Another day, another notable transaction for Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane.
Today’s special: A successful waiver claim on Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Edwin Encarnacion.
I must be totally drunk on green and gold Kool-Aid because I like this rather bizarre move.
That’s probably not too surprising considering the fact that my wife has often accused me of having a man crush on Beane and I recently expressed my lack of faith in Kevin Kouzmanoff as the solution at third base for the A’s in 2011.
But is iron-gloved Encarnacion the answer at third for Oakland? With a nickname like E5 I don’t think so unless Beane has decided to roll the dice that his infield coach can work some magic.
My muddled logic sees this move possibly working and making sense in several ways on different levels (is that confusing enough for you?):
1. The A’s clearly need power and Encarnacion’s 21 homers in a 2010 season interrupted by injuries and a trip to the minors is still more than anyone posted for the A’s. If you can get that kind of power for the relatively low price of a waiver claim and a trip to arbitration it doesn’t hurt to make a claim and get dibs on Encarnacion’s bat.
2. If Oakland strikes out trying to land a power hitter at third base or designated hitter via trade or free agency they now have an in-house option to fill that spot in the lineup and provide some much-needed power.
3. Kouzmanoff and Encarnacion could be trade bait as the offseason rolls along and the teams that miss out on free agent Adrian Beltre look for a fallback plan. There isn’t much behind Beltre and Kouz or Encarnacion could give Oakland some flexibility to pull the trigger on a possible deal for a slugging outfielder if they throw in someone like Ryan Sweeney or Rajai Davis along with a prospect.
4. If Oakland cuts ties to Kouzmanoff and goes all-in on Encarnacion as 2011’s starting third baseman they can give him the Pat Burrell Treatment and replace him late in games with Adam Rosales for defense. That move worked like a charm for the world champion Giants last season and it might be the solution for Encarnacion’s less-than-stellar defense at the hot corner.
In the end, adding Encarnacion on a waiver claim gives Oakland options and some leverage as they continue their offseason pursuit of power hitters.
If the price for a free agent or player via trade is too high they won’t be left empty handed and forced to stomach another season of watching fading designated hitter Jack Cust take strike 3 all the time.
Encarnacion clearly isn’t the perfect cure for what ails Oakland’s offense but he is a creative and opportunistic attempt at roster dumpster diving for a low-budget team that needs to take some educated gambles every once and a while.