What to do with Ender Inciarte?

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.

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

21 thoughts on “What to do with Ender Inciarte?”

  1. It was talked about ad nauseum before the season started that we would see individual outlier seasons. Obviously the interesting ones were the last time a player hit .400 after 60 games or something like that. And I had wondered how we would respond to players who have an outlier season in the opposite direction. A guy starts off slow, the pressure of the short season mounts, and it ends up being a lost season. There will probably be LOTS of guys that don’t finish within a mile of their usual production for the season.

    I don’t think that Ender is a .507 OPS hitter who makes defensive blunders nightly. It’s well-documented that Ender is a headcase. He strikes me as exactly the guy who would start slow and feel the pressure of fleeting time. When it carries onto the field, we almost always attribute that to a mental issue. I would just “IL” him for a couple weeks and let him just hit the reset button. With that $11M price tag for next year, he’s not going anywhere. We’re not going to DFA him, at least yet, and no one is going to take him back in a trade even if we paid his entire salary. So why bother doing anything? He’s clearly declining as a player, but as whacky as this season is, he might just be a COVID Casualty.

  2. By the way, one nice thing about having a non-waivers trade deadline at the end of August is that the team that is buyer is buying less of the player (one month instead of two), so I would think the cost would be less.

  3. @3, maybe, but many teams are buying the player for how he will help in the (longer) postseason, not just how he can help them make the postseason. With more teams in the postseason this year, there should be more buyers and fewer sellers, so the cost might be greater.

  4. What a stupid article. They can’t play the remainder of their games because they haven’t played enough to this point? We went into this season knowing there would be outbreaks and not all teams would play 60 games. Why wasn’t there a plan for what to do about this? Make it where you have to play at least 45 games, and then they would go off of winning percentage. If you didn’t hit 45, you weren’t eligible for the postseason. But you don’t just cancel their season. Of course Deadspin would put that out…

  5. coop, if I read another “sky is falling” article from a journalist, I might need to just go live in a cave.

  6. The podcast landed an interview with Braves Prospect Trey Harris for Sunday night. If you have any questions for Trey, please put them here.

  7. I actually think there’s a decent argument to be made that the Cardinals season should just be chalked off at this point (though we’re not there yet, in my opinion), especially if they’re gonna have another wave of positive cases and will therefore have to go another week without playing (I doubt they’ve really been together a lot recently, so if it’s just this one case or this turns out to be a false positive, they can probably get started either this weekend or Monday).

    The problem is that this article didn’t really make it because it’s Deadspin and so the writer had to bathe in their Cardinals hatred for a couple paragraphs and jam in a series of pointlessly gratuitous obscene references. And to be clear, I don’t have a problem with either thing per se (the anti-Cardinals and Best Fans in Baseball venom is possibly the only redeeming value of Deadspin at this point IMO), but are you trying to make a legitimate argument or are you trying to write a standard jokey throwaway Deadspin article? Not entirely clear.

    The writer danced around a couple points that could be made in favor of such a move, but since they were so busy implying that Cardinals fans can’t do basic arithmetic and finding the grossest possible way to describe jamming doubleheaders into the schedule, it kind of gets lost.

  8. @12, I get your frustration, but after dozens of positive cases in that organization, I think it’s time to start asking when enough is enough. Can they truly keep their people safe? Shouldn’t that be the most important question?

    The funny thing is Deadspin’s founder, Will Leitch, is a diehard Cardinals fan and he founded the site explicitly to allow fans to write from the perspective of fans.

  9. Calm down, Rob. Alex said it best – when is enough sickness enough? That’s all that’s being argued here.

    As far as Deadspin is concerned I’ll take them and Russo over Rosenthal and that plummy Athletic crew any day.

  10. Lineup posted, no transactions. I can’t deny that I’m disappointed. Cristian Pache should’ve been a Major Leaguer today.

  11. I too am very disappointed. It says something when I think I would take the top 6 of Marlins lineup over our top 6 right now. Do you prefer:

    Swanson
    D’arnaud
    Freeman
    Ozuna
    Duvall
    Markakis

    or

    Villar
    Aguilar
    Dickerson
    Joyce
    Anderson
    Cervelli

  12. Surprising move: The Cleveland Baseball Team removed Clevinger from restricted list and optioned him to the alternate training site.

    Clevinger went out on the town with Zach Plesac in Chicago. Plesac got caught and sent home. Clevinger played coy and flew home with the team before getting got.

    I wonder if there’s a union grievance coming — can a team option a player to the minors as punishment?

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