The looming decisions of mega free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado might be the only thing on the minds of White Sox fans as the new year approaches, but there are other players out there — and other offseason rumors involving the South Siders.
The latest, however, is a bit of head-scratcher.
MLB Network's Jon Morosi mentioned the White Sox as one of the teams turning attention to a potential acquisition of Edwin Encarnacion. This after a player the White Sox were linked to earlier this offseason, Nelson Cruz, signed with the division-rival Minnesota Twins.
Encarnacion has launched no fewer than 32 and as many as 42 home runs in each of the last seven seasons. He terrorized the White Sox as a member of the Cleveland Indians in 2017 and 2018. But now he's a Seattle Mariner, and if you've been paying attention to the offseason they've been having in the Pacific Northwest, they want to trade just about everybody.
If you're a team looking for a stopgap at designated hitter for the next one or two seasons, then you could do a lot worse than Encarnacion, who has an option for 2020. But the White Sox aren't that kind of team.
First off, bringing in a soon-to-be 36-year-old designated hitter doesn't exactly mesh with the rebuilding team's long-term plans. But perhaps more importantly, they don't have anywhere for him to play as the roster is currently constructed. The trade with the aforementioned Indians for Yonder Alonso created a two-man, tag-team situation at first base and designated hitter with Jose Abreu. Those two are expected to fill those two spots, in one combination or the other, in most games during the 2019 season. Adding a third wheel to that mix makes no sense, especially considering none of those guys can play any other positions, unless a move sending Alonso or Abreu out of town would accompany a trade for Encarnacion.
And there's another bit of info that makes this a tough one to understand from a White Sox perspective. While Rick Hahn has already made a trio of trades this winter — with the Indians for Alonso, with the Mariners for Alex Colome and with the Pittsburgh Pirates for Ivan Nova — dealing away prospects to a rebuilding team like the Mariners in exchange for a player who's about to turn 36 doesn't make a lick of sense with where the White Sox are in their own rebuilding project. The players dealt away in the Alonso, Colome and Nova deals weren't expected to be big parts of the future, with major league catcher Omar Narvaez the biggest name sent out of town. But someone like Encarnacion could cost a little more as the Mariners look to further stockpile their farm system.
The same confusion seemed to arise from the reported interest in Cruz, though at least he was a free agent, where the only cost would be in dollars.
Morosi also mentioned Jose Martinez of the St. Louis Cardinals as an option for teams looking for a DH, as he just got squeezed out of first base by the Redbirds' acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt. Martinez would make far more sense than Encarnacion, only 28 and not a free agent until 2023. But the same questions apply in that the White Sox would need to spend prospect capital to acquire him and that they have no place for him to play. That being said, in 270 career games with the Cardinals, he's batting .309 with a .372 on-base percentage. His power numbers, however, leave a little to be desired, with just 31 career home runs, a smaller career total than any single-season total Encarnacion has posted since 2011.
The White Sox have already added a designated hitter to the mix this winter in Alonso, and when you throw in Daniel Palka, who hit 27 homers as a rookie last season, that makes a crowded group of DHs on the South Side. And so adding another doesn't seem to be very logical. But the Hot Stove rumor mill doesn't stop this time of year.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.