Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball and FanRag Sports reported on Thursday that the Cleveland Indians are trying to quietly extend 1B/DH Carlos Santana before he hits free agency this off-season.
Heyman uses Blue Jays 1B Kendrys Morales (3 years, $33 million) and Orioles OF Mark Trumbo (3 years, $37.5M) as potential outlines for an extension. He cites Santana’s versatility of a leverage point, in that he can hit first and fourth. Value could be added if Santana gets a chance in the outfield this season and succeeds.
Santana is younger than both comparable players, though Trumbo signed his deal headed into his 31-year old season, while Santana will turn 31 on Saturday. Morales will hit 34 on June 20.
All three players carried batting averages within .005 of each other last season, but Santana’s numbers drop off severely when considering the mean of the last two seasons.
The Indians 1B carries the much higher OBP in each of the past two years compared to Trumbo, while coming in behind the 2016 AL home run king by .035 in that campaign.
Though Trumbo’s more permanent move to the outfield makes the comparison moot, Santana could also be looked at as a better fielder than Trumbo, though neither are plus defenders.
Speaking defensively, that is something Kendrys Morales does not even do any longer, playing just 26 games in the field since the start of the 2015 season.
Contrarily to Santana’s 2015, Morales had maybe his second-best professional season, splitting .290/.362/.485 with 22 home runs and 106 RBI with the Royals. Santana split .231/.357/.395 with 19 homers and 85 RBI in that season.
Morales’ age 31 season, 2014, was worse than Santana’s down year at age 29, though the former held out for almost half the season before being dealt at the trade deadline.
Expect a deal, if it happens, to split that of Morales and Trumbo in dollars. The Indians will likely be reluctant to go over 3-years with Santana, carrying him into his age 35 season. Santana’s age and defense make him more valuable than Morales while Trumbo’s power numbers and the recent acquisitions may give the Indians a ceiling.
Heyman also says that the Indians will attempt to retain RP Bryan Shaw.