Third Base Options For The Indians

Indians GM Chris Antonetti told Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that finding a third baseman will be one of his main jobs this winter. Here’s a look at needs, options and possible solutions for the Tribe:

The Goal

It would make sense to sign someone who can play third for a year while Jared Goedert and Lonnie Chisenhall develop into major league regulars. Goedert, 25, batted .283/.358/.532 with 27 homers in the upper minors this year. Chisenhall, who turned 22 this week, had a strong season at Double-A, but likely needs seasoning. 

Antonetti told Hoynes that he’d like to see improved infield defense next year, so free agents who can hold their own at the hot corner will appeal to Cleveland's front office.

The Options

Jayson Nix, Cord Phelps, Luis Valbuena and Andy Marte are internal options for the Indians, but none of the four have guarantees and it seems more likely that the Indians will add someone from outside the organization.

Adrian Beltre is a fantastic defender, but he has set himself up for a long-term deal and the Indians are probably not looking to make a long-term commitment to a third baseman given their minor league depth at the position.

Lots of other third basemen hit free agency this winter; the Indians could approach Jorge Cantu, Melvin Mora, Miguel Tejada, Brandon Inge or Juan Uribe about a deal. All of those players should draw interest from multiple teams – Inge has discussed a deal with the Tigers – but there should be plenty of alternatives.

Joe Crede has a reputation as a good defender and could look to return next year after sitting out the 2010 season. Felipe Lopez and Pedro Feliz could also be considerations for the Tribe, but, like Crede, both come with question marks.

Kevin KouzmanoffJose Lopez and Edwin Encarnacion are all non-tender candidates and could be available via trade or, by December, free agency.

A Possible Solution

The Indians have lots of choice, but here’s one solution I’d like to see: longtime Indian Omar Vizquel paired with Edwin Encarnacion (if he’s non-tendered). Vizquel, a switch-hitter who handles right-handers better than left-handers, could face tough righties and be a late-game defensive replacement at third and short. Encarnacion, who mashes lefties, could start against all southpaws and lots of right-handers. 

The Indians may not have the chance to sign either player and even if they’re both available, there are surer ways for Antonetti to improve his infield defense than combining a 44-year-old with someone who has played below average defense in every season of his career (Encarnacion’s career UZR/150 is -11.7).

But Vizquel can still get on base (.341 OBP in 2010) and play all around the infield and Encarnacion definitely has power. It’s one fun option to think about, even if the Jays decide Encarnacion is worth $5-6MM in arbitration and Vizquel re-signs with the White Sox.


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21 Comments on "Third Base Options For The Indians"


The_Silver_Stacker
4 years 10 months ago

Lonnie Chisenhall is an interesting prospect to watch, he seems like he could develop some serious power at 3b and has a very good eye and a solide glove. I hope it works out for the Indians

Hermie13
4 years 10 months ago

Chiz’s best attribute is his swing….he’s got one of (if not the) prettiest swings in the minor leagues.

I don’t know about “serious” power at 3B but I do think he can be a Carlos Baerga type guy. I think he’ll hit .300 with 200+ hits and 15-20 HRs. He doesn’t really steal bases but isn’t a bum out there. And as said, his defense has really picked up since his first 2 months at 3B in 2009 (he made like 15 errors in that stretch).

Between Chiz and Kipnis….the Tribe seems set at 3B and 2B. Need Cabrera to pull his head out of his butt at SS (both offensively and defensively)…..and if Laporta can get healthy and hit like scouts felt he could……Tribe could have one of the best all-around young infields in baseball in 2012. Chiz, Cabreara, Kipnis, LaPorta and then Santana behind the dish……with Grady, Brantley, and Choo in the OF?

Get a #1 or #2 starter and this team can make the playoffs in 2012 IMO.

BravesRed
4 years 10 months ago

Why bring Beltre in when they have two prospects waiting in the wings? Beltre, or I should say Boras probably wants a 3-4 year deal in the upwards of 50-60 million, which is probably out of the Indians price range.

Backup_Slider
4 years 10 months ago

I’m thinking that’s what the author meant when he wrote “Adrian Beltre is a fantastic defender, but he has set himself up for a long-term deal and the Indians are probably not looking to make a long-term commitment to a third baseman given their minor league depth at the position.”

Bob George
4 years 10 months ago

Why is Conor Jackson on this list? He’s played a grand total of 2 innings at 3b. In the minor leagues he played a total of 6 games at 3b. You really think he’s suddenly going to become a regular 3b? That’s ridiculous.

4 years 10 months ago

Because, let’s be honest, he’s not going to be any worse over there than Encarnacion.

cookmeister
4 years 10 months ago

take Callaspo or Brandon Wood

qudjy1
4 years 10 months ago

Mark Reynolds?

The_Porcupine
4 years 10 months ago

None of those options are appealing. If you have to choose one, I’d say go after Inge, Kouz, or Crede- really only because they are solid defensively. I wouldn’t expect any to do much offensively, though I’d like to see what Kouz. does in a ballpark that doesn’t favor pitchers so much.

The_Porcupine
4 years 10 months ago

None of those options are appealing. If you have to choose one, I’d say go after Inge, Kouz, or Crede- really only because they are solid defensively. I wouldn’t expect any to do much offensively, though I’d like to see what Kouz. does in a ballpark that doesn’t favor pitchers so much.

Hermie13
4 years 10 months ago

Yeah you left off IMO the two best options for the Tribe outside of Omar (who they tried to sign last year and offered more money) and Inge….

Nick Punto and Bill Hall.

Punto has a bit option coming to him. With Hardy, Hudson, and Valencia higher priorities on the infield, will the Twins really pay Punto over $5M to be a utility infielder? Can they pay him that and not pay Thome the same after this season?!

I think unless he accepts a big pay cut from the Twins, he could be playing elsewhere. Punto plays all 3 infield spots and plays them all above average. Good vet and if Phelps or Chisenhall show they’re ready for 3B he can always slide back into that utility role that he’s been in for much of his career.

Bill Hall had a fine season in Boston….but is a team going to give him a multi-year deal? Will a contending team offer him a starting role? I think the answer to both are “no”….though Jamey Carroll did get a multi-year deal so it’s possible.

If the Tribe convinced Bill Hall that he’d start at 3B (versus a place like Boston where even if Beltre leaves, he’ll have to fight for at-bats), I think they can land him. A chance to start on a 1-year deal could be the best thing for Hall. If he proves he’s back, could be in line for a bigger deal in 2012 (sort of like Beltre this year). Hall is an above average defensive 3B as well. Can also play some 2B and OF, which the Tribe may need with Grady coming back from injury and so many young guys in the lineup. Hall could easily play 6 days a week in Cleveland without stunting any young players.

Tribe also could use the right-handed power.

Brandon Inge is my personal fav choice (outside of Omar which I can’t see happening). He can start at 3B and give us the defense we need. Provides right handed power. And while he K’s a ton….so too did Peralta so not like we haven’t seen that at 3B before.

Plus the bonus here is he can still catch. Manny Acta has hinted at the idea of a 3rd catcher several times. They have talked about Santana at 1B on “off-days”…but DH may still be there with the knee injury. Acta hates having one of his 2 catchers DH….having a guy like Inge as that emergency 3rd catcher would be huge.

He too can play some OF to spell Grady on occasion.

Trouble with Inge is I don’t think he’ll accept a 1-year deal in Cleveland. If that’s all anyone is offering, I bet he goes back to Detroit first.

So given the odds of getting them + what they bring, my preference is:

1. Hall
2. Punto
3. Inge
4. Omar (would love him the most, but again think he’s a lock to re-sign in Chicago)

Hermie13
4 years 10 months ago

Yeah you left off IMO the two best options for the Tribe outside of Omar (who they tried to sign last year and offered more money) and Inge….

Nick Punto and Bill Hall.

Punto has a bit option coming to him. With Hardy, Hudson, and Valencia higher priorities on the infield, will the Twins really pay Punto over $5M to be a utility infielder? Can they pay him that and not pay Thome the same after this season?!

I think unless he accepts a big pay cut from the Twins, he could be playing elsewhere. Punto plays all 3 infield spots and plays them all above average. Good vet and if Phelps or Chisenhall show they’re ready for 3B he can always slide back into that utility role that he’s been in for much of his career.

Bill Hall had a fine season in Boston….but is a team going to give him a multi-year deal? Will a contending team offer him a starting role? I think the answer to both are “no”….though Jamey Carroll did get a multi-year deal so it’s possible.

If the Tribe convinced Bill Hall that he’d start at 3B (versus a place like Boston where even if Beltre leaves, he’ll have to fight for at-bats), I think they can land him. A chance to start on a 1-year deal could be the best thing for Hall. If he proves he’s back, could be in line for a bigger deal in 2012 (sort of like Beltre this year). Hall is an above average defensive 3B as well. Can also play some 2B and OF, which the Tribe may need with Grady coming back from injury and so many young guys in the lineup. Hall could easily play 6 days a week in Cleveland without stunting any young players.

Tribe also could use the right-handed power.

Brandon Inge is my personal fav choice (outside of Omar which I can’t see happening). He can start at 3B and give us the defense we need. Provides right handed power. And while he K’s a ton….so too did Peralta so not like we haven’t seen that at 3B before.

Plus the bonus here is he can still catch. Manny Acta has hinted at the idea of a 3rd catcher several times. They have talked about Santana at 1B on “off-days”…but DH may still be there with the knee injury. Acta hates having one of his 2 catchers DH….having a guy like Inge as that emergency 3rd catcher would be huge.

He too can play some OF to spell Grady on occasion.

Trouble with Inge is I don’t think he’ll accept a 1-year deal in Cleveland. If that’s all anyone is offering, I bet he goes back to Detroit first.

So given the odds of getting them + what they bring, my preference is:

1. Hall
2. Punto
3. Inge
4. Omar (would love him the most, but again think he’s a lock to re-sign in Chicago)

Backup_Slider
4 years 10 months ago

Let’s face the facts here. The Indians stink now and will stink in 2011. Their attendance is horrendously low (esp. relative to the early years when the stadium was simply known as “The Jake”). Chisenhall is clearly their 3rd baseman of the future, but he’ll only make the club if he crushes the ball in spring training and that seems rather unlikely. So it makes sense to me that the Tribe goes into spring training 2011 with a free-for-all competition at third between Goedert, Marte, Valbuena, and Nix and award the position to whichever of those one (or two) players performs the best in spring training. How the Indians’ MLB season plays out (specifically how well those 3b guys perform) and how Chisenhall’s AAA season progresses will determine when Chisenhall gets to stake his claim to the job. Signing a free agent third baseman or trading for a thridbaseman just doesn’t make sense to me.

Hermie13
4 years 10 months ago

Lets’s fact the facts here…

If Chiz hits 20 HRs and bats 1.000 in spring training, he still will NOT make the club out of spring training. Kid hasn’t played in AAA yet and why would the Tribe give up a year of controllability in a year that you think the Tribe will stink in? That is stupid.

Chiz will be up at the absolute earliest late May/early June as to get that 7th year of controllability plus avoid Super Two status, much like the Indians did with Santana and the Nats, Marlins, Pirates, etc did with Strasburg, Stanton, and Alveraz.

And again, the Indians infield was HORRIBLE in 2010 defensively. Masterson’s ERA was in the high 4’s….yet he had one of the best xFIPs in the AL at 3.98! Tribe MUST, MUST, MUST, MUST fix the defense so that our young pitchers don’t struggle as much again. We have way too many groundball pitchers and way too few strikeout guys to not fix this area.

SS and 2B are pretty much set (AC and Donald) as is 1B with LaPorta….so 3B is the area that absolutely positively must be upgraded defensively.

Again, Antonetti the new GM is the one that is also saying this, so I would be shocked if a FA 3B isn’t brought in (or a trade for someone). Maybe the Tribe trades a non-spec minor leaguer to the A’s for Kouz if the A’s are set on DFAing him. Not a gold glover (despite his high UZR this year) but is a big upgrade defensively at 3B. Can play 1 year or half a year til Chiz is ready. Still more a fan of signing a vet (Nix and Donald are the 2 oldest infielders we have now assuming Marte is DFAed).

Backup_Slider
4 years 10 months ago

Let’s face the facts here. The Indians stink now and will stink in 2011. Their attendance is horrendously low (esp. relative to the early years when the stadium was simply known as “The Jake”). Chisenhall is clearly their 3rd baseman of the future, but he’ll only make the club if he crushes the ball in spring training and that seems rather unlikely. So it makes sense to me that the Tribe goes into spring training 2011 with a free-for-all competition at third between Goedert, Marte, Valbuena, and Nix and award the position to whichever of those one (or two) players performs the best in spring training. How the Indians’ MLB season plays out (specifically how well those 3b guys perform) and how Chisenhall’s AAA season progresses will determine when Chisenhall gets to stake his claim to the job. Signing a free agent third baseman or trading for a thridbaseman just doesn’t make sense to me.

mrsjohnmiltonrocks
4 years 10 months ago

Whoever said Bill Hall for a nice kind of stop-gap player for the Indians-I like that. They can plug him in all around the infield and outfield and he can hold his own still at third/ss-places where the Indians can use some help. He’s experienced, a good guy, and probably wouldn’t cost all that much. Give him a 2 year deal and make him your new Jamey Carrol, only with less OBP and more pop. If all goes well with the Indians youngsters, Bill Hall could go in a trade, or not. His skill set comes in handy on a lot of teams, including a team like the Indians.

Hermie13
4 years 10 months ago

See….I’m not a fan of giving Hall 2 guaranteed years. Cause come 2012 he will be on the bench and really have no place for at-bats. OF will have Grady, Brantley, and Choo. Even if the Tribe trades Grady, Weglarz will be up in 2011 to take over LF.

Infield will have Chiz, AC, Kipnis, and Laporta with Phelps as a backup (or traded).

Only place he could fit is a utility guy (would be way too expensive for the Tribe in that role) or starting SS if AC struggles.

Maybe give Hall 1 year plus a mutual option that either party can decline? That way if the Tribe has a starting spot for him, he may accept. If we don’t, he’d leave. Would work out for both clubs better IMO.

mrsjohnmiltonrocks
4 years 10 months ago

Yeah, I’ll go with what you said. I’m just thinking that with injuries, growing pains, and fatigue issues over the course of the long season, that Hall would be useful. Even on a two year contract, but it could be 1 year with an option. They have never found the player to adequately replace Carrol. Hall could do that.

Hermie13
4 years 10 months ago

I disagree. Nix is fine as a utility infielder. He just shouldn’t be starting. I mean, he hit 10 HRs and stole 12 bases in 2009, then hit 14 HRs in 2010. Yes, OBP is horrible but he brings some skills as a utility player. He’s a very solid defensive 2B (horrible 3B, though he has barely played there prior to this season).

Plus, Jason Donald (if not traded) is a near lock to be bumped to the utility infielder role as soon as July of this year with Jason Kipnis destroying minor league pitching. If he keeps it up in AAA next spring, he could be up before Chisenhall.

slidingintobase
4 years 10 months ago

Sounds like the Indians may be looking for someone to help for just a year. If Crede is interested, that might be a good option. He might provide a good defensive role model.

4 years 10 months ago

Andy LaRoche, who is with the Pirates is probably a player they could get for a low investment. Walker and Alvarez have made him expendable. Hes a decent hitter and plays pretty good defense. IMO, hes another option for the Tribe