Carlos Santana Rumors

Indians Notes: Trade Deadline Options

Among teams that currently sit on the fence between buying and selling, the Indians certainly have among the most difficult choices. MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince recently looked at Cleveland's dilemma. (He also names the Phillies, Royals, Padres, and Rockies as 50/50 clubs.) Though the Indians made several prominent free agent acquisitions this year, Castrovince says, they did not do so with an eye solely on 2013. On the other hand, with the team facing several needs and sitting just 3.5 back of the division-leading Tigers despite a four-game skid, now may be the time to strike. Here are a few links addressing that issue:

  • While starting pitching may be an obvious place the Tribe could look to make an addition, Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal notes that there are many teams in on that market. Moreover, the options are relatively scarce. Ricky Nolasco is now taken, Cliff Lee would cost an immense sum in prospects and dollars, and Matt Garza is a hot commodity who hits free agency next year. With Jake Peavy injured, the only other prominent option may be Bud Norris, and Ocker opines that the team may be better off relying on his internal choices rather than reaching to pick up the steady-but-unspectacular Astros righty, who should command more in trade value than Nolasco given his younger age and team control.
  • Looking at available bats and relievers, Ocker again sees few options. He mentions Twins first baseman Justin Morneau as a possibility, but it is not clear that the pending free agent will be dealt, and if so whether he'll be worth what Minnesota will demand for a core player. Ocker ultimately concludes that GM Chris Antonetti may be best served by looking to shore up the back end of the bullpen.
  • Likewise, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer tackled the possibility of the Indians shopping for a starter. Ticking through the above-noted suspects (including Yovani Gallardo, whose no-trade list includes Cleveland), Hoynes offers some thoughts on what it may take to get Norris. He suggests that the Indians might need to give up righty Danny Salazar, outfielder Tyler Naquin, and one or more additional well-regarded prospects. While it's not clear that Norris would require quite that much in return, Hoynes implies that the price would be prohibitive. (For reference, Baseball America called Salazar the club's sixth-best prospect at the start of the year, with Naquin third on the list.) 
  • Hoynes ultimately says that the most likely route the Indians could take is to add a left-handed bullpen piece. With players like Matt Thornton (White Sox), Mike Gonzalez (Brewers), and Oliver Perez and Charlie Furbush of the Mariners potentially available, the club could look to improve its middling success at retiring opposing lefties.
  • Taking questions from readers, Hoynes offers that the Indians are unlikely to find adequate value were the team to try and acquire pitching in exchange for young, cost-controlled catcher Carlos Santana. He also rejects the concept of an attempt to nab the aforementioned Lee by dangling top prospect Francisco Lindor, especially given Lee's enormous salary. Hoynes does note that the organization has impressive middle infield depth at its lower level, and could be more flexible in utilizing such prospects in a deal. 

AL Central Notes: Indians, Twins

White Sox outfielder Casper Wells was perhaps the most successful pitcher yesterday for Chicago. The interesting backstory can be read here. The Sox gave up two ballgames in incredible fashion to the division rival Indians. Let's take a quick look at the Tribe, along with their American League Central foes from Minnesota:

  • Looking ahead for the Indians, Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal wonders whether this could be the last season that Carlos Santana toils behind the dish. With a Yan Gomes/Lou Marson tandem potentially capable of holding down the catching role, and Santana's offensive gifts outpacing his defensive development, Ocker says that Santana makes more sense as a first baseman/designated hitter going forward.
  • Of more immediate concern, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes that Cleveland's seeming rotation depth has suddenly dissolved. In his view, GM Chris Antonetti should be aggressive in looking to bolster the starting staff in advance of the trade deadline. Of course, the Indians would join a growing list of clubs looking to add starters from a relatively sparse pool of potentially available candidates.
  • The Twins haven't ruled out a September call-up for top prospect Miguel Sano this season, according to Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com. "I guess we'll let him dictate that," GM Terry Ryan said. "And certainly it'll be a little bit of a situation of what's going on with the major league team as well." Sano's trademark power has been evident this season, despite a .236 batting average in 17 Double-A games, and Ryan is also impressed with the third baseman's work on the defensive side of the ball. "His defense is better than his offense down there [at Double-A] to this point, which is good. I think anybody that's seen him realizes he's going to hit, and certainly in time I think he'll catch up with Double-A pitching."
  • Meanwhile, Ryan is keeping quiet on the team's plans in the pre-trade deadline period. As MLB.com's Kelly Erickson reports, the veteran GM says he has not even determined that the team will sell since Minnesota sits just seven games out of first. "People get a little jumpy at this time of year," says Ryan.

Aaron Steen contributed to this post.


Rosenthal On Hamilton, Hart, Pagan, Indians

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports spoke with agents and rival executives about where Josh Hamilton might land and the Nationals, Phillies, Mariners, and Orioles often came up in conversation.  The Phillies would appear to be a stretch for both financial and baseball reasons, but two industry sources say the club is quietly checking in on him.  It was reported earlier this week that the O's are targeting Hamilton but Rosenthal would be surprised if owner Peter Angelos, who emphasizes that his GMs find him players with a history of good conduct, can be talked into it.  Here's more from Rosenthal..

  • The Brewers are discussing a new deal with first baseman/right fielder Corey Hart.  The 30-year-old is seeking a three-year extension but the Brewers might prefer to give him two more years while increasing his 2013 salary.  Hart is under contract for one more season at $10MM.
  • Giants GM Brian Sabean expressed confidence that the team would re-sign free agents Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro, and Jeremy Affeldt.  Meanwhile, sources say that other teams are more aggressive than the Giants on Pagan right now.
  • It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Indians trade Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Chris Perez, and Justin Masterson, all of whom have two or fewer years of control remaining.  However, catcher/first baseman Carlos Santana, signed for four more years, is more likely to stay.


Extension Notes: Masterson, Kinsler, Santana

Ian Kinsler (five years, $75MM), Carlos Santana (five years, $21MM) and Brandon Phillips (six years, $72.5MM) are the latest star players to sign long-term extensions. Here's more extension chatter from around MLB…

  • The Indians have spoken to the representatives for Justin Masterson about an extension, but the sides appear to remain far apart, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. Talks seem to be on hold for the time being. Tim Dierkes suggested in January that a four-year deal in the $27MM range could work for the Indians and the Randy Rowley client.
  • Dave Cameron of FanGraphs shows that the aging curve for second basemen is pretty steep, but says the Kinsler contract was a deal worth doing for the Rangers.
  • Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has the year-to-year breakdown for Santana's deal (on Twitter).
  • Mike Axisa explains that the Santana extension doesn't provide the Indians with a substantial discount in a piece at FanGraphs. However, the Indians did extend their control over the catcher.

Indians Extend Carlos Santana

The Indians announced that they have agreed to a five-year extension with switch-hitting catcher Carlos Santana. The deal, which includes a club option for 2017, is worth $21MM in guaranteed money. Santana is represented by Andy Mota of the Wasserman Media Group.

The contract covers the 2012-16 seasons: Santana's final two pre-arbitration seasons and his three arbitration seasons. If exercised, the club option would keep Santana in Cleveland for his first free agent season.

Cleveland acquired the switch-hitting Santana from the Dodgers for Casey Blake at the 2008 trade deadline. The 26-year-old went on to blossom into one of the game's best catching prospects, twice ranking in the top-30 of Baseball America's annual top 100 prospects list. Santana has hit .244/.364/.464 in roughly a year and a half as a big leaguer, and last season he hit .239/.351/.457 with 27 homers while splitting time behind the plate and at first base.

Santana was called up in early-June of 2010 and appeared likely to fall short of qualifying as a Super Two after the season. The Indians controlled him through 2016 before the extension. Not too many catchers with 1-2 years of service time have signed multi-year deals recently, as Jonathan Lucroy (four years and $11MM) represents the only notable example. 

The Indians signed Asdrubal Cabrera to a two-year deal recently, buying out one free agent year. Chances are they will explore an extension with Justin Masterson at some point as well. 

MLB.com's Jordan Bastian first reported the extension and Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweeted the financial terms of the deal. Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.


Indians Notes: Shapiro, Carrasco, Santana

On this date in 1997, Jim Thome hit his 40th homer of the season for the Indians, who went on to win the American League pennant. Here's the latest on the current version of the Indians, who have a 0.0% chance of returning to the postseason this year, according to Baseball Prospectus' playoff odds report

  • Indians president Mark Shapiro hasn't had contact with the Cubs about their open GM job, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Shapiro is involved in making the Indians more successful on and off the field and appears to be happy in his role, Hoynes writes. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reported yesterday that the former GM might be intrigued by the Cubs job.
  • The Indians announced that Carlos Carrasco had Tommy John surgery in New York City today, as Dr. David Altchek repaired the ulnar collateral ligament in Carrasco’s right elbow. Recovery time is generally a year or more, so the Indians won’t be counting on Carrasco in 2012.
  • Indians manager Manny Acta told Todd Wills of MLB.com that Jeanmar Gomez will be a name to consider for next year's rotation. Gomez has allowed just three earned runs in 17 1/3 innings since being recalled from Triple-A at the end of August.
  • Carlos Santana could be a long-term solution behind the plate or at first base, Acta told Wills. The Indians' decision will depend, in part, on others, such as Matt LaPorta.
  • The 26-year-old LaPorta has had his chances. In what amounts to two full seasons, he has 30 homers and a .234/.300/.394 line. He has always destroyed minor league pitching, but he hasn't helped the big league club nearly as much as expected.

Stark On Upton, Pirates, Indians, Red Sox, Fox

One GM told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark that he’d like to see the season shortened because it’s a mental and physical grind for the players and they could use more rest to regroup. Stark provides and passes along many suggestions, including a national doubleheader day (what’s not to like about that?) and expanding the active rosters beyond 25 players. Here are the latest rumblings from around MLB…

  • Though a couple of American League teams made strong proposals for Justin Upton last winter, D’Backs president Derrick Hall says it’s doubtful that Arizona would be in first place without their 23-year-old right fielder. About two dozen teams expressed interest in the former first overall pick last offseason. Put another way, only five teams weren’t interested.
  • There are signs that the 26-29 Pirates are going to make a run at .500 instead of trading MLB players for prospects this year. One NL assistant GM says he would shoot for .500 to start changing the perception that the Pirates are perennial losers.
  • Though the Indians understand the injury risks for catchers (Carlos Santana missed the end of the 2010 season after a home plate collision), GM Chris Antonetti says his front office appreciates “the potential competitive advantage of getting exceptional production behind the plate.”
  • They’ve already signed Kevin Millwood and now Red Sox are “poking around” for another starter to stash at Triple-A, according to Stark.
  • The Orioles, who designated Jake Fox for assignment this week, are trying to trade him and at least one scout expects them to find a taker.

 


Only One Extension For Catchers This Offseason

Extension season might not be over yet, but if recent history is any indication, we've seen most or all of this spring's extensions. You have to go back to 2008 to find an extension completed in May or June, so there's a chance that Ryan Braun's deal will be the last one of its kind for a few months.

If that's the case, 37 players will have signed extensions since the beginning of the 2010-11 offseason. Exactly one of those players, Ryan Hanigan of the Reds, is a catcher. It's noteworthy, if not downright surprising, that no starting catchers signed extensions when you consider that dependable catching is hard to come by and that teams spent aggressively last winter.

Unlike the 2009-10 offseason, when the Twins extended Joe Mauer, no backstop was an obvious candidate for an extension. Mike Napoli is getting expensive and he doesn't have a reputation as a good defender. Matt Wieters hit just .249/.319/.377 last year, so it's understandable that the Orioles didn't commit to him on a mutliyear deal. And it would have made little sense for the Indians to extend Carlos Santana, who had an operation to repair a damaged knee ligament (his LCL) last August.

Buster Posey was an extension candidate, but there's no rush for the Giants to extend him, since he's under team control through 2016. Perhaps the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year will be in line for a long-term deal after 2011 if he repeats his breakout rookie performance.

Geovany Soto would have been a more traditional candidate for an extension. He hit .280/.393/.497 with 17 homers last year and was arbitration eligible for the first time in his career after the season. Soto is young enough for the Cubs to want him to keep him around (28) and close enough to free agency that they might be thinking about securing his services for an extra season or two (Soto is eligible for free agency after 2013). They didn't agree to terms on a long-term contract and instead signed a one-year, $3MM deal.

Given the circumstances surrounding each extension candidate, it's easier to see why Hanigan was the only backstop to sign long-term. Next year, however, more catchers, including some of the ones above, could sign extensions. Elite catchers don't hit free agency often, so the teams that develop catching may choose to keep it in place long-term by offering promising catchers extensions.


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Cox, Crawford, DeJesus

Two years ago today the Athletics acquired Matt Holliday from the Rockies in exchange for Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street, and Greg Smith. Holliday hit .286/.378/.454 in exactly 400 plate appearances with Oakland before being dealt to the Cardinals for a package led by Brett Wallace at the 2009 trade deadline.

Street has battled injuries but has been solid when on the mound for Colorado, pitching to a 3.30 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 109 innings. Smith has appeared in just eight games for the Rox (all starts), putting up a 6.23 ERA. The real get was CarGo, who will certainly be in the MVP mix after a .336/.376/.598 season with 34 doubles, 34 homers, 26 stolen bases, and a batting title.

The hot stove league will certainly bring us more blockbuster trades, but for now you'll have to settle for this long collection of links, the best the blogosphere had to offer this week…

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.


Odds & Ends: Bettis, Royals, Astros, Pierzynski

Links for Friday, as interleague play resumes…