The Indians, Mariners and Rays on Thursday finalized the following three-team deal:• Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion and a Competitive Balance Round B Draft pick (77th overall in 2019) go from the Indians to the Mariners.• First baseman Carlos Santana and cash go from the Mariners to the Indians.• Infielder Yandy
The Indians, Mariners and Rays on Thursday finalized the following three-team deal:
• Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion and a Competitive Balance Round B Draft pick (77th overall in 2019) go from the Indians to the Mariners.
• First baseman Carlos Santana and cash go from the Mariners to the Indians.
• Infielder Yandy Diaz and Minor League righty Cole Sulser go from the Indians to the Rays.
• First baseman Jake Bauers and cash go from the Rays to the Indians.
The Rays are also sending the Mariners $5 million as part of the deal, which was first reported by MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. Interestingly, the Rays have interest in Encarnacion, who could be dealt by the Mariners. Rays officials say there's no secondary deal in place to acquire Encarnacion, who has one year and $21.6 million remaining on his contract, plus a $20 million option or a $5 million buyout for 2020.
After donning an Indians uniform for his first eight seasons in the Majors, Santana will have a homecoming in 2019. The 32-year-old spent his '18 season in Philadelphia after being signed as a free agent last December. The infielder slashed .229/.352/.414 last year with 24 homers and 86 RBIs. He was traded by the Phillies to the Mariners on Dec. 3 for shortstop Jean Segura, right-hander Juan Nicasio and lefty James Pazos. Santana is under contract for $34.5 million over the next two seasons and is reportedly "thrilled" to return to Cleveland, where he still has a home, according to Heyman.
Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto completed the trade from a hospital bed a day after being admitted for blood clots, although he was hopeful to head home to Seattle on Thursday.
"We were texting back and forth," Mariners assistant general manager Justin Hollander said. "Some of the ground work had been laid. [Dipoto] basically handed me the keys and said, 'You know what I want to do, roughly. Just check in when you have questions, but go run with it.'"
Encarnacion, who turns 36 in January, has been one of MLB's top sluggers over the past seven seasons while earning three All-Star berths in that span. He hit .246/.336/.474 with 32 home runs and 107 RBIs last year in 137 games, with 115 of those at designated hitter and the rest at first base.
Since 2012, the Dominican Republic native leads MLB in home runs with 263 and RBIs at 764. Cruz is second in both those categories in the same span at 254 and 688. Encarnacion was third in the AL in RBIs last season and tied for ninth in home runs.
In Cleveland, Diaz was blocked by veteran stars. Now, the Rays get a full look at a player who hit the baseball hard more consistently than almost anyone, according to Statcast™.
Of 504 players over the last two seasons -- those who've made contact at least 100 times -- Aaron Judge's 54.6-percent hard-hit rate is No. 1. Diaz ranks 19th at 47.6 percent.
So why has Diaz hit one home run in 265 at-bats? Because he has the eighth-lowest launch angle and 25th-highest ground-ball rate. If the Rays can get him to elevate the ball, they could have a star.
"We like him as is," Rays senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom said, "but any time you get a guy who hits the ball really hard, there's always additional upside, to the extent they can drive the ball a little bit. Even if he doesn't do that, we think he's a very polished hitter."
Here's more from Statcast™ on Diaz's hard-hit rate:
2017: 50.0 percent (MLB average 33.3 percent)
2018: 44.4 percent (MLB average 35.3 percent)
2017-18: 47.6 percent (MLB average 34.3 percent)
And there's this: Of the 504 players with 100-plus batted balls, three of the top 26 have been acquired by the Rays in the last six months:
• Diaz (19th), 47.6 percent
• Tommy Pham (23rd), 46.6 percent
• Mike Zunino (26th), 45.9 percent
"We're excited about his ability," Bloom said. "He fits in to what we have been doing, in terms of taking a player who we think is really talented, has a lot of ability and giving him a chance to establish himself."
Bauers played both first base and outfield for the Rays last season. After getting the callup to the big leagues in June, Bauers, 23, hit .201 with 11 homers and 48 RBIs in 388 plate appearances. The rookie would be used in the Indians' outfield after the team lost multiple outfielders to free agency at the end of the season.
Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com. Richard Justice, Greg Johns and Chad Thornburg contributed to this report.