Pretty much any and all rumors in the months leading up to the trade deadline were about whether the Yankees would go after starting pitching. Even with all the injuries the team was dealing with, the hitting was not the problem. However, it’s never a bad idea to get more of it, especially since the price paid to Seattle in return, minor league pitcher Juan Then, wasn’t exactly hefty.
Brian Cashman pulled the trigger on the deal, and after years of hitting the Bombers pretty well with an .833 OPS in over 100 career games, The Parrot became a Yankee.
2019 Statistics (as a Yankee): 44 games, 197 plate appearances, .249/.325/.531, 13 home runs, 37 RBI, 33 runs, 24 extra-base hits, 0.8 WAR, 129 wRC+
2020 Contract Status: Free agent
Encarnacion struggled immediately following his move to the Bronx. In his first 16 games, he went just 8-for-65, although did show off some of his famous power, with four of those hits being home runs.
It took a visit from one of his former teams to get him going. The Blue Jays came to Yankee Stadium on July 12, and Encarnacion had his first excellent game in pinstripes, going 2-for-4 with a double, while driving home three of the Yankees’ four runs. For the rest of the regular season he hit .321/.392/.643 with nine home runs.
As it was the 2019 season, he naturally also dealt with some injury issues.
Late in a game on August 3, Encarnacion was hit on the wrist by a pitch, suffering a hairline fracture. That caused him to miss exactly a month as he returned on September 3. He picked up where he left off, but after eight games, he went down with an oblique injury. That knocked him out for the remainder of the regular season, but he would recover in time for the playoffs.
Game one of the ALDS was Encarnacion’s first game in several weeks, but you never would’ve known it, as he recorded two doubles and the Yankees’ first RBI of the playoffs. In total, he was good in the ALDS, finishing with four hits in the sweep of the Twins. That did not carry over to the ALCS. Against the Astros, Encarnacion went just 1-for-18, and seemingly got benched for Game Five.
We’ll never know what would have happened had he hit well in the ALCS, but his performance against the Astros seemed to make a decision much easier for the Yankees. His contract had a $20 million club option for the 2020 season, which the Yankees declined to pick up on Thursday.
While the Yankees could surprise us, the writing on the wall seems to say that Encarnacion’s stint with the team is over. Considering what happened in the ALCS, that’s probably going to sour his time with the team for a lot of fans. However, prior to that, it was pretty fun having him in pinstripes.