The Indians will pick up their $12MM club option on designated hitter/first baseman Carlos Santana, tweets Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. The decision was a foregone conclusion, as Santana not only remained productive in his age-30 campaign but had one of the best years of his career in 2016.
Santana, 31 next April, appeared in a career-high 158 games and notched a career-best 688 plate appearances in 2016. The switch-hitting slugger also notched career-best marks in homers (34), runs scored (89) and RBIs (87) while posting a strong .259/.366/.498 batting line that checked in well above the league average. Santana spent most of his time as Cleveland’s DH this season, starting 92 games there, though he did also make 64 appearances as a first baseman. It’s yet to be determined exactly how that playing time will be divided up in 2017, as the team currently stands to lose its primary first baseman, Mike Napoli, to free agency. However, GM Mike Chernoff said prior to the conclusion of the World Series that Cleveland had a desire to keep Napoli in the fold, so the possibility exists that Santana and Napoli can once again provide the bulk of the power in manager Terry Francona’s lineup next season.
We’re also nearing the point at which Santana’s future with the Indians becomes a question mark. Originally acquired in a wildly lopsided trade that sent Casey Blake to the Dodgers, Santana has taken every at-bat of his Major League career whilst wearing an Indians uniform. Cleveland signed him to a five-year, $21MM pact prior to the 2012 season, and the 2016 campaign marked the final guaranteed year of that deal. His club option for 2017 was a no-brainer, but Santana will be eligible to test the open market for the first time next offseason if the Indians don’t broker a longer-term pact with him in the next 12 months.