TThe Indians will extend a one-year, $17.4MM qualifying offer to first baseman Carlos Santana, reports FanRag’s Jon Heyman (on Twitter). Santana will have 10 days to determine whether to accept or reject that $17.4MM contract. If he rejects, any club that signs him this winter will forfeit a draft pick (or picks), while Cleveland will stand to recoup a pick in the 2018 draft should he sign elsewhere. For more details on the specifics of the QO system, check out MLBTR’s previous primer on the newly restructured system.
The 31-year-old switch-hitter batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and career-best work at first base in 2017. While the market for corner bats hasn’t been great in recent years, Santana’s defensive improvements, power and longstanding reputation as one of baseball’s most patient hitters (career 15.2 percent walk rate) should serve him well on the open market even with draft-pick compensation attached to his name.
Eric Hosmer is most commonly projected to top the free-agent market for first basemen given his youth and enormous production in his walk year, but we pegged Santana as the second-best option at the position on our annual Top 50 free agent list, pegging him for a three-year deal in the $45MM range and noting that a fourth year is certainly a possibility. The QO won’t help Santana to maximize his earning capacity, but he’s a more well-rounded player than many of his more one-dimensional peers at first base.