11/12/10 4:42 PM EST
A's claim Encarnacion off waivers from Jays
Third baseman hit 21 homers in 96 games in 2010 season
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
Encarnacion batted .244 with 21 home runs and 51 RBIs in 96 games with the Blue Jays last year. His home run total amounted to more than any A's player, despite two stints on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder and sprained left wrist.
A's assistant general manager David Forst said Friday that, according to Encarnacion's agent, the infielder is "in great shape" and completely healthy. The A's front office, Forst mentioned, had eyes on Encarnacion when he was sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas for a couple of weeks in June and figured he might be available at some point. That time came Wednesday, when he was placed on waivers.
"He's coming off his best offensive year in the big leagues," Forst said, "and this gives us a chance to increase our options as far as the 25-man roster is concerned."
Oakland's 2010 home run leader was Kouzmanoff, who tallied 16 but struggled to find overall consistency at the plate in a year that concluded with a career-low .247 average and .679 OPS. His status for the coming season is now in question with the arrival of Encarnacion, a Dominican Republic native who initially came to Toronto as part of the Scott Rolen trade in the middle of the 2009 season.
The 29-year-old Kouzmanoff, despite offensive question marks, is widely regarded as one of the best defensive third basemen, a notion supported by impressive numbers at the hot corner. He tallied 12 errors in 142 games at third base in a 2010 season that resulted in just 99 combined errors by the A's -- fifth fewest in the American League. Encarnacion, meanwhile, committed 18 errors in 95 games.
Both third basemen are arbitration-eligible -- Kouzmanoff made $3.1 million in 2010, while Encarnacion brought home $4.75 million -- but neither should demand a hefty raise. The A's could potentially offer arbitration to both players by the Dec. 2 deadline but would likely look to trade one if given the opportunity to acquire a power bat.
"We certainly don't have to decide who our third baseman is for a few months," Forst said. "This creates another option for us, and we'll make those decisions when we need to."
Encarnacion, 27, is a career .258 hitter with 100 homers and 337 RBIs in 652 games throughout six seasons. He garnered a career-high 26 home runs in 2008 and has hit 13 long balls or more in each of the last five seasons.
The move came just two days after the A's plucked outfielder David DeJesus from Kansas City in exchange for Vin Mazzaro and Justin Marks and four days after the club won bidding rights to negotiate with Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma.