Catcher Carlos Santana brought up the idea of trying out as a third baseman to the Indians this offseason, reports The Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto in his latest Sunday notebook.
Yan Gomes already has been named Cleveland’s everyday catcher for 2014. Pluto writes that Nick Swisher, who made 101 out of his 144 starts at first base in 2013 but played mostly right field for the New York Yankees, will remain as the team’s primary first baseman.
It was reported last weekend that Santana would be taking groundballs at third base this offseason to give competition to incumbent Lonnie Chisenhall. The 25-year-old has struggled in 203 career MLB games, batting just .244/.284/.411, which has the Indians looking for another right-handed bat to potentially add at third base.
Here’s what Pluto wrote about Santana wanted to try out at third:
The Indians were aware that Santana played a little third early in his minor league career. But they didn’t know if the 5-foot-11, 210-pounder could handle the position. The fact that Santana wants to try it has the Tribe far more excited than the front office wants to say publicly.
In 2013, the 27-year-old Santana made 81 starts at catcher, 47 at designated hitter and 24 at first base. As a DH or at first, his impressive hitting value is limited. He ranks as one of the best hitting catchers of all time with a .254/.367/.446 line. But his defense was a major issue, especially in comparison to the up-and-coming Gomes.
The Indians have versatile infielder Mike Aviles at their disposal as another back-up option, but little else on the farm. Cord Phelps was recently claimed by the Baltimore Orioles.