Cleveland Indians: What Carlos Santana’s return means going forward

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Cleveland Indians

(Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

Carlos Santana is coming home to the Cleveland Indians after a three-team trade. Does his return provide a glimpse into the rest of the offseason plans?

At long last, the Cleveland Indians have done something of note at the 2018 Winter Meetings. Despite the maelstrom of rumors surrounding the potential departure of one of the Tribe’s starting pitchers, it turns out that a reunion with a former fan favorite has become the first concrete headline since MLB’s front office personnel converged on Las Vegas earlier this week.

Carlos Santana will return to his rightful home at Progressive Field as part of a three-team deal that also sent Edwin Encarnacion to Seattle and Yandy Diaz to Tampa Bay. Also coming over to Cleveland in the trade is Jake Bauers.

On the surface, the trade has a peculiar look to it. Despite offloading the $20 million owed to Encarnacion in 2019, the Indians are now on the hook for most of the $34.5 million Santana will make between 2019-20 (Seattle will also send cash to Cleveland as part of the deal).

Moreover, Jake Bauers is a first baseman by trade, giving the Tribe a logjam of players at one position once Yonder Alonso is factored into the equation. Last but not least, the loss of Diaz leaves the Tribe without their most obvious candidate to open the season at third base, assuming Jose Ramirez stays at second.

Reading between the lines, however, this deal does not appear to be a standalone move for the Indians, but rather the beginning phase of a much larger plan. Here’s a breakdown of the direction it appears the Indians are trying to go, as well as a look at what Santana’s homecoming could mean for the rest of the winter.

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