Cleveland Guardians News

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

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(Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images) /
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Farewell to Alonso?

The parting of ways with Encarnacion, at least to me, indicates the Indians are trying to move on from one-dimensional players. And if that’s the case, Yonder Alonso’s days in Cleveland could be numbered as well.

Let’s look at it this way: Without the services of Michael Brantley and now Encarnacion, the Indians are missing two of the first four hitters from their regular 2018 lineup. Santana likely takes over one of those four spots, but are the Indians comfortable with Alonso becoming the new cleanup hitter?

The smart money says no, which means our reprieve from the rumors regarding Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer may be short-lived. If the Indians are going to fill the power void in the middle of the lineup, it could likely be in a trade involving one of their top two pitchers.

We’ve also barely even mentioned Jake Bauers yet. Bauers, again, is a first baseman by trade, and a left-handed one at that. Even if the Indians’ plan is to play him in the outfield temporarily, where he logged just under 140 innings in 2018, his arrival may have opened a door through which Alonso will be leaving.

Alonso is due $8 million in 2019, which means it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to retain him, bat him in the bottom third of the order as the regular DH and reap the benefits of the 20-something home runs he’ll hit.

However, his contract with Cleveland also includes a $9 million vesting option for 2020, an option that will automatically kick in if he reaches either of the following thresholds: 1,100 total plate appearances between 2018-19, or 550 alone in 2019.

He already reached 574 plate appearances in 2018, meaning he only needs 526 next season to lock into his option. The Indians could platoon him in order to make sure he never reaches that number, but in an already lefty-heavy lineup, he has no real platoon complement.

Expect the Indians to send him away in a low-profile deal, content to move forward with Santana and Bauers.

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