The Cleveland Indians came within one victory of their first World Series Championship since 1948 last fall, and they brought back all but one of their arbitration-eligible players who were key parts of the team’s longest postseason run in 19 years.
But the Indians did more than just bring back their own players, as they signed first baseman/designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion and veteran relief pitcher Boone Logan in the offseason to bolster the team’s efforts in returning to and reversing their fortunes in the World Series.
“Hats off to our front office and to our ownership,” reliever Cody Allen said. “It would’ve been very easy to kind of sit back and just try to take the same team into next year.
“But to take the team we had and push the talent level when we were able to push it to the 10th inning of Game 7, to try and take that team and make it even better, put more of a financial commitment into winning now, that says a lot to the players, and we want to reward them for that.”
Cleveland Indians bolster roster for 2017 season
To Allen and his teammates, the signings of free agents, including Encarnacion, who got the largest contract in the history of the Indians organization, shows ownership knows the window for winning is now and have committed the resources necessary to make it happen.
“It’s an exciting time right now to be a part of this organization,” Allen said. “To get a bat like Edwin Encarnacion, a guy like Boone Logan who can complement our team extremely well, even guys like Austin Jackson and some of the other pickups we had throughout the offseason that may not have had the headlines of Edwin Encarnacion, I think those guys will really help us out.”
In 12 years at the Major League level, Encarnacion has hit .266 with 1,439 hits in 5,409 at-bats in 1,513 career games. Of those 1,439 hits, 629 have gone for extra bases, including 311 doubles and 310 home runs. Also, Encarnacion has driven in 942 runs, scored another 829 and drawn 662 walks.
During his final year with the Blue Jays, Encarnacion hit .263 (158 for 601) with 34 doubles, 42 home runs and 127 runs batted in over 160 games. He set career highs with the 158 hits, 99 runs scored, 76 extra-base hits, 127 RBI and 318 total bases. The 42 round-trippers matched his single-season career best.
“When you bring a guy like Edwin into our lineup, one, it takes away a threat from an opposing team because that guy can hit,” reliever Dan Otero said. “He’s not just a power hitter. I know going over the reports against him the last couple years, it’s always been, ‘You just can’t pitch in one spot.’
“There’s not one way to get him out, and when you have a hitter like that, it’s really tough on the opposing pitcher. Now, you plug him into the middle of our lineup hitting behind Kip and Lindor, and then, hitting in front of maybe a Brantley and Santana. With everybody coming back, it’s hopefully going to be really dangerous.”