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Cleveland Indians: Should Tribe pursue Chase Headley?

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SAN DIEGO, CA - APRIL 4: Chase Headley #12 of the San Diego Padres looks up after taking a strike during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies at PETCO Park on April 4, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - APRIL 4: Chase Headley #12 of the San Diego Padres looks up after taking a strike during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies at PETCO Park on April 4, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /
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The Cleveland Indians could be in search of another bat to add to their lineup. Would Chase Headley be a viable option?

The San Diego Padres have just released Headley from his contract. He is now a free agent that any team can sign. The former star player has seen a fall from stardom over the past few years.

Headley began his career with the Padres, and had a career year in 2012 with 31 homers, 115 RBIs, and a .286 batting average, which made him a star in San Diego. He was traded to the New York Yankees in 2014, where his star diminished significantly.

Of course, being a star in New York is much more difficult than being a star in San Diego. That Yankees team had Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Ichiro, and Carlos Beltran. Whereas in San Diego, he was the star of a team that had, well, Chase Headley.

Headley has posted decent numbers over the years in New York, but nothing spectacular. He’ll hit somewhere between 10 and 15 home runs in a season with a mediocre batting average somewhere between .250 and .275. Those are clearly not star level numbers.

Where could Headley fit in Cleveland?

He’s been a third baseman most of his career. If the Tribe brought him in, Jose Ramirez would have to move to second base and Jason Kipnis could move to the outfield, or even the bench, but the bench is a long shot. Headley can also play first base and could push Yonder Alonso for some at bats.

What has Headley done this year?

Believe it or not, less than Jason Kipnis. Granted Headley hasn’t gotten the playing time that Kipnis has but his numbers are still unsightly. Kipnis is hitting .174 with a .514 OPS and one home run. Headley only has 52 at bats on the season, but he’s holding on to a .115 batting average with a .368 OPS.

Headley has an OPS+ of 8. The league average OPS+ is 100.

Headley has gotten off to a terrible start, but there could be underlying reasons for this. He doesn’t get any regular playing time in San Diego, and Petco Park is a notorious pitcher’s park that has ruined hitting ability for most players. Perhaps the Cleveland Indians could look past his horrid numbers so far.

What does Headley’s contract look like?

But the Cleveland Indians can not look past his contract. He’s owed $13 million this year. The Indians will only be on the hook for the prorated version of that money for the rest of the season. Since we’re about a quarter of the way through the season, if they signed him, he would only be owed slightly under $10 million, which is still a lot of money.

This is going to be the big turn off for the Tribe. They already are paying Jason Kipnis that much money to offer little production. Why bring in someone new, with a large contract and small production, to replace the guy you’ve known for years?

Should the Indians sign Headley?

No, I don’t think they should. He might be a nice reclamation project to stash in Triple-A if they can, but his contract needs to be paid by someone, and the Indians payroll is high enough as it is. The last thing the Indians need is to spend the last little bit of payroll flexibility they have on a player that might not even be an upgrade over who they’re currently playing.

Next: 3 shortstops to know for the MLB Draft

With July coming up fast, the Cleveland Indians need to be on the search for upgrades to this roster and spend accordingly. Chase Headley doesn’t appear to be it.

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