Sources told Feinsand that the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays were actively involved with the Seattle Mariners regarding Encarnacion, but were unwilling to take on as much salary as the Yankees ultimately did. Even further, the Colorado Rockies were in the mix to a lesser extent.
Encarnacion, 36, is owed roughly $15 million, including a $5-million buyout on next season's $20-million team option. The Yankees split the remaining amount, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. In exchange, the Mariners acquired right-handed pitching prospect Juan Then, who immediately became the No. 16 prospect in Seattle's system, per MLB Pipeline.
Somewhat coincidentally, the Rays are already paying $5 million of Encarnacion's 2019 salary as a result of the three-team trade they made with the Mariners and Cleveland Indians this past winter.
Among AL clubs, the Astros rank third-last in offensive production at first base, according to FanGraphs, ahead of only the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals. Meanwhile, the Rays rank among the league's best, relying on a tandem of Yandy Diaz and Ji-Man Choi.
At designated hitter, both the Rays and Astros rank among the top five in the AL, with a 135 and 128 wRC+, respectively. Tampa Bay has relied on breakout campaigns from Austin Meadows and Avisail Garcia at DH, while Houston recently called up top prospect Yordan Alvarez, who has four home runs through his first five career games.
Encarnacion is expected to make his Yankees debut this week against the Rays, with outfielder Clint Frazier being optioned to make room on the active roster. The three-time All-Star leads the AL with 21 home runs while authoring an .888 OPS.