Just last week, the Miami Marlins were making a strong run at landing one of the two premier free agents of the 2016-2017 class. Just last week, the Marlins came up just short on acquiring either one of them.
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Should the Marlins shift gears to offense, and look at picking up Edwin Encarnacion?
According to Jim Bowden, that’s shaping up as a no. The price is still too high, and it would involve giving up the same first round pick that would have been relinquished had they signed Kenley Jansen.
But should the asking price continue to fall, that’s a position the Marlins might be wise to reverse.
Encarnacion would dramatically alter a lineup that, while upper echelon in terms of batting average, struggled mightily to knock in runs last season. Justin Bour did take a big step forward last year, at least before stepping on first base wrong and derailing the season. Marcell Ozuna did indeed make his first All-Star team, right before fading dramatically in the second half. Encarnacion brings years of proven, All-Star run production to the table though. Four of the last five seasons have seen him knock in over 100 RBIs, and the lone 2014 season he didn’t would have been the only one he wouldn’t have led the Marlins in both HRs and RBIs.
Ideally, that would create a partial platoon at first base, but with Bour largely serving as another power option off the bench most nights. Encarnacion does fare significantly better against righties as well, but his 9 HRs against lefties in 2016 is a dramatic improvement over Bour’s goose-egg. Last year showed just how critical depth was at the plate and on the mound alike, and the transformative power this signing would have just can’t be overstated.
Alternatively, were there interest in Bour, it would free him up to be dangled in a package to reel in another pitcher. A valued member of the lineup to be sure, he’s far from wearing the same untouchable label that a J.T. Realmuto or Christian Yelich does.
The main reason though this could happen? It’s the same one that helped drive the pursuit of Chapman and Jansen.
The Marlins are desperate to make a true splash this offseason, both to make this All-Star Game hosting 2017 as successful as possible and to help reenergize the fanbase after the calamitous loss of Jose Fernandez. Every addition thus far this been a positive, praised maneuver that will keep the team competitive. But not a single one of them has been the thunderbolt Jeffrey Loria is clearly looking for.
Encarnacion would be that thunderbolt and then some. Backing Stanton in the lineup with someone who will probably hit more home runs than him? That’s a terrifying thought for the National League East. That’s a reason to buy tickets. That’s one more player wearing a Marlins jersey when the All-Star rosters are introduced July 11th at Marlins Park.
Not saying it’s likely. Just saying it wouldn’t surprise if that price drops a little bit more.