You knew the Winter Meetings could not end without a deal by Seattle Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto, who reportedly finalized a 3-team trade today from his hospital bed. In the deal, DH Edwin Encarnacion and a Competitive Balance pick head to Seattle, 1B/OF Jake Bauers and 1B Carlos Santana go to Cleveland, and 3B Yandy Diaz heads to Tampa along with MILB LHP Cole Sulser. Both Seattle and Cleveland will also receive cash considerations as well.
We have a deal!!!
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) December 13, 2018
Edwin Encarnacion, Carlos Santana Traded in 3-Team Deal
In this deal, the Mariners find their replacement for Nelson Cruz, acquiring slugger Edwin Encarnacion as their DH for 2019. Encarnacion batted .246/.336/.474 with 32 home runs in 2018, his lowest production since 2011. The move also saves them future money, cutting $19 million from their 2019 ledger despite an $8 million increase to their 2018 obligations, and nets them an extra Competitive Balance selection as well.
Cleveland reunites with Carlos Santana (.229/.352/.414 with 24 home runs in 2018), replacing Encarnacion’s bat and saving some money in 2019. They also acquire Jake Bauers (.201/.316/.384 with 11 home runs in 2018), a promising young first baseman who showed good potential in his first taste of MLB pitching.
Tampa Bay’s Side
The Rays add a young infielder with a limited amount of MLB experience in Yandy Diaz. Diaz spent most of 2018 in AAA, but slashed .312/.375/.422 in 39 games with Cleveland as well. In Cole Sulser, the Rays add an interesting potential bullpen piece who struck out 35.8% of batters faced in AAA this past season.
Adding Encarnacion to the Mariners is a win, both now and beyond 2019. Encarnacion was more valuable than Santana in 2018 (1.9 bWAR to 1.7 bWAR), and Seattle clears guaranteed money from their books for 2020. Cleveland is able to reunite with a respected former member of their clubhouse and adds a talented young bat in Bauers. The return for the Rays is puzzling, however.Diaz adds to their infield depth and gives them a solid contact bat there. Sulser, while dangerous last season in AAA, is already 28 and has yet to pitch at the MLB level. Receiving these pieces for a young bat like Bauers seems light, especially considering their current need at DH, though the Rays do have a history of success operating counter to industry-accepted behavior.