Early predictions for the 2017 American League pennant gravitated toward the Boston Red Sox moments after they signed flame-throwing southpaw Chris Sale during the 2016 Major League Baseball Winter Meetings.
The Cleveland Indians disregarded this notion by reaching for their wallet and making a league-wide statement on Thursday evening.
Edwin Encarnacion and the Tribe agreed to terms on a three-year deal worth $55-million plus a $5-million buyout, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports and Fox's Ken Rosenthal.
Rosenthal's report states Encarnacion has a fourth-year option worth $25-million that would maximize his contract to a total of $80-million if the Indians choose to exercise the deal prior to the 2020 campaign.
Hailing from the Dominican Republic, the 33-year old slugger has established himself atop the game's list of elite hitters thanks to belting a career-high 42 home runs and a league-leading 127 RBIs (tied with David Ortiz) with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016.
Encarnacion has 310 career bombs, has nearly eclipsed the 1,000 RBI plateau (942 RBIs) and features a distinctive home run trot around the base paths that uniquely places his bent right arm parallel to the ground before meeting the third base coach.
This one-of-a-kind flair meshes well with a city eager for their first World Series ring since 1948.
In a clash of two low-revenue organizations, the Indians surpassed the Oakland Athletics and stood out as a favorable landing spot for Encarnacion to fill the void left by free agent 1B Mike Napoli.
With Napoli testing the waters of free agency and failing to receive a qualifying offer from the Tribe, the opportunity to acquire a power-hitting bat fit perfectly into the club's 2017 blueprint.
Napoli's days in Cleveland are likely numbered despite setting career-highs in home runs (34) and RBIs (101) in 2016.
As a result of the transaction, the Indians will lose their first round selection in the 2017 MLB Draft and will not pick until pick 70.
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.