MLB

Edwin Encarnacion added to Yankees’ roster

NEW YORK — A Yankees lineup that is preparing to welcome back Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton during this homestand grew even more fearsome on Monday, as Edwin Encarnacion — the American League’s leading home run hitter — prepared to take his first swings in pinstripes.
The 36-year-old Encarnacion was

NEW YORK — A Yankees lineup that is preparing to welcome back Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton during this homestand grew even more fearsome on Monday, as Edwin Encarnacion — the American League’s leading home run hitter — prepared to take his first swings in pinstripes.

The 36-year-old Encarnacion was added to the roster for the series opener against the Rays, batting fifth as the designated hitter, sandwiched between Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius. His eight homers this month are tied for the most in the Majors.

He went 0-for-4 in his debut, a 3-0 Yankees win.

“I definitely was surprised when it happened, but at the same time, I got super excited that I was going to this city,” Encarnacion said. “I’m definitely coming to a winning team, a team that’s on its way to making the playoffs, and that’s why we play. We play to win.”

Encarnacion, who will wear No. 30, was acquired with cash considerations from the Mariners on Saturday in exchange for right-hander Juan Then. In a corresponding move, the Yankees optioned outfielder Clint Frazier to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after Sunday’s game.

Adding starting pitching remains the Yankees’ priority ahead of the July 31 Trade Deadline, but general manager Brian Cashman said that he and his staff lobbied managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner on the idea of Encarnacion making the team incrementally better. The Yankees are picking up approximately $7.5 million of Encarnacion’s remaining $15 million salary for 2019, according to reports.

“Everyone knows we’re going to try to upgrade the pitching side of this staff, and that may or may not happen over time,” Cashman said. “But in the meantime, we just felt this was too good of an opportunity to pass up, with the quality of the bat and the makeup of the player and how he could fit in our lineup. Probably nobody saw that coming, but I think when the dust settles, people are going to be like, ‘Ah, I get it.'”

Encarnacion and Luke Voit will split time between first base and DH, and Cashman outlined an alignment for the returns of Judge and Stanton in which Stanton plays left field, Aaron Hicks plays center field and Judge plays right field.

That bumps Brett Gardner to a reserve role, though Cashman said that speaks to the increased flexibility that Encarnacion’s addition can provide.

“We felt it was a real impact bat; not an area of need, but an area that does upgrade us,” Cashman said. “I feel like every day Aaron Boone comes to the park, he has a chance to rest somebody of importance. That will benefit us moving forward. We have a chance to be covered injury-wise, because we have alternatives. He can play matchups a lot of different ways, too.”

Encarnacion spoke with pitcher Luis Severino immediately after learning about the trade, and they are both excited about the prospect of being teammates.

“I knew I was going to be traded. I didn’t know what team,” Encarnacion said. “I didn’t expect to be traded to the Yankees. There were a lot of other teams that had been talking about it. It surprised me the first time I heard it was the Yankees.”

Encarnacion is looking forward to serving as part of a wrecking crew with Judge and Stanton, the latter of whom is expected to travel to New York on Monday and be activated for Tuesday’s game.

“I can’t wait to see that,” Encarnacion said. “It’s going to be fun. I know we are going to hit a lot of home runs, and we’re going to win a lot of games, too.”

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.





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