Jul. 08, 2016
Free Agent Battle; Yoenis Cespedes vs Edwin Encarnacion
It's still about a month or so away, but the offseason is coming and that means free agency opens in baseball. There's going to be big names that will move in those coming months ahead, two of those moves will involve a couple of elite hitters that are set to command huge contracts from an MLB club. And those two hitters, Edwin Encarnacion and Yoenis Cespedes, are the two we are going to talk about in this post as we try to determine who is going to earn the better contract.
Starting with Encarnacion, the 1st baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays, had another monster season at the plate, slashing .263/.357/.529 with 42 homers in 702 plate appearances. That was good for an outstanding 3.7 WAR. Teams will immediately look upon those numbers as the main reasons to sign Encarnacion to a mega deal.
There are limitations to Encarnacion though. He's only limited to 1st base and designated hitter at this point in his career and isn't exactly a very good defender at first. Which is why most of his list of suitors will probably be from the American League. He's also 33 years old, which will limit the amount of years a team will want to sign him for on top of the fact that the team that signs him will be signing him for potential declining years.
Nonetheless, he should be able to recieve at the very least a five-year contract, and will no doubt recieve an annual salary around the mid $20-25MM range.
On to Cespedes, who just announced recently that he is opting out of the remaining years of his current deal with the New York Mets. Cespedes was once again amazing at the plate, hitting .280/.354/.530 in 543 PAs this year for New York. He's a consistent power threat whenever he comes up to bat, as evidenced by his 31 homers, plus he's good for about 3 wins above replacement. His list of teams will be long.
His knocks however, are the fact that he, just like Encarnacion, is on the wrong side of 30 and a team signing Cespedes will most likely be signing up for some decline years. His defense in center is not good and overall in the outfield is inconsistent, and his situation in free agency last year could be looked at by teams as a reason to think harder before having serious interest in his services.
Cespedes in the end should get the long-term contract he ever so desires, especially now with two very elite seasons under his belt.
It's without a doubt we will see both Cespedes and Encarnacion recieve deals paying them north of $20MM per year, but who is getting more?
It's hard to say, but I believe Encarnacion is in line for a six-year/$138MM deal, while Cespedes I can see recieving a seven-year/$161MM deal. Age will definitely play a role in the amount of years, but in the end, it's going to be the overall offensive numbers that will determine what these two guys make.