The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Eric Umphrey
the Times 

Edwin Encarnación traded to Yankees for Juan Then


Another Mariner player was traded over the weekend. This time it was the current American League home run leader Edwin Encarnación. He was sent to the New York Yankees for minor league pitcher Juan Then. If that name sounds familiar it is because the Mariners originally drafted Juan and traded him in November of 2017 for Yankees AAA relief pitcher Nick Rumbelow.

Juan, now 19 years old, has yet to pitch this season as the rookie ball league he was assigned to hasn't started yet. Apparently, his time in the Yankees system has improved his fastball which now runs 92-94 mph and tops out at 95 mph. His fastball was in the low 90's in the Mariners system. At this point in Juan's development he is projected to be either a #4 or #5 starter with a 2022 big league call-up date.

If you think the return on the Mariner's side is a little light, you're not alone. Juan was listed as the 31st ranked prospect in the Yankees system. In the Mariners system he projects to be the 15th ranked prospect. So, while the Yankees system is deeper in prospects, a 19-year-old player in rookie ball is not that different than picking up a player of similar talent in the 3rd- 4th round of the baseball draft or signing a player in the international draft to a low bonus.

I would have expected back either a player closer to major-league ready, say in AA with an earlier expected major league arrival date, or an additional player(s) at Then's level.

Encarnación's value to the Yankees wasn't just a power bat in the first base/DH slot. They already have Luke Voit at first and are getting back DH/OF Giancarlo Stanton back in a few days. The reason the Mariners should have received more value in this trade is the Yankees did not want Encarnación to be traded to either Boston or Tampa Bay.

In Boston, he would have been an upgrade over their first baseman Mitch Moreland who has been injured and is currently batting .225. In Tampa Bay, Ji-Man Choi is the first baseman. Choi is a light-hitting first baseman with 25 home runs in limited playing time in his whole career. Encarnación has 21 so far this year.

Also, as part of the three-team trade that sent Encarnación to Seattle, Tampa sent $5 million to Seattle. Seattle is now picking up over $8 million of the remaining $11 million of Edwin's contract. So viewed another way the Rays are now paying more $5 million than the Yankees $3 million for Encarnación to play against them in the same division. Tampa's farm system is even deeper in talent than the Yankees. It's surprising the Mariners were not able to make a deal with them for more players.

The trade deadline this year is July 31st and the Mariners aren't likely to be done trading yet.


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