home runs. Bauers was known throughout his career for slow starts, then taking off once he’d fully adjusted to a level.
“He's been the youngest at every level he's performed at. And he figured it out. He's always struggled and started to stabilize himself a little bit and then he gets hot and he puts together some pretty good numbers offensively,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said during his media session on Monday.
“I think that's what we saw this year at the big league level. He struggled, he probably didn't have the right time to figure it. It was the right time for Jake to go home and gather his thoughts. But he was a little bit of an anomaly, when you watch his at-bats, his swing looked the same, everything looked the same. He wasn't getting his hits.”
Bauers was also the most heavily shifted upon player on the Rays, with opposing teams playing him to pull 48.4 percent of the time. He has the versatility to play in the outfield and at first base, and he isn’t a free agent until 2025.
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B
Like Santana, Encarnacion brings a mix of power and patience. He’s been on a bit of a steady decline with his age, but has posted 30-plus home runs and 98-plus RBIs in every season since 2012. He’ll also be able to stay primarily in the DH role with the Mariners, who already have the 26-year-old Ryon Healy at first base. Encarnacion is owed $25 million in the final season of a three-year deal with a club option for next year. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rays chipped in $5 million in the deal.
The Mariners also acquire Cleveland’s supplemental second-round pick, slated to be the No. 77 overall pick, in the deal.
National League Teams Have Success Without Filling For DH Spot
It appears that planning to fill the DH spot was less productive than simply making due with players already in your organization.
Yandy Diaz, UTIL
Diaz has long been a versatile player who garnered significant praise from internal and external evaluators, but he never really had a home in Cleveland. He was blocked there by a talented infield that included Encarnacion, Jose Ramirez, Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor. He showed well in his 39 games in 2018, but never seemed to fully leave the Columbus-Cleveland shuttle.
He’s never hit for significant power in the big leagues, however, with just one home run in 265 big league at-bats. Diaz is big and strong, and the Rays will try to unlock his power while keeping his versatility.
He also adds righthanded-ness to the lineup, and he joins a versatile group of infielders that also includes Matt Duffy and Christian Arroyo. Bauers’ departure makes room for a longer look at prospect Nate Lowe, who slugged his way to Triple-A and clubbed 32 home runs.
Cole Sulser, RHP
Sulser, the 25th-round selection of the Indians in the 2013 draft, brings a low-90s fastball and a downer curveball out of the bullpen. Despite a 4.53 ERA in Triple-A in 2018, Sulser still struck out 78 hitters in 51.2 innings.