The Cleveland Indians finally made their big splash in free agency. Well, a big splash by Indians standards as they re-signed the ever-reliable 2B Cesar Hernandez to a reported one year deal for $5 million and an option next year. The deal was made possible with the money the organization freed up from trading SS Francisco Lindor and SP Carlos Carrasco to the New York Mets. This may not be an exciting signing or what fans were hoping for, but from a baseball sense, this is a very good signing for the Indians.
Hernandez last season was Cleveland’s most consistent everyday player from opening day through their short stay in the playoffs. Hernandez finished the season hitting .283 with a .355 OBP as he led the American League in doubles. Cesar is also no slouch with the glove as he also won his first Gold Glove last year. Hernandez fits into the Indians’ plan of rebuilding while they try to stay competitive. He is a prototypical leadoff hitter who can set the table and also play great defense and is a good veteran clubhouse presence for a team that figures to be young and inexperienced next year.
Questions arise when looking at the top two players the Tribe received from the Mets in the Lindor/Carrasco trade. Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez are both middle infielders and it begs to question how this will play out with the two youngsters. Most likely shortstop is Rosario’s to lose as he was the Mets starting shortstop for the last three years. Gimenez will only be 22 years old next season and will most likely compete for the utility role or spend time down in AAA Columbus. The Hernandez signing is an interesting use of the Indians’ available free agent budget considering the Indians have more glaring needs in the outfield that the money could be used to fill. The modest $5 million dollar salary should give the Indians enough to add an average to over the hill vet in the outfield.
Indians fans should be happy if not enthusiastic with Cesar Hernandez returning to the shores of Lake Erie. Though Hernandez in no way puts the Indians in contention for a championship, his signing does show the Indians’ commitment to fielding a competitive team while simultaneously rebuilding the roster. His consistency will be a breath of fresh air for a Tribe offense that will struggle to score like much of this past season. If Hernandez continues his stellar play in 2021, this signing will be one hell of a bargain for the Tribe.
-All stats are from baseball-refernce.com