If Cleveland Indians fans really want to show love for their team’s big offseason free-agent signing, then they should start packing the stands at Progressive Field.
Edwin Encarnacion recently signed a three-year, $60 million deal with the Tribe, but the veteran slugger could earn even more money based on a very interesting incentive in his new contract.
According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Encarnacion’s deal contains a clause that will allow the three-time All-Star to earn up to an additional $1 million per year based on Cleveland’s home attendance.
The Indians have ranked near the bottom of Major League Baseball in attendance in recent years. They haven’t drawn 2 million fans since 2008. Cleveland is coming off its first World Series berth since 1997, though, so the aforementioned incentive seems attainable this season with the city still buzzing.
Now, Encarnacion, who spent his last seven-plus seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, obviously didn’t sign with the Indians just because of the incentive clause. A million bucks pales in comparison to the contract’s total value, after all. But it sounds like it played a factor as he weighed his options in free agency, likely serving as a pot sweetener of sorts.
“Like I said when Edwin went on that run with Toronto, they were at 1.9 million in attendance and now they’re at 3.4 million,” Encarnacion’s agent, Paul Kinzer, told Cleveland.com. “Well, if Edwin contributes to that, he should be rewarded for it.
“To tell you the truth, we didn’t even know if we could do it. I threw it out there and (Indians president of baseball operations) Chris (Antonetti) had to call (the commissioner’s office). He called back and said we can do it.”
Encarnacion, who turns 34 on Saturday, is coming off a season in which he hit .263 with 42 home runs, 127 RBIs and an .886 OPS. He has slugged 193 homers over his last five seasons, a span in which only Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles has more long balls (197).
Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports Images