06/17 19:57 CDT Encarnacin makes Yankees debut, surprised by deal to NY
Encarnacin makes Yankees debut, surprised by deal to NY
By MIKE FITZPATRICK
AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) --- Edwin Encarnacin went from last place in the AL West to
first in the AL East.
Naturally, he was pretty excited about it.
The veteran slugger received a warm ovation from fans when he made his Yankees
debut at home Monday night against Tampa Bay in the opener of a three-game
series. New York entered with a half-game lead in the division over the Rays.
"He could have picked somewhere else. I'd have been fine with it," Tampa Bay
manager Kevin Cash said, drawing laughs.
Batting fifth as the designated hitter, Encarnacin struck out swinging on the
10th pitch of his first at-bat in the second inning against Yonny Chirinos.
Acquired from Seattle in a trade late Saturday night, Encarnacin joined the
Yankees on Monday and began the day leading the American League with 21 home
runs. He said he expected to be shipped off by the payroll-paring Mariners, but
didn't think he'd wind up in New York. When he got the news, he was surprised
and happy to be sent to a first-place team.
"I play the game to win and it's exciting to come to a team that's battling and
doing so well right now," Encarnacin said through a translator.
The 36-year-old Encarnacin batted behind catcher Gary Snchez, who ranked
second in the AL with 20 homers. And with fellow sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and
Aaron Judge close to returning from the injured list, the Yankees are soon
poised to field one of baseball's most powerful lineups.
"I can't wait to see that. It's going to be fun," Encarnacin said before the
game. "We're going to hit a lot of homers, and we're going to win a lot of
General manager Brian Cashman acknowledged some might have been surprised to
see the Yankees add another big bat when it's clear they're looking to upgrade
an injury-depleted pitching rotation before the July 31 trade deadline. But he
said the Encarnacin move won't preclude that.
"I've got more work to do," Cashman said. "We'll be aggressive. We're always
aggressive. We just want to be smartly aggressive."
Stanton is due to come off the injured list Tuesday, with Judge potentially to
follow in a few days. When they get back, and with Encarnacin now in the fold
at designated hitter, Stanton is expected to play left field a lot, making
veteran Brett Gardner primarily a fourth outfielder with a part-time role on
Cashman, however, pointed out the addition of Encarnacin will give manager
Aaron Boone even more opportunities to rest top players and keep them fresh
while mixing and matching, something the GM said Boone has done a "masterful
job" with despite all the injuries New York has endured this season.
"It gives us a lot of coverage in a lot of different ways," Cashman said.
Encarnacin switched from uniform No. 10 with the Mariners to No. 30 with the
Yankees, who retired No. 10 in honor of Hall of Fame shortstop Phil Rizzuto.
The three-time All-Star has 401 career home runs, making him the third player
with at least 400 before joining the Bronx Bombers.
Jos Canseco had 440 when he arrived in 2000, and Andruw Jones had 407 when he
was obtained in 2011.
At the new Yankee Stadium, Encarnacin had 18 homers in 69 games.
"We've seen what he's done to us over the course of time," Cashman said. "He's
a very patient, powerful, impact bat. His makeup is off the chart, and he's
very well-liked by his teammates."
Encarnacin began the night hitting .241 and was among the league leaders with
49 RBIs and 48 runs. He has averaged 37 homers and 109 RBIs in his last seven
seasons and tops the majors with 322 long balls this decade.
He moved from Cleveland to Seattle last December in a three-team trade that
included Tampa Bay. Cashman said the Yankees knew the Mariners would make
Encarnacin available again, so they stayed in touch.
Seattle sent $8,397,849 to the Yankees as part of the trade, leaving them to
pay $8 million of the remaining $16,397,849 Encarnacin is guaranteed ---
$11,397,849 of his $20 million salary this year plus a $5 million buyout of a
$25 million club option for 2020.
New York traded 19-year-old minor league pitcher Juan Then to the Mariners.
The way the deal is structured, Encarnacin counts only $3 million toward the
Yankees' luxury tax payroll this year and $5 million toward 2020.
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