The Cleveland Indians reacquired fan favorite Carlos Santana and sent slugger Edwin Encarnacion to Seattle in a three-team trade Thursday that also involved Tampa Bay.
The Rays got infielder Yandy Diaz and minor league right-hander Cole Sulser from Cleveland. The Indians also acquired first baseman Jake Bauers from Tampa Bay, while the Mariners wound up with cash and a draft pick.
Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto finished the trade while in a hospital. He fell ill during the winter meetings and was checked “out of an abundance of caution,” the Mariners said.
Coming off their third straight AL Central, the Indians had been expected to make a move at the meetings, presumably with ace Corey Kluber or pitcher Trevor Bauer.
Instead, they jettisoned Encarnacion — the designated hitter has averaged 108 RBIs over the last seven seasons — and brought back the popular Santana.
“Not sure how to feel,” Indians star Jose Ramirez tweeted after the deal.
The 32-year-old Santana, known for his power and ability to draw walks, spent the first eight seasons of his career in Cleveland before signing a $60 million, three-year deal with Philadelphia last offseason.
Philadelphia sent Santana to the rebuilding Mariners this month in a swap that included All-Star shortstop Jean Segura. Santana, appreciated by Indians fans even more after he left, still has $35 million left on his contract.
Santana hit .229 with 24 home runs and 86 RBIs while walking 110 times as the Phillies’ first baseman last season. He is owed $17 million next season and $17.5 million in 2020, part of a deal that includes a $17.5 million team option for 2021 with a $500,000 buyout.
Encarnacion, who turns 36 next month, had 107 RBIs while hitting 32 homers and .246. He leads the majors in homers and RBIs since 2012.
“We’re excited to add a proven offensive performer in Edwin Encarnacion,” Dipoto said in a statement. “In addition, by adding another draft pick for 2019, we have another opportunity to add to the talent in our minor league system.”
Encarnacion is guaranteed $25 million: $20 million next season and a $5 million buyout of a $25 million club option for 2020.
Seattle gets a competitive balance round B draft pick, currently projected at 77th overall.
The busy Mariners recently traded star second baseman Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz, who led the majors in saves.
Tampa Bay was eager to get Yandy Diaz, who hit .283 with 28 RBIs in 88 games for Cleveland in the last two seasons. Highly regarded at 27, his opportunities were limited with the Indians because they already had a talented infield.
Diaz hit .312 in 39 games for Cleveland this year. The Cuban led the Triple-A International League in on-base percentage.
“The key to this deal for us is how we feel about Yandy Diaz,” said Chaim Bloom, the Rays’ senior vice president of baseball operations. “We really like his bat. He hasn’t gotten an opportunity to show it regularly at the major league level just being blocked by some of the players that the Indians have had.”
“But we think there’s a lot of upside there,” he said. “He’s a third baseman by trade. He can also play first base. He’s kicked around the outfield a little bit. That and the fact that he’s a right-handed hitter is a really good fit for our roster.”
The 23-year-old Bauers made his major league debut last season and hit .201 with 11 homers and 48 RBIs in 96 games for Tampa Bay.
Sulser, 28, spent last season in Triple-A and Double-A, going a combined 8-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 47 relief appearances.
Source: The Associated Press