The Washington Nationals could use a big right-handed bat as could the 29 other teams. Edwin Encarnacion is set to be an unrestricted free agent once he rejects his Qualified Offer.
Encarnacion will be 34-years-old in less than 60 days and regressed slightly in 2016 while still putting up strong numbers with a career high in strikeouts. He could be in age regression while still slashing
.263/.357/.529/.886 and he is rated the second best free agent in this weak off-season.
Encarnacion is a great fantasy team pick-up, but is he a perfect fit for the Nationals since he is not defensive whiz at first base, and also is a part-time designated hitter which is of little use to the Nationals.
It didn’t stop the talking heads on MLB Network Radio yesterday to suggest the best fit for Encarnacion was to replace Ryan Zimmerman despite Mike Rizzo’s insistence that Zim is his off-season and Spring Training first baseman.
Here is the radio repartee:
CASEY STERN: I think they’re a surprise team — someone is going to tell me and treat me that I’m an idiot, but —
CLIFF FLOYD: No.
CASEY STERN: I got to go surprise. Let me go first —
CLIFF FLOYD: This is crazy.
CASEY STERN: Let me go — let’s get crazy. Ready? How about the Nationals?
CLIFF FLOYD: Um — I mean — yeah. Well, you think about what Zimmerman is who is over there at first base, right? Like, what do you do with him?
CASEY STERN: But what’s he doing?
CLIFF FLOYD: Well, it’s hard — you know, like, that’s the thing, right? When you talk to Rizzo, he’ll probably tell you he’s too high-priced to sit on the bench. And if you — you look for, you know, people to take him in but, you know, you’ve got to pay a lot. I think they would rather go into camp with him as their first baseman. So let’s move on from him.
CASEY STERN: See, I — the only thing — and I’m not saying you’re wrong, but the one thing I would say about Bautista in the outfield — and I wouldn’t do this, because I wouldn’t get him in the National League, but I’m just throwing out — I still think it’s a major problem that they’re missing a big right-handed bat to stick between Harper and Murphy. It’s a big problem.
And Wilson Ramos, coming off the injury, I don’t know — does he come back or if he’s gone. And I still would rather have him in the six hole than in that four spot, or three, depending upon how you do it.
If you were to stick — look, Zimmerman last year hit .218 with 15 homers and a 27 percent on-base. The year before that, he hit .240 with a 30 on-base. This is not a good player right now. And I hate it because it’s shoulder injuries, and it’s not fault and whatever else, but he’s not a good player.
And I understand the money that he’s getting paid. I understand that. 14 million dollars next year. I don’t know — could you eat some of that and move him? I have no idea. Like, I don’t know who would be desperate enough or want him. All I’m saying is in the fun, “could you imagine” — you give me a better heart of the order than what it would be if Encarnacion was put between Harper — if you put him behind Bryce Harper, how many more good pitches does Bryce Harper see?
CLIFF FLOYD: Oh, a ton.
CASEY STERN: That’s all I’m saying.
CLIFF FLOYD: It changes the whole landscape of —
CASEY STERN: See what I’m saying?
CLIFF FLOYD: — yeah, what Harper is doing. Now — you know, I just look at this team, and this team has a shot at, even with Trea Turner — now, for me, the bigger picture is how good Trea Turner is going to be, because he’s going to make this team go. And to your point, to have a guy that’s going to eat up, and loves to just ground ball to second base or go three-run Johnson on you, and Eddie Encarnacion in the middle of your order, you talk about depth — again,
CASEY STERN: Yeah. Again, it’s — I’m trying to think one plan, but outside the box.
It’s outside the box Casey. Come up with a suggestion that works. Yoenis Cespedes has a better chance of being a Washington National in 2017 than Edwin Encarnacion.
The part that deserves further discussion is what the national media thinks of Ryan Zimmerman when it’s unfiltered. We would never get these sound bites from the DC media.
Are they right? Is it time to move on or do we hope that 2016 was just a one year aberration for Zimmerman?