CINCINNATI — Doubtlessly, fans all over Redsland who stayed up late to watch the American League Wild Card game or caught the highlights Wednesday morning are wondering:
“Why did the Reds trade Edwin Encarnacion?”
Encarnacion crushed the first pitch he saw in the 11th inning for a three-run home run to lift the Toronto Blue Jays over the Baltimore Orioles 5-2.
The merits of trading Encarnacion, Zach Stewart and Josh Roenicke for Scott Rolen have been debated since the trade to the Blue Jays in July 2009.
(Note to the kids: The Reds were ripped more at the time for trading Stewart than Encarnacion.)
The Reds made the trade for three reasons:
- They needed to fill the leadership vacuum in the clubhouse and change the attitude of the players. Rolen did that. He had the greatest influence on Joey Votto of any player. “He taught me all I needed to know about being a player in the time he was here,” Votto has said. The good run from 2010 to ’13 doesn’t happen if the Reds never get Rolen.
- Encarnacion proved he could not play third base. He’s finished first, second and third in errors in his career. He’s still fifth among active third basemen in errors, even though he hasn’t played there regularly since 2010.
- The Reds did not know Encarnacion would become the hitter he has. Nobody did. From 2005 to 2011, he hit .260/.336/.453 and averaged 25 home runs and 81 RBI. Since 2012, he’s hit 272/.367/.544 and averaged 42 home runs and 110 RBI. It’s rare that a player makes that kind of jump mid-career.
The Reds weren’t alone on being wrong on Encarnacion. The Blue Jays lost him to a waiver claim after the 2010 season to the Oakland A’s. The A’s granted him free agency two weeks after signing him. Toronto re-signed him a week later.
Encarnacion is great story. He’s a good guy. I'll give him credit for the hitter he’s become, but don’t blame the Reds for trading him -- save that for the Josh Hamilton-Edison Volquez deal.
John Fay is a freelance sports columnist; this column represents his opinion. Contact him at email@example.com.