Indians GM Chris Antonetti told reporters today that the club was in on Carlos Santana until the very end (hat tip to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com). It seemed that Santana’s reps kept the Tribe informed through the entirety of Santana’s free agency, but in the end, things just didn’t work out for Cleveland. This news comes as another sign that Santana wanted to remain with the Indians if possible; the first baseman also wrote an emotional goodbye letter to Tribe fans in which he stated, “I cried once it sunk in that I would no longer be suiting up for and living in the City of Cleveland.” Ultimately, he signed a three-year, $60MM contract with the Phillies. Santana came to Cleveland in the Casey Blake trade prior to the 2008 trade deadline. Though the Dominican Republic native came up as a catcher through the minors, his most recent years have been spent as a first baseman. He hit .249/.365/.449 during his time with the Indians, and provided them with 23 fWAR. The club will now hope that new signee Yonder Alonso can replace his fantastic patience in their lineup.
More from the Indians’ camp on the day the Alonso signing was announced…
- Bastian also tweeted some words from Antonetti about the club’s spending plans for the remainder of the offseason. It seems as though the Alonso signing may be the Tribe’s most significant of the winter, though they’ll reportedly continue to explore their options. “We’ll continue to be active,” the Indians GM told reporters. “We had a certain amount of flexibility heading into the offseason that we had to use judicially, and this will represent the vast bulk of that flexibility. The cost of retaining the nucleus of our team is more expensive.” Indeed, the Indians have a number of expensive arbitration-eligible players. MLBTR projects that Trevor Bauer, Lonnie Chisenhall, Danny Salazar and Cody Allen alone will cost the club nearly $30MM, and there are still smaller salaries to account for within their arb-eligible group.
- Antonetti isn’t worried about Alonso’s ability to sustain a high level of production, Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal tweets. The Indians GM cites his control of the strike zone and escalating average exit velocity across the past three seasons as evidence of a “purposeful adjustment”. It’s worth noting that there’s a healthy amount of skepticism in the industry over whether the former top prospect’s .266/.365/.501 season was a true breakout or a career year. As Evan Davis of FanRag Sports writes in a detailed piece, there’s reason to believe certain adjustments could yield sustainable results over the long-term, including a 9.1-degree spike in average launch angle that led to a .385 xwOBA in the season’s first half. However, Davis also points out that his second half was far more pedestrian; Alonso’s xwOBA and wRC+ both plummeted to levels more indicative of his previous self.
- One of the remaining items on Antonetti’s docket is to speak with Jason Kipnis about a position plan, Bastian says in yet another tweet. Antonetti told reporters that it’s possible Kipnis could be a contingency plan for Michael Brantley in left field if the two-time All-Star isn’t ready for Opening Day. As Anthony DiComo of MLB.com notes, Antonetti’s words make it seem all the more likely that Kipnis will open the 2018 season in an Indians uniform.