A potential blockbuster deal between two of the American League's best team's "died on the vine," one prominent baseball writer wrote Wednesday.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Indians and Boston Red Sox discussed a trade during the offseason that would've sent designated hitter/first baseman Edwin Encarnacion to Beantown. In return, the Tribe would've received center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
The Boston #Redsox and Cleveland #Indians talked about potential Edwin Encarnacion and Jackie Bradley swap during winter that died on the vine. Will Redsox revisit or keep waiting for JD Martinez. Predictions on Elite Eight remaining free agents https://t.co/SNHzM4OlrB— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 7, 2018
The Red Sox are desperately trying to add power to a lineup that saw no player hit more than 24 home runs last season. They have reportedly offered a five-year, $125 million deal to free agent outfielder J.D. Martinez, but the slugger has refused to sign it, claiming his asking price has not been met.
A deal for Encarnacion—who has hit at least 34 home runs in each of the past six seasons—could've served as a viable alternative to signing Martinez. However, "club officials with direct knowledge of the talks" apparently told Nightengale the deal stalled after Boston was not willing to part with the 27-year-old Bradley.
During the 2017 season (his first in Cleveland), Encarnacion overcame a slow start to hit 38 home runs with 107 RBIs and an .881 OPS. Those numbers far exceeded Bradley's totals (17, 63, .726), although the outfielder has been solid as a defender. Their WAR totals were identical at 2.8.
Had the deal gone through, it possibly could've been a salary dump for the Indians, as the 34-year-old Encarnacion is due to make a total of $40 million over the next two years, along with an additional $20 million club option in 2020. By contrast, will be under arbitration through 2020, and is due to make just $6.1 million this coming season.
It is unknown if Encarnacion was aware of the talks while they were ongoing. Nightengale reports the Red Sox are still focusing on trying to sign Martinez, although a trade with the Detroit Tigers to bring in aging star Miguel Cabrera could also be a possibility.