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Jon Paul Morosi of the MLB Network reported the update Friday and noted those teams have amplified their pursuit of Encarnacion, whom the M’s acquired from the Cleveland Indians in mid-December after fellow slugger Nelson Cruz signed with the Minnesota Twins.
The 35-year-old power hitter posted a .246/.336/.474 triple-slash line with 32 home runs across 137 appearances for the Tribe last season. He’s tallied over 30 homers each of the past seven years dating back to his time with the Toronto Blue Jays.
His 263 longballs since the start of the 2012 campaign rank first in all of baseball, nine more than second-placed Cruz, per FanGraphs.
The Astros are the most intriguing fit of the interested clubs since Encarnacion could slide into the middle of an already star-studded lineup. He’d join Michael Brantley as high-profile additions to a group led by George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa.
That said, he would probably provide a larger overall boost to the Rays or White Sox, who ranked ninth and 12th, respectively, in the American League in home runs last season.
Encarnacion would immediately become the most accomplished hitter in a Tampa lineup that’s among the worst in MLB on paper heading toward the 2019 season.
The question in Chicago would be fit, with Jose Abreu and Yonder Alonso penciled in as the team’s starters at first base and DH—that’s unless Alonso, who was traded from the Indians to the White Sox earlier this month, is included in the potential swap.
Encarnacion is set to make $21.7 million next season in the final guaranteed year of his three-year, $60 million contract. The deal has a club option for 2020 at $20 million.