Just when you thought that the Carlos Santana saga in Cleveland was over…
The Cleveland Indians watched first baseman Carlos Santana turn down his $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians and headed into the hot stove season looking to cash in on his first real chance at a free agent bonanza. Rumors were abound that Santana could possibly score a four or five-year deal, to the tune of $20+ million a year, and that 10+ teams were hammering down his door.
That all may be true.
But if there’s one thing that free agency and the offseason has taught us, what is being reported isn’t always what it seems, and is often fed to reporters via the agents, who are correctly drumming up interest for their clients.
This isn’t new for the Indians’ front office, whose patience played out last offseason, allowing them to sign Edwin Encarnacion to a deal that in years and money, fit into their payroll. Encarnacion, like Santana this year, was looking to cash in on years of raking for the Blue Jays, and hoped to bring in something around five-years, and $100 million. Encarnacion did manage to bring in $20 million a year, but when the years dropped from five to three, Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff pounced. A three year deal for a then-33-year old Encarnacion was much less risk averse than a five year deal.
Carlos Santana, who turns 32 during the second week of April, has a year on Encarnacion, but it will be interesting to see if the Indians’ first baseman can manage to grab a deal that’s four or five years, based on that age difference, as well as coming off a season in which he should have won the Gold Glove award.
Certainly at play are some other big free agents, starting with the Royals Eric Hosmer, who will likely command the type of years that Santana is looking for, simply because Hosmer just turned 28. There are also a few cheaper commodities out there that could bring the numbers down a bit, in Logan Morrison and Yonder Alonso, and it appears as though the White Sox Jose Abreu is on the market as well, albeit as a trade candidate.
On Sunday night, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that the Indians weren’t done with Santana quite yet, regardless of reports.
Indians and Red Sox are among teams talking to Carlos Santana
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 11, 2017
Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes also joined the Santana fray as well.
Indians make offer to Carlos Santana, but they have a lot of competition. https://t.co/rQ8BTYaANS
— paul hoynes (@hoynsie) December 11, 2017
In the article, Hoynes states that “at least six teams are in pursuit” to sign Santana, but it’s way too early to speculate who, past the Indians and Red Sox. Hoynes did also note that the Indians would be allowed to counter, once a team gave Santana their best offer. Take that to note, because if the Indians don’t sign Santana, we’ll know they had an opportunity to do so.
The Red Sox, looking to match the Yankees, who just made THE huge splash of this offseason by dealing essentially nothing for the right to pay Giancarlo Stanton the rest of his $295 million contract (minus $30 million, that the Marlins shipped over), and plug him into their slugger heavy line-up, make sense for Santana as a free agent. With Mitch Moreland moving to free agency, and their only legitimate candidate to play first being Hanley Ramirez, Santana could take over the job, improving an area of weakness for the Sox. It would also allow the Red Sox to go all in on the huge free agent market after 2018, knowing that Santana was secured.
With the Indians picking up the $12 million option on much-injured Michael Brantley right after the World Series, there are increasing questions debating whether or not his seemingly fragile body can handle left field, or whether or not they picked up his option as a stop-gap at first base, knowing that Santana was leaving via free agency.
Past that, you have to wonder if the Indians are truly being patient, waiting out Santana’s numbers, or if last year’s Encarnacion deal was a move that predicated Santana’s current free agency deal. With Brantley showcasing All-Star offense in the first half of the year, perhaps Antonetti and Chernoff are gambling a bit so allow them to fill more holes this offseason. With between $125 and $130 million already wrapped up in current contracts, and eventual arbitration signings throughout the offseason, there is money for the Indians to spend.
The Indians ended the season with around $150 million or so wrapped up in deals, so there should be approximately $20 million there, give or take, should the Indians want to make a bold play and sign their long-time slugger to a deal.
I still don’t think it’s likely.
With the 2017 Winter Meetings set to kick off, WFNY’s Mike Hattery and I return after a LONG hiatus, to talk all that is Indians baseball. Obviously, Carlos Santana is a main focus, and the realities of what he’s going to earn this offseason. Are the Indians’ still players in the Santana sweepstakes, and how does ‘Princess Bride’ play into Santana’s future? Yeah, old-man Hattery actually brought that analogy up. We also talk about the future of Jason Kipnis in or out of Cleveland, in or out of left field and/or second base, Danny Salazar in or out of the starting rotation and the bullpen, the Indians current and likely payroll, Jay Bruce’s true salary number, Bradley Zimmer’s true reality as an offensive player, Jose Ramirez being just awesome and flexible, the coaching staff aging in odd ways, and they even talk a little bit about the futures of Greg Allen and Yandy Diaz, who quietly put themselves on the map for 2018 and beyond.
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