Cleveland Indians fans may want the team to move on from Jason Kipnis, but his contract situation complicates things in 2019.
The second baseman was fresh off an All-Star season and was a fixture in the Indians lineup. The deal was backloaded so he was actually giving solid production at a cheap cost.
Well, here we are in the backloaded portion of Kipnis’ contract. He has not exactly done well as his annual pay has gone up.
Kipnis finished the 2018 season slashing .230/.315/.389 in 147 games. He hit 18 home runs, drew 60 walks and had 112 strikeouts. This came while earning nearly $14 million, according to Spotrac.
The veteran was once again bumped to the outfield once Josh Donaldson came to town. It’s not the best sign when a team’s third-highest paid player is forced to switch positions late in the year.
Kipnis’ overall struggles have made him a polarizing player among fans. Some celebrate what he has meant to this team while others want him traded. The problem is that it will be hard to find a trade partner.
2019 is the final year of Kipnis’ deal, with a club option remaining in 2020, and he is set to earn nearly $15 million. How are the Indians going to convince a team to take on that money for a player who seems to be trending in the wrong direction?
The only way I could see Kipnis being traded would be near the trade deadline if the Indians were somehow out of contention and if he was having a great year. The Indians somehow ending up at the bottom of the division is highly unlikely, so that simple scenario won’t happen. I hope.
This contract figure complicates Yandy Diaz‘s path to the majors, which also frustrates certain fans. Diaz could easily slide in at third base while Jose Ramirez permanently moves to second. However, that won’t happen in 2019 with Kipnis being paid so much money.
The only time that alignment would happen on a full-time basis would be in the postseason, which is even more frustrating as that would mean the Indians aren’t sporting an ideal lineup during the regular season.
The Indians front office will need to get creative this offseason to improve the team. And barring some team really believing in Kipnis’ abilities, moving him in a favorable trade will remain near impossible.