Moving forward with their highly publicized rebuild, the Seattle Mariners have made another move, dealing slugger Edwin Encarnacion and cash considerations to the New York Yankees. ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported the trade Saturday evening on Twitter, and the club officially announced the trade several hours later.
Encarnacion, who was acquired from Cleveland in a three-team deal during the offseason that sent Carlos Santana to the Indians, has been one of Seattle’s most productive hitters this season, slashing at .241/.356/.531 in 65 games. He is also the current American League leader with 21 homers, and tied for third in the league in RBIs with 49.
He was held out of the starting lineup the past three games with lower back tightness, but Mariners manager Scott Servais told reporters in Oakland having Encarnacion sit out was precautionary. The impending trade could offer another reason for his multi-game absence.
As part of the trade, the Mariners will reportedly also send $8.4 million of what is owed to Encarnacion to New York.
The Mariners will get 19-year-old pitching prospect Juan Then in return. The right-hander was originally signed by Seattle’s organization in 2016, and played a season for the Dominican Summer League Mariners before being traded to New York in the Nick Rumbelow deal following the 2017 season.
Then has posted a 0-3 record and 2.70 ERA in 11 starts with the Gulf Coast League Yankees this season in extended spring training. He struck out 42 and walked 11 in 50 complete innings. He will report to Short-A Everett.
The move to send Encarnacion to New York is already the 10th trade the Mariners have made in-season, and the second time this month the club has dealt one of its major-league offseason acquisitions. Outfielder Jay Bruce was traded to the Phillies, along with more than $18.5 million of what was owed to him, on June 2 for a low-level minor-leaguer.
The Encarnacion deal continues to thin out Seattle’s MLB roster during its “step back” season. While with the Mariners, Encarnacion primarily played first base while also functioning as a designated hitter about 30 percent of the time. Bruce was traded in part to clear up a log jam at first base between Encnarnacion, Daniel Vogelbach and Ryon Healy, once his stint filling in for injured third baseman Kyle Seager, who has since returned, was over.
Encarnacion’s departure further clears the way for Healy, who has been on the 10-day injured list since May 21 with lower back inflammation, to return to his usual position with Vogelbach acting as the starting DH most days.
Servais confirmed to reporters in Oakland on Saturday night that utility infielder and catcher Austin Nola will be called up from Triple-A Tacoma to fill Encarnacion’s spot on the active roster. He will make his MLB debut in his first appearance. Nola, who has primiarly played catcher and first base for the Rainiers, is slashing at .327/.415/.520 with 15 doubles, a triple, seven home runs and 37 RBIs.