It has become an annual game to see how the Indians will prevent Yandy Diaz from receiving regular playing time. Trading away Encarnacion can open up playing time for the young slugger.
Diaz is still a pre-arbitration player and will earn a minimal salary, compared to the huge chunk of payroll committed to Encarnacion.
But this argument goes deeper than Diaz.
There is the possibility that the Indians can’t find a trade partner for Jason Kipnis. If that is the case, the team may want to move on from him being in the infield. He could even get some time as DH, as opposed to hurting the defense by putting him in the outfield.
This doesn’t solve the team’s Kipnis problem, but if he is staying and Terry Francona plans on playing him anyway, better for him to DH than to be in the outfield.
Perhaps Bobby Bradley can even get a shot in the DH spot. I know a lot of fans would like to see that.
Trading Encarnacion does take a big bat out of the lineup. But he will be in his age-36 season in 2019 and getting his contract off the books this offseason would not be part of some sort of rebuild.
It would be a proactive move to remain a contender, as opposed to some teams who hold onto big contracts as players begin to decline, losing out on the chance to get major-league ready value in return.