Taking a Deeper Look into the Latest Rumors Surrounding the Cleveland Indians and Edwin Encarnacion

MLB: OCT 18 ALCS Game 4 - Indians at Blue Jays
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If you do a quick Google search of the phrase “pulling out all the stops,” you’ll find it’s explained as using “all the resources or force at one’s disposal.”

Of course, this is how that idiom is generally defined. In the coming days, we might find out just what exactly said saying means to the Cleveland Indians.

At the moment, “pulling out all the stops” is the phrase associated with the team’s rumored pursuit of free agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion. Numerous reports from those close to the negotiations describe Cleveland as a team apparently willing to do whatever it can to land easily the best hitter on the market. Based on what we’ve heard, the Indians are in a multi-team race to sign Encarnacion, seen along with the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics as one of the clubs most likely to get a deal done.

However, we obviously aren’t hearing much about what exactly the Tribe has offered. Ever since the rumors first started, the consensus opinion was that Encarnacion would be far too expensive for Cleveland. Having already turned down a four-year, $80 million deal from the Toronto Blue Jays, everyone assumed his asking price wasn’t going to be anywhere near the bar usually set by the small-market Tribe.

A couple weeks later, Cleveland is being labeled as one of the more legitimate potential landing spots for Encarnacion.

Is there reason for fans to start picturing him in an Indians uniform next year? Or will this be yet another instance where the big names of free agency only get associated with Cleveland by rumor alone?

Frankly, it all comes down to just what the Indians are offering. Outside of the financial aspect, there’s plenty of reasons why Encarnacion should consider heading to Cleveland.

We’re talking about a team which was one run away from a World Series win, and found itself in said position with three of their best players sidelined due to injury. The returning members alone make Cleveland a potential playoff contender. Add Encarnacion, who’s averaged almost 39 home runs a year across the past five seasons, and the Indians become an AL powerhouse.

Of course, there’s a reason everyone keeps counting Cleveland out of these negotiations despite the aforementioned success, and it all goes back to that financial issue. Nobody honestly thinks the Indians, notorious for bargain shopping during free agency, are going to splurge on Encarnacion. Likewise, nobody honestly thinks the free agent’s price tag is going to drop to a number Cleveland would typically feel comfortable with.

Which brings us back to the reports of the Tribe’s recent aggressive pursuit of Encarnacion. While we’re hearing the Indians are apparently willing to go for broke to bring him on board, just exactly how much of a commitment are they talking about?

It’d be a stunner if Cleveland was offering the same numbers as the aforementioned Toronto deal that Encarnacion turned down. At the same time, some believe a three-year, $60 million deal could be something the Indians might be willing to extend. Whether or not this is enough to get Encarnacion to sign remains to be seen.

It all comes down to just how eager the club really is. The window of contention is wide open in the AL Central, but teams like the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros have made key additions which may make the road back to the World Series tough for the Tribe. Increasing pressure from fans desperate for another run like last October’s might add a little fire under the front office as well.

At the same time, making moves to counter opposing team’s signings or to appease fan demand isn’t something Cleveland is known for. It’s surprising enough we’re hearing the Indians are still in the Encarnacion sweepstakes to begin with. The core reason everyone uses to discount Cleveland’s chances – money – isn’t going away anytime soon.

So, while reports claim the Indians are going all out in attempts to sign Encarnacion, can we honestly believe the number they’ve offered is still more appealing than the other proposals he’s received? Does “pulling out all the stops” mean the same in Cleveland as it does in Texas? Are the Indians being just aggressive enough to say they tried hard before attempting to sell fans on another, far less exciting acquisition?

I’m willing to leave the door open for surprises, and do admire the Indians for making this much of a push. That said, even this far into the negotiations, it’s tough to bet on Cleveland’s chances of signing Encarnacion.

Then again, who knows, maybe the Indians have one heck of a Christmas miracle to give to their fans this holiday season.

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