The Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, and Tampa Bay Rays have just completed a three-way trade involving several key corner infielders. The deal sees Carlos Santana returning to the Cleveland Indians, where he has spent most of his career, while Edwin Encarnacion goes from Cleveland to the Seattle Mariners. The Tampa Bay Rays were also involved in the trade, sending first baseman, Jake Bauers, to Cleveland in exchange for its third baseman, Yandy Diaz.
There was also money exchanged between the three teams, which Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was able to break down and decipher.
The Cleveland Indians have been the subject of many rumors so far this offseason due to their apparent willingness to deal away some of their top pitchers, such as Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Carlos Carrasco. However, this trade now gives the team a multitude of options at the corner infield positions, with Santana, Bauers, and Yonder Alonso also in the mix.In perhaps the biggest deal of the Winter Meetings, the Rays, Indians, and Mariners completed a three-team deal on Thursday. Click To Tweet
Carlos Santana is a great fit for the Indians because he has been a great fit ever since 2010 when he first debuted with them. Santana’s batting average dropped during his one-year stint with the Philadelphia Phillies, but the rest of his numbers remained as consistent as they always have. He smacked 24 home runs and scored 82 runs last season in 161 games. Santana also showed off his amazing plate discipline yet again, drawing 110 walks, which was second most behind only Bryce Harper in the National League.
Santana is sure to excel in 2019 going back to his former team. Jon Heyman of Fancred shed some light on Santana’s excitement regarding his return to Cleveland.
As for Edwin Encarnacion, he goes from Cleveland to Seattle as part of the deal, essentially replacing Nelson Cruz as the team’s newest right-handed, power-hitting designated hitter. It is extremely unlikely that Encarnacion finishes the 2019 season in a Seattle Mariners uniform, given the team’s current objective of rebuilding. He is now an asset that the Mariners can flip around the trade deadline next season for a package of prospects in order to continue their rebuilding operation.
Encarnacion had a fine 2018 campaign with Cleveland, smashing 32 home runs with 107 runs batted in through 137 games. His plate discipline took a hit in 2018 as he struck out 132 times while drawing just 63 walks, which was a sharp decline from his 2017 numbers where he drew 104 walks and finished with a .377 on-base percentage. Nevertheless, Encarnacion is a consistent power hitter who will serve as a valuable mid-season trade asset for a Mariners team that is aggressively rebuilding.
The Tampa Bay Rays, meanwhile, will receive 27-year-old third baseman, Yandy Diaz, for their part in this 3-team trade. Diaz impressed in his 2018 campaign, albeit it was a limited sample size, as he slashed .312/.375/.422 in 39 games with the Indians.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times highlighted that Diaz’s ability to play all around the infield, as well as his impressive bat, motivated the Rays to acquire him.
Ken Rosenthal also provided some additional context as to why the Rays dealt away Jake Bauers, who was one of their most promising young talents.
The Rays have a ton of flexibility when it comes to their roster due to the amount of depth they have throughout the organization when it comes to position players. The team already added Charlie Morton earlier this week, and now they will look to bolster their lineup in order to put themselves in a position to contend in 2019.
The final verdict on this trade will not be known until Seattle flips Edwin Encarnacion in a separate trade, when or if that ever happens. However, for the moment, both the Rays and the Indians have improved their respective infields as they prepare for the 2019 season.