With Francisco Lindor likely to be traded, and Carlos Santana unlikely to return here’s a look at what he Indians 2021 opening day infield might look like.
Catcher: Roberto Perez
All indications are that Roberto Perez will return as the Indians starting catcher in 2021. Last week, the Indians opted to pick up the $5.5 million 31-year old catchers option.
Indians general manager Chris Antonetti voiced confidence in his catcher after making the decision telling the media ““We continue to believe Roberto is one of the best defensive catchers in baseball and a key leader on our team. We’re excited to have him back as a key component for us and we’ve seen the difference he can make when he’s behind the plate and leading a pitching staff.”
First Base: Jake Bauers
Perhaps the biggest unknown for the 2021 Indians is who will start at first base. The Indians declined Carlos Santana’s option and did not carry any other experienced first basemen on their 2021 roster.
The early edge may go to former top prospect Jake Bauers. Bauers developed in the Tampa Bay Rays farm system and was called up by Tampa in 2018, where he helped the club win 90 games. He was traded to Cleveland after the season and slashed .226/.312/.371 with 12 home runs and 43 RBI’s in 117 games for the Tribe. He did not appear in any games for the Indians in 2020 as he was never called up to the active roster, but that figures to change in 2021 whether he’s the starter or not.
Second Base: Cesar Hernandez *
Cesar Hernandez gave the Indians exactly what they were looking for at second base in 2020 after he was signed to a one-year deal. The former Phillie slashed .283/.355/.408 with three home runs and 20 RBI’s for the Tribe as he played a key role in their 35-25 season.
Despite his production, the 30-year-old will likely be an affordable free agent again this offseason making a reunion with Cleveland more likely.
Shortstop: Amed Rosario *
The Cleveland Indians are likely to trade Francisco Lindor this offseason and the New York Mets are emerging as a top suitor with new ownership ready to spend big money.
If the Indians do send Lindor to the Big Apple, there’s a good chance Mets shortstop and former top prospect Amed Rosario gets flipped to Cleveland. The 24-year-old Rosario struggled in 2020 but is just a year removed from a 2019 season that saw him slash .287/.323/.432 with 15 home runs and 73 RBI’s in 157 games.
Third Base: Jose Ramirez
While there’s a chance Jose Ramirez gets moved this offseason, it’s hard to imagine the Indians dealing him away at least over the winter after the season he put together in 2020.
Ramirez slashed .292/.386/.607 with 17 home runs and 46 RBI’s to become a potential MVP finalist. With the AL Central wide open, look for the Indians to hold onto Ramirez even if Lindor is traded. However, Ramirez could be a midseason or 2021 offseason trade candidate.