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Indians continue aggressive pursuit of Encarnacion

Free agent names like Mike Napoli, Adam Lind, Mark Trumbo, Chris Carter and Edwin Encarnacion have all yet to find a destination this offseason. For the Cleveland Indians, Encarnacion appears to be a potential candidate to take over for Napoli weeks after he reportedly turned down an offer of $80-million over four years from the Toronto Blue Jays. The IBI's John Alfes details all the latest rumors...

The market for premium relief pitching is dwindling at a rather rapid pace. Hurlers like Brad Ziegler (Miami Marlins), Aroldis Chapman (New York Yankees) and Mike Dunn (Colorado Rockies) have all relocated in an effort to cement the back end of their respective bullpens.

Unlike these newly-signed power arms, the market for some of the game's finest sluggers has yet to take form. Headlined by free agent Edwin Encarnacion, the Cleveland Indians have been patient in finding a first base bat that also includes the likes of Mike Napoli, Chris Carter, Adam Lind and others.

The latest rumor regarding Encarnacion says the Tribe has been "pulling out all the stops" in their search for the 33-year-old, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman.

The scenario of acquiring a middle of the order bat like Encarnacion is certainly intriguing after he finished the 2016 campaign with a .263 (158-601) batting average, 42 home runs and a league-leading 127 RBIs (tied with David Ortiz).

Because he was not dealt a qualifying offer, Napoli's return to Cleveland appears to be questionable at best. Encarnacion would fit well into the Indians mold by replacing Napoli and potentially signing a multi-year deal after it was also reported by Heyman that Encarnacion has received both three- and four-year offers from at least five other teams.

The major blockade to signing the corner infielder is his signability entailing a contract likely upward of $20-million per year. In conjunction with his agent Paul Kinzer, Encarnacion already declined a four-year deal worth $80-million dollars from the Toronto Blue Jays at this year's winter meetings.

If asking price is not Encarnacion's main priority, then the defending American League Champions certainly have what it takes to make a run at adding another piece to their 2017 World Series puzzle.

John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.

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