Indians appear to be team to beat for Edwin Encarnacion

The first baseman and designated hitter reportedly rejected a four-year, $80 million offer to remain with the Blue Jays and sought nine figures in guaranteed salary on the open market.

When the Cleveland Indians signed first baseman Edwin Encarnacion to a three-year, $60 million deal, first baseman Mike Napoli's fate with the Tribe was swiftly sealed. Napoli is a 1B/DH, the Rangers already have Shin-Soo Choo, who needs to be at DH going forward, and they are likely looking at Joey Gallo as their long-term solution at first base. To add on, Cleveland must have really wanted Encarnacion-big spending is not something the Indians are known for. They had speed, versatile players, and a solid pitching staff.

The Blue Jays offered a similar deal at the beginning of the offseason, but talks broke down and Toronto moved on to other options, beginning with free agent Kendrys Morales.

"Edwin Encarnacion's agent, Paul Kinzer, told MLB Network Radio today that Encarnacion turned down a "(Yoenis) Cespedes-type" offer from the Athletics. The fewest games he has played in the last six years was 128 games in 2014 with the Blue Jays.

Cleveland's lagging attendance - the Indians ranked 28th in the majors - will also get a big bump from Encarnacion's signing, which is being greeted by Cleveland fans as an early Christmas present.

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Encarnacion, who turns 34 in January, had an.886 OPS in 702 plate appearances last season with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Once that physical is cleared, Encarnacion will be ready to be an Edw-indian. That power potential will help maintain an offense that finished second in the American League in runs in 2016, despite being just 10th in home runs. Santana remains with the Indians while Napoli, who hit.239/.335/.465 with 34 home runs in 150 games in 2016, is a free agent.

The Blue Jays' Edwin Encarnacion is greeted in the dugout after he hit a two-run home run during the third inning against the Mariners on September 19 in Seattle.

Already with one of baseball's best pitching staffs, the Indians now have a much more risky lineup. We'll know more in three years, but taking advantage of a good business opportunity still takes commitment from ownership. What happens when a team that played into extra innings in the seventh game of the World Series gets better?

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