Indians catcher and first baseman Carlos Santana has been taking grounders at third base this offseason, according to The Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes.
In his usual mailbag for Sunday’s paper, Hoynes took a first question about Lonnie Chisenhall’s future at third base. Here was his response:
Yes, I believe the Indians will give Chisenhall a shot at the starting job in 2014 but I don’t think they’re living in a dream world.
I’ve heard Carlos Santana is already taking grounders at third base and could play some third this winter in the Dominican Republic. I’m not sure if it’s to increase his versatility or to give the Indians another option if Chisenhall can’t do the job.
Earlier this offseason, we heard from the Indians that Yan Gomes would take the reigns as the team’s everyday catcher. So this move isn’t that surprising in the context of the team’s biggest position player weakness (third base) and its love for versatile defensive players.
In 2013, Santana had 81 starts at catcher compared to 79 for Gomes and two for former backup Lou Marson. Santana then started at 47 games at designated hitter and 24 at first base for a total of 152 starts. He had 152 and 142 starts in the previous two seasons. The team certainly would hope to keep him at the pace for the future.
I’ve written before about how many fans underrate Santana’s all-around value, mostly because of his inconsistent defensive presence. As a catcher, he ranks among the best sluggers of all-time. At any first base or DH, his extraordinary hitting value is mitigated. It moves back up a bit at third. We’ll see where this lands by the time spring training comes around in three months.