Hot Stove Notebook: Indians Waiting on Santana, Outfield Trade Market is Open

The Indians are in the uncomfortable position of being a 102 win team hoping not to lose all of its 2017 free agent class. With Shaw seemingly priced out, and little movement on Austin Jackson or Joe Smith, the focus rest on Carlos Santana. The virtues of Carlos Santana have been extolled with great frequency and it appears that for the Indians, no other first baseman is to be considered until Santana’s decision is made.

This is the first time Duda has been linked to the Indians in such an explicit manner but it makes sense. The inestimable Gage Will laid out the Indians substitution options for Santana but for a moment, consider Duda as compared to Matt Adams, another candidate rumored to be attached to the Indians should Santana sign somewhere else.

For the second tier of first baseman, here they are compared by age in terms of wOBA which incorporates on base ability and power into a metric of offensive value.

Adams is the youngest, Duda the most stable production, Alonso and Morrison the highest recent peaks in terms of performance ceiling. There is no optimal solution but with the Indians weirdly fascinated with Michael Brantley remaining in left field, this is a list of players to monitor going forward.

Never mind Brantley got hurt not in hard pursuit of a fly ball but by softly turning to observe contact to center field. Never mind his declining athleticism and long recovery time, nor his multiple elbow surgeries, exposing him to left field injury risk seems like a prudent plan. Of course, Kipnis being publicly discussed as out of position is a strange headline and would seem to anchor the increasing belief that he is moved this offseason though the return would probably be light.

Jay Bruce Interest:

Until offers occur for Bruce there is no reason to think a return to Cleveland is foreclosed. However, it would appear the Indians consider it a secondary priority to the return of Santana.

Outfield Market Growing:

With Bradley, Ozuna, and Santana all on the market in the early going, perhaps the Indians surplus of quality starting pitching will be wielded for a long term, cost-controlled player to pair with the position player core of Lindor, Ramirez, Zimmer, Mejia, Encarnacion, and others.

This Indians offseason is one of the most unpredictable and complex of the past decade because they are facing different long and short term incentives. They lose Allen and Miller in 2018 which would seem to pressure action for a short term window. Yet, with the position player core mentioned above as well as team friendly deals for Carrasco and Kluber through 2020 the Indians are in phenomenal position to keep the window open for awhile in what is an entirely putrid division. This balance creates unpredictable decision-making. Make an aggressive move for 2018? Possible. Trade for any of these outfielders with the future in mind? Possible.

For the Indians to find value they will need a creative approach to this offseason, and Chris Antonetti is the man for the job.