OAKLAND, Calif. — A sore lower back supposedly kept Edwin Encarnacion out of the lineup the past three games. And now, the Seattle Mariners’ best hitter will never make another appearance in it again.
The Mariners announced after Saturday’s game that Encarnacion, the American League leader with 21 home runs entering Saturday, was traded to the New York Yankees. The Mariners received young right-hander Juan Then in return for Encarnacion while the Yankees will pick up somewhere between $8.5-10 million of the cash owed to Encarnacion, according to sources.
If the name Juan Then sounds familiar, it’s because it was recently mentioned when the Mariners released reliever Nick Rumbelow.
Seattle acquired Rumbelow from the Yankees on November 18, 2017, in exchange for Then and right-hander J.P. Sears. At the time, Then was a 17-year-old, who had just completed his first season in the Dominican Summer League. Last season, he pitched for the Yankees rookie affiliate in Florida, posting a 0-3 record and 2.70 ERA in 11 starts. He struck out 42 batters and walked 11 in 50 innings pitched.
General manager Jerry Dipoto isn’t with the team in Oakland and is attending his son’s college graduation in San Diego. But he did trade for Encarnacion while in a Las Vegas hospital during the winter meetings.
The Mariners acquired Encarnacion this offseason with no intention of keeping him for the full season and flipping him for a prospect or two. They intended to make the trade before spring training started, but the market for Encarnacion never materialized after Nelson Cruz spurned the Astros and Rays and signed with the Twins. Neither Houston nor Tampa seemed interested in acquiring Encarnacion mainly due to his contract. He was owed $20 million for this season with a $5 million buyout for a $20 million option in 2020.
Less than thrilled about having to start the season with Seattle, Encarnacion didn’t allow it to affect his play on the field. He played in 65 games, posting a .241/.356/.531 slash line with seven doubles, 21 homers and 49 RBI. He showed he wasn’t strictly limited to designated hitter, playing 45 games at first base.
The Yankees will have a lineup that now features Encarnacion along with Luke Voit and Gary Sanchez and will soon add Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.
Then will report to the Everett AquaSox, according to a press release from the Mariners.