CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – The Winter Meetings ended without so much as a whimper from the Cleveland Indians, about as expected. The non-tender deadline is in the rearview as well, and free agency is fully underway, though a slow market.
So what next?
Probably nothing for the Indians, so long as Carlos Santana is without a place to call home for the next 3+ years.
It does not seem as if Chris Antonetti and company are willing to make any major roster decisions so long as Santana is still in the mix, which makes sense seeing as his projected salary would eat up the remaining free agent dollars they would be willing to dole out.
Perhaps maybe do not read too much into those Jason Kipnis rumors at the moment either.
With Santana, there may not be room for the former All-Star. If Jose Ramirez is permanently at second base, that leaves Kipnis with two potential options: left field and first base. If Santana leaves and the front office deems replacements like Logan Morrison, Lucas Duda, Matt Adams or the like as non-cost-effective, Kipnis could serve a role in left field with Michael Brantley shifting to first.
Media reports tend to make such deals imminent, especially given the time of year, but Kipnis would not be expendable unless Santana bolts.
If he is dealt prior to Santana making a decision, it would likely be a salary dump to make room for the first baseman, unless such a trade netted Santana’s replacement or a major positional upgrade.
The main contender at the moment in the Kipnis market has reportedly been the New York Mets, which makes sense given their need at the position, and a relationship with new manager, Mickey Callaway.
But consider what lies beneath with the rumors. There is plenty of second base help available, even after the deal that sent Ian Kinsler to the Los Angeles Angels. Josh Harrison is an all-star who, despite some injury troubles, is very versatile and on a team-friendly deal with two club options.
When interested teams make it to the media, it is usually to light a beacon to other teams to have a sense of urgency. Considering the relationship between Terry Francona and Callaway, why wouldn’t a non-competing party help his friend find a market for a potential deal?
If Callaway and the Mets actually are interested in Kipnis, why wouldn’t someone within the Indians organization make an effort to light that beacon for other teams?
There is not a ton of moveable major-league talent on the Mets roster that the Indians would seem to covet, unless they love a young, controllable reliever like Paul Sewald, or a promising starter like Robert Gsellman.
The Indians still have a 40-man roster spot available, which opens the door for plenty of moves, big or small.