The Yankees' first official move of the offseason was not an unexpected one.
They chose not to pick up Edwin Encarnacion’s $20 million option for 2020 on Thursday, triggering a $5 million buyout and making the righthanded-hitting slugger a free agent.
Encarnacion, 36, acquired from the Mariners in June, overall was productive for the Yankees, hitting 13 homers and producing an .856 OPS in 44 games. But he suffered two significant injuries that cost him time — a broken right wrist and, toward the end of the season, a strained left oblique.
He then turned in a mostly forgettable postseason. After going 4-for-9 with two doubles in the first two games of the Yankees’ ALDS sweep of the Twins, Encarnacion went 1-for-22 the rest of the postseason, including 1-for-18 with 11 strikeouts in the Yankees’ six-game loss to the Astros in the ALCS.
Though the highly respected veteran fit easily in the clubhouse — and quickly became a mentor to Gleyber Torres, who frequently sought out his advice on hitting — there currently is not a spot on the roster for a one-dimensional player like Encarnacion, who has 414 career home runs.
The Yankees also announced on Thursday that outfielder Aaron Hicks, who made a surprising late-season recovery from a flexor strain in his right elbow to play in the ALCS, had undergone UCL reconstruction surgery in Los Angeles and that the procedure went “as expected.”
Recovery time for Hicks should be roughly eight to 10 months, meaning a possible return sometime next summer.