While I’m not likely the most critical of the gold glove outfielder, there’s no one who has fake traded Ender Inciarte more than me. When I wrote for Walk-off Walk, my most viewed piece was my 7 fake trades for Ender. I once lost a bet on Twitter and my punishment was to create 50 fake trades involving Ender. Many accuse me of hating a man I’ve never met because he blocked me years ago. That’s silly. My main reason for wanting to trade him every year for the past 3 years was simple: He’s a one-skill standout…and that’s dangerous.
A Warning Sign We all Remember
Remember Dan Uggla? Remember loving the trade? Boy, I do. I was excited that he’d be batting cleanup behind Chipper Jones crushing dingers left and right. And the extension that followed?! I didn’t listen to the naysayers and their warnings. I’ve learned since, and I’ve learned that players with 1 standout skill are remarkably risky. Uggla’s was power that dissipated with age and slower bat speed. Ender’s, an elite glove that’s losing its luster because the legs are slowing.
Like the Uggla extension, to the casual fan, Ender’s team-friendly deal through the 2021 season looked like a real win for the Braves. However, now that he’s in the next to last year of the deal, the fans collective “uh oh” can now be heard all over the Internet as 9MM for a non-hitting, average defensive CFer (don’t blame me, look at the metrics), is the exact opposite of bargain, especially when a generational defensive talent is waiting at Gwinnett for a chance at stardom.
Braves Options for Ender Inciarte
In a year that will go down as one of the most bizarre years in history, what to do with Ender Inciarte seems like a small problem. However, when factoring in the 9MM owed in 2021, the issue becomes slightly larger. I half expected Ender would become a 4th OF type in 2021, but it’s actually much worse than that as he’s performing poorly on both sides of the ball. Realistically, what can the Braves do?
- DFA him. This is the most risky thing. In all likelihood, no one would claim him and he’d pass through waivers. Since he has more than 5 years of MLB experience, he could then refuse his assignment to the minors (or in this case, to the Gwinnett camp) then any team could sign him for the MLB minimum and the Braves would be on the hook for his 2020 and 2021 salary.
- Keep him. It feels like this is what’s going to happen considering the uncertainty in this bizarre season. I don’t have to like it though.
- Trade him. No one’s going to give anything for him, but the Braves might be able to find an expensive starting pitcher under team control that’s playing on a dead-end team, add a prospect and maybe a reliever, and get a deal done. Johnny Cueto comes to mind.
Another Idea…and it isn’t mine
MLB Trade Rumors has a $30 membership plan that comes with some weekly subscriber features, but they just sent a trade idea to registered users that involved the Braves and Diamondbacks where the Braves grab Robbie Ray and Merrill Kelly. To even out the $, maybe Ender could return back to the desert along with multiple young players.
Whatever happens with Ender, Braves fans will always have 2016-2018 when Ender was one of the best defensive CFers in the game and collected 9 fWAR while being paid peanuts. We should all be thankful for that.