CHICAGO - Edwin Encarnación and the White Sox finalized a $12 million, one-year contract on Thursday, putting him in position to become Chicago’s designated hitter and a part-time first baseman along with José Abreu.
Encarnación is due $12 million this season, and the White Sox hold a $12 million option for 2021 under the deal, which was agreed to Dec. 25 subject to a successful physical.
Encarnación hit 34 home runs in 109 games for Seattle and the Yankees last year. The three-time All-Star led the American League with 21 homers when the Mariners dealt him to New York in June. The Yankees declined a $25 million option for next season, opting to pay a $5 million buyout.
Encarnación batted .249 with 13 homers and 37 RBIs in 44 regular-season games with the Yankees, limited by oblique problems. He hit .308 while New York beat Minnesota in the AL Division Series, but was 1 for 18 with 11 strikeouts in the AL Championship Series against Houston.
Encarnación, who turned 37 on Tuesday, has eight straight seasons with more than 30 homers. He has 414 homers in 15 years with Cincinnati, Toronto, Cleveland, Seattle and New York. Last year he became the first major leaguer to play on three continents in one season, opening the season in Tokyo with the Mariners and going to London in June with the Yankees.
“Edwin is a professional hitter, someone who makes each and every at-bat count,” general Rick Hahn said in a statement. “His long track record of power is impressive and as a veteran run producer, Edwin adds another threatening bat to our lineup, lengthening our batting order and increasing (manager) Rick Renteria’s offensive options on any given night.”
The White Sox have been one of baseball’s busiest teams, adding to a promising young core. They hope to challenge in the AL Central after seven straight losing seasons.
Chicago also signed catcher Yasmani Grandal and pitchers Dallas Keuchel, Gio González and Steve Cishek to free-agent deals. Outfielder Nomar Mazara was acquired in a trade with the Texas Rangers.
Abreu, who led the AL with 123 RBIs last season, was re-signed to a $50 million, three-year deal, and top prospect Luis Robert agreed to a $50 million, six-year contract last week, clearing the way for the outfielder to begin the season in the majors.
The White Sox were 72-89 last season, well behind the 101-win Minnesota Twins and 93-win Cleveland Indians. But they believe they are in position to make a big jump after missing the playoffs for the 13th time in 14 years since their 2005 World Series championship. That’s because young players established themselves in the majors and promising prospects remain in the pipeline.
Tim Anderson led the majors with a .335 average last year. Yoán Moncada had a breakthrough season, hitting .315 with 25 homers and 79 RBIs. Eloy Jiménez showed pop as a rookie, with a .267 average, 31 homers and 79 RBIs. Prized outfielder Luis Robert figures to debut next spring, and top prospect Nick Madrigal might also be ready to get significant time at second base.
Keuchel and Gonzalez will join a rotation led by All-Star Lucas Giolito that also includes Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease. Promising young right-hander Michael Kopech is also expected to return following Tommy John surgery.