Yankees acquire Edwin Encarnacion, move outshines Chad Green’s performance

CHICAGO — The Yankees are arming themselves for their battle in the American League East with the Rays — or for the trade deadline. While they may need starting pitching, the Yankees acquired first baseman/designated hitter Edward Encarnacion to add to their already formidable lineup from the Mariners Saturday night, a team source confirmed.

Chad Green pitched two near perfect innings as the opener and Nestor Cortes Jr.was solid for five, giving the Yankees at least a little reprieve from their pitching problems for a day. With home runs from Gleyber Torres and Cameron Maybin, the Yankees snapped a three-game losing streak with a 8-4, rain-delayed win over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The Yankees (42-27) improved to 5-0 when using their opener, Green.

A home run from Torres drove in three runs and Gary Sanchez drove in three, including two on a double.

Green struck out six of the seven batters he faced, Cortes pitched five scoreless before he allowed back-to-back lead off singles in the eighth and was charged with two runs.

But that was overshadowed by the trade.

The 36-year-old Encarnacion is hitting .241/.356/.531 with 49 RBI and he leads the American League with 21 home runs. His former Blue Jays teammate is happy to welcome him to the clubhouse

“One of the best, in my opinion,” J.A. Happ said of Enccarnacion as a hitter. “He’s a pro and he’s gonna fit in great here. I know he’s going to be excited to come here. Doesn’t say a lot, but he works hard and is prepared and those are some of the reasons I think he will fit in here.”

The Mariners are paying some of the remaining $20 million remaining on Encarnacion’s salary, which includes an option for 2020, and getting back pitching prospect Juan Then, who the Yankees acquired from Seattle in 2017 for Nick Rumbelow.

The move is either the Yankees doubling down on their strength — or a precursor to more moves to come in the six weeks until the July 31 trade deadline.

They obviously need more pitching. Aside from when Green has “opened,” the Yankees starting pitching during the 8-3 slide they were on going into Saturday’s game could be put on their starters, who went 2-6 with a 6.45 ERA in that span.

But for now, the Yankees will attempt to power their way past their competition in the American League, and maybe even play some defense. There had been reports that the Rays, who the Yankees are battling for the division, were also exploring a trade for Encarnacion as well.

He comes to a team that is expecting their sluggers back in the next few days. Giancarlo Stanton, who hit 38 homers and drove in 100 runs last season, is expected to be activated off the injured list as soon as Tuesday. Aaron Judge, who hit 27 homers last season, is expected back within the next 11 days.

The addition of Encarnacion will also shake up the Yankees lineup, especially when it is at full strength sometime in the next two weeks.

Encarnacion is an average defensive first baseman, where Luke Voit has established himself as a below average glove with 17 homers and a team-leading 45 RBI. That means Encarnacion will most likely have to split time with Stanton as the DH. Stanton, who was playing left field Saturday night in a minor league rehab games, will have to play there more when he gets back than he did last season.

Brett Gardner, signed this winter to be a fourth outfielder, will likely head to the bench for that role. Clint Frazier, who went into Saturday night’s game hitting .291, is likely the odd man out. Gio Urshela, who was out of Saturday night’s lineup after making errors in his last two starts, could also be losing playing time when Encarnacion is playing first.

Frazier has been mentioned as being shopped as part of a package the Yankees could use to get some more pitching.

After the Yankees missed out on signing veteran lefty free agent Dallas Keuchel earlier this month, they turn their focus to trades. Giants World Series hero Madison Bumgarner is likely to dealt before July 31 as will Blue Jays starters Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. Rangers starter Mike Minor is reportedly on the market as is Detroit's Matthew Boyd.

With the addition of Encarnacion, the Yankees are either gearing up to power their way past other pitching or positioning themselves for more moves.

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