No, slugger Edwin Encarnacion is not coming to the Cardinals.
Fans clamoring for more middle-of-the-order heft refused to give up on the Encarnacion-to-Busch pipe dream. Now they must because Encarnacion signed with the Cleveland Indians.
Matt Carpenter remains the Cardinals' opening day first baseman. Matt Adams, who hit at a 30-homer pace last season, remains an extra bat.
Jedd Gyorko, who smacked 30 homers in 400 at bats, and Jhonny Peralta, who hit 38 homers in his first two Cardinals seasons combined, are the immediate options at third base.
So the team should have ample offense at the corner infield positions and on its bench. Spending large on Encarnacion never made much sense for this franchise.
Down the road, perhaps Aledmys Diaz will play third base after the Cardinals either graduate a shortstop from their system (Edmundo Sosa? Delvin Perez?) or add one via trade or free agency.
Encarnacion made lots more sense for American League teams looking for a designated hitter, like Cleveland or the Texas Rangers.
Here is how ESPN's Keith Law assessed the signing:
I wrote at the start of the offseason that Encarnacion was a good bet for some age-related decline because he’s an “old man’s skills” player, delivering value with walks and power, but striking out a bit and bringing no speed or defense to the table. I used that to argue that while he might want four years and $80 million, I’d balk at those terms; instead, Cleveland gets him for three years and a reported $60 million overall, with the chance for four and $80 million if they exercise his $20 million option ($5 million buyout) for 2020.
But of all teams potentially interested in Encarnacion, Cleveland has the most to gain from him, on the field and financially, in 2017: They won the AL pennant, they return essentially the same roster this year but with healthier pitching, and they just upgraded at their biggest hole on the field. The marginal gain for them from the two to three extra wins they just bagged is enormous -- those could very easily be the wins that give them the division, or an extra home playoff game, or in a worst-case scenario a wild-card berth. If he gets them back into October, in Year 1 they’ll recoup a lot of the $65 million guarantee and could then handle the likelihood that by Year 3 he won’t be a $20 million player anymore.
The biggest losers here are the Toronto Blue Jays, Encarnacion's previous employer. The Jays jumped way too soon in this year’s DH-laden free-agent market and signed a player who may not be one-quarter as good as Encarnacion for more than half the price. Kendrys Morales wasn’t even a one-win player last year, and in 2014 he posted a .274 OBP, but the Jays gave him three years and $33 million -- so they’re paying him 55 percent of Encarnacion’s salary to produce maybe 25 percent of the value, maybe even less. The Blue Jays didn’t get younger, and they didn’t commit to fewer years. They saved money, but the team got worse. I’m rarely a fan of November free-agent signings, which often come before we get a sense of the market’s direction, but this one appears to be a serious overpayment, especially with a lot of similar players -- including Mark Trumbo, Pedro Alvarez or even the familiar face of Jose Bautista -- still available.
So now what for dreaming Cardinals' fans — demands for Trumbo?
MYSTERIES OF THE UNIVERSE
Questions to ponder while the Blues scatter for a holiday vacation:
GRAYSON ALLEN GOES TO TIME OUT
Thanks to 24/7 sports highlights, America got to see Duke guard Grayson Allen trip an opponent with a cheap shot, then melt down on the bench like a petulant fourth-grader. America saw this over and over and over again, forcing the coach Mike Krzyzewski to take action.
Here is how the pundits responded:
Pat Forde, Yahoo! Sports: "Grayson Allen needs to sit, and now he will. And while he’s sitting, he may well need counseling. Something is not right with the young man when he plays basketball, similar to the way something is not right when Draymond Green is kicking basketball opponents, Ndamukong Suh is stomping opposing football players and Luis Suarez is biting people on the soccer pitch. The Duke guard is a dirty player. Not misunderstood. Not unfairly villainized. Dirty. He’s intentionally tripped three players in his past 25 games played, from last February through Wednesday night. He’s expressed remorse for his actions – and then repeated the same punk behavior. At the risk of playing armchair psychologist, there appears to be a competitive anger problem or an impulse control problem or both. Whatever is going on, playing more basketball isn’t going to address the issues."
Rodger Sherman, The Ringer: "Even if you’re a Duke basketball fan, you can admit that it’s perfectly normal for everybody else to hate Grayson Allen. Most of us dislike Duke, but the Blue Devils are one of the most popular college basketball teams around. This is in spite of the fact Duke is a small, academically prestigious private school that plays in a gym less than half the size of some ACC arenas — and still has more seats than Duke has undergrads. If you’re a Duke fan by choice, you probably chose to root for the Blue Devils because they make everybody else furious. (Let me guess: You're a Cowboys fan too, right?) From Bobby Hurley to Christian Laettner to J.J. Redick to Greg Paulus to the Plumlees, Duke has had villains since it became a powerhouse. To be a Duke villain, you need to tick a few boxes. You need to be preposterously intense, your veins popping out of your forehead as you slap the floor to indicate that YOU WILL NOT ALLOW WAKE FOREST TO CUT THIS LEAD TO 13. You have to be willing to do small, irritating things that are successful but annoy the hell out of everybody: ruining huge dunks by planting your feet just outside the circle and drawing an offensive foul, finding the right spot of the floor to drill an open 3 after an offensive rebound. You also have to be white. Now, it’s a misconception that Duke has a monopoly on white stars: There have been 17 white consensus first- or second-team All-Americans in the past 10 years, and only Jon Scheyer and Mason Plumlee have been Dukies. I didn’t see any widespread hatred for Frank Kaminsky or Doug McDermott or Jimmer Fredette or Nik Stauskas or Kelly Olynyk — but a white dude on Duke? It gets our blood boiling."
Matt Brown, Sports on Earth: "Everyone who signs with Duke to play basketball knows the deal. Going to Duke means playing for one of the most prestigious programs in college basketball under one of the most renowned coaches in all of sports. It means playing with highly touted teammates in the national spotlight and having a chance to compete for the national championship every season. It also means signing up to be the villain. Duke, on an annual basis, is the team that nearly every other Division I team is chasing, and it's thus the team that most everyone outside of Durham roots against. Grayson Allen is a villain because he signed with Duke, and he'd be the enemy of opposing fans simply for becoming the Blue Devils' best player, no matter how he acted on the court. But Allen has also brought the villain role upon himself. This time, it's earned him an indefinite suspension."
Seth Davis, SI.com: "Last season’s tripping incidents warranted concern, but not necessarily drastic action. The first, when Allen was on his back and swiped Louisville forward Ray Spaulding, was barely noticeable. It was almost hard to tell if it was intentional. The second, which he delivered to Florida State Xavier Rathan-Mayes, appeared to be in retaliation to something. The official standing nearby, Tony Greene, is a long time vet who handled the situation in an old-school manner. He brought the guys together and told them to knock it off. Wednesday’s transgression was far worse. There was no question what Allen was trying to do to Elon guard Steven Santa Ana. Right before the trip, Allen delivered a hard, unnecessary foul. His blood was running way too hot. And keep in mind that this was against Elon in December, not North Carolina in February. Why in the world would Allen’s mindset lead him to make such a poor decision? Why did he lose his composure so badly on the bench? No one can answer that right now, least of all Krzyzewski."
"Carmelo was a true conundrum for me in the six years I had him. He was the best offensive player I ever coached. He was also a user of people, addicted to the spotlight and very unhappy when he had to share it. He really lit my fuse with his low demand of himself on defense. He had no commitment to the hard, dirty work of stopping the other guy."
Former Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, ripping ex-Nugget Carmelo Anthony in his new book.