Encarnacion has continued working out every day in hopes of signing with a MLB team, Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports. Encarnacion batted .157/.250/.377 last season after hitting 30-plus homers for eight straight seasons from 2012 to 2019. At age 38, he hasn't found a team willing to bet that last year was an aberration. He may need to wait until the Triple-A season begins in May before signing with a team to add depth and prove he can still play in the majors.
The White Sox declined Encarnacion's $12 million club option for 2021 on Friday. It's not an overly surprising move, as no buyout was required and the veteran slugger posted a career-worst .627 OPS despite hitting 10 home runs in 2020. Encarnacion had 30-plus homers and an OPS over .800 in each of the previous eight seasons and figures to receive another opportunity, but he may not begin 2021 with guarantees of an everyday role.
Encarnacion returns to the bench for Game 3 of the Wild Card Round against Oakland on Thursday. Encarnacion started Game 2 on Wednesday, but that will wind up being his only start of the series. Eloy Jimenez returns from a sprained foot to serve as the designated hitter.
Encarnacion is not in the lineup for the first game of the Wild Card Round against the Athletics on Tuesday. Encarnacion had quite a disappointing season at the plate, hitting just .157/.250/.377 in 180 plate appearances. Yasmani Grandal will be the designated hitter Tuesday, with James McCann starting behind the plate.
Encarnacion went 1-for-4 with a solo home run and three strikeouts in Sunday's loss to the Reds. It was a microcosm of Encarnacion's season -- he ran into one, but there were too many empty swings. The 37-year-old's strikeout rate is now over 30 percent on the season, up from 21.2 percent last season and roughly double his rate from his prime years in Toronto.