Parrots are a damn cool bird. Majestic... colorful... the ability to mimic the words of their owners. Unfortunately, Edwin’s bird is pretty insufferable these days. The four-letter words that winged-beast must be muttering on a nightly basis are crude and entirely unnecessary. She’s a product of her environment, and I can’t imagine she’s surrounded by overwhelming positivity lately.
Today was good though. Good, nice words were uttered today.
That’s not to say it’s Edwin’s fault lately. He’s a good father. A caring, nurturing father. One of those dads that would do anything for the birds and boys around him. Unfortunately, the boys surrounding him are a futile bunch, broken beyond immediate repair. They’re a lost group of souls, but not by way of Papa Parrot, that’s for sure.
In fact, Encarnacíon has largely been the only reason the team appears buoying above water these days. Since June 1, he’s swatted seven dingers and driven in twelve RBIs. Both lead all of baseball.
She’s been a proud, busy little bird.
His defense at first base has been far better than many forecasted this year. He’s on pace for another 4.5 WAR season. He’s clearly a valuable piece, but a piece Seattle won’t be able to fully appreciate in 2019.
Encarnacíon and his aviary are the most likely to take flight out of town before the July 31 deadline, and the Tampa Bay Rays may be the most logical nesting spot.
The Rays have platooned Ji-Man Choi and Yandy Diaz at first base this year, but both are largely unproven. Their combined 1.7 WAR and 117 wRC+ is surely impressive, albeit unexpected. One could imagine regression is the most likely outcome as the season churns on.
So what would a return look like? The Rays don’t have the biggest payroll, so you can expect Seattle would have to send a decent chunk of change to swing a deal. Encarnacíon will be owed roughly $8 million after the July 31 deadline. There’s also a $5 million 2020 buyout, paving his way to free agency after this season.
Encarnacíon will surely net more than Jay Bruce did, assuming Seattle sends the $8 million owed for this season. Let’s identify three names that make the most sense.
SS Lucius Fox
Frankly, Seattle could use a guy like Batman in their corner right now. Fox isn’t a superhero himself, but he knows a guy who could help Bale Seattle out.
Truth be told, I thought Fox was going to be in the return for Mike Zunino during the offseason deal that sent Mallex Smith to the PNW. That was not to be, but this could be another opportunity to bring him in.
Fox is a true shortstop. He runs extremely well and plays well above-average in the field. He’s struggled this season at the plate (.203/.332/.346), but has a track record of success at the dish. Just 21 years old, Fox is being tested at AA Montgomery. He’s on an aggressive trajectory, one Seattle could dial back or push forward depending on their philosophy.
Fox is going to have an awfully difficult time finding a spot with the Rays. With former top prospect Willie Adames performing at the big league level, and heralded top prospect Wander Franco not far behind, he’s likely expendable.
Baseball America has Fox listed as the 22nd best prospect in the Rays system, but could easily slot inside the Top 12 in Seattle.
RHP Ian Gibaut
Tampa Bay just oozes talent when it comes to relief pitchers and Gibaut fits that bill. Jose Alvarado and Diego Castillo are perfect examples of high-impact arms thrust into the bullpen paying immediate dividends this year. Gibaut represents a shutdown righty with the potential to close out ballgames at the big league level, though he’s likely better suited as a high-leverage 8th inning guy.
Saddled with a high-90s fastball and hard, heavy slider, Gibaut’s repetoire has some similarities to that of Dan Altavilla. Like the latter, Gibaut is still working to refine his command with both pitches. At 25 years old, Gibaut would be expected to contribute immediately in 2019. Already on the 40-man roster, he may be thrown onto the active 25 should a deal happen.
Gibaut is the 17th ranked prospect in the Rays system and would likely profile into the Top 15 in Seattle.
LHP Colin Poche
Poche represents a southpaw reliever that could probably help Seattle out immediately. At 25 years old, Poche received his first cup of coffee just last night with Tampa Bay, struggling in 1.1 innings of work. He did end up striking out three of the four outs he recorded.
Poche was easily the most dominant reliever in Tampa Bay’s system last year, posting a 0.82 ERA in 66 innings of work.
Poche brings a low 90s fastball that explodes into the zone with late life. Hitters are regularly late on the deceiving heater, allowing his below average breaking stuff to play up at times. There have been some comparisons made to Nationals shutdown reliever Sean Doolittle in the past, primarily because he’s a fastball heavy guy that relies on deception.
Poche would easily represent the best left-handed relief pitching prospect in Seattle’s system if they’re insistent on keeping Justus Sheffield in a rotation.
Baseball America currently tabs Poche as the 19th best prospect in Tampa’s system and he too would likely slot into the Top 12 in Seattle.
In trade negotiations, Seattle could very well go the way of requesting a couple lottery ticket pitchers instead of players close to immediately contributing. The farm system needs an injection of life at both AAA and Low-A. Encarnacíon is almost assuredly on the move this year, and Tampa may make the most sense.
We’ll examine other suitors in the coming days and weeks.
If you need me, I’ll be avoiding Parrot Bay rum at all costs.