The Indians have always been known for overhauling their roster, either to save money, start a rebuild or to retool. It’s happened before with players like Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber and it will continue to happen in the near future. But next season, the Cleveland Indians infield could see a complete revamp like never before.
As already stated in past articles, whether fans want to admit it or not, Francisco Lindor is gone. There’s no need to punish Indians fans even more by talking about it, so we can just “safely” assume there will be a hole to fill at shortstop.
Filling in at short would most likely be a top prospect like Owen Miller or Tyler Freeman, Jose Ramirez, or a short-term free agent. But with the Indians farm system clogged with top infielders, we’ll most likely see a top prospect at the position next year.
Then, at first base, the way Carlos Santana has played this season and how teams will look to lower their payroll, the Indians will definitely decline his $17.5 million option. Santana is known for struggling early in the season, but there is no way they will spend upwards of 18 million on someone who is hitting .197 and slugging .318. There is still a possibility the Indians Front Office could re-sign Santana to a much smaller deal. Though, it’s much more likely the Indians move on from the first baseman.
Looking at replacements at first base, the clear standout is Bobby Bradley, the Indians top first baseman prospect. Though there will be free agents like Howie Kendrick, Yuli Gurriel and CJ Cron, it’s much more likely that the Indians stick to their farm system – or just re-sign Santana.
At second base, there’s the one-year rental Cesar Hernandez. The Indians signed Hernandez as a short term replacement for Jason Kipnis and that’s all he will be. Not only has his solid play most likely priced him out of the Indians organization this offseason, but the Tribe front office feels it has some top prospects that can take his place. The Indians could slot Nolan Jones, Tyler Freeman, Daniel Johnson, Yu Chang, or Owen Miller into second to fill the void.
Then, there’s the biggest question mark in the infield, third base. The Indians have Jose Ramirez under team control through 2023. But with Nolan Jones, the Indians top prospect, playing third, how will the Indians make room for him?
Well, it’s actually pretty simple.
This is mainly because of Ramirez’s versatility. Being able to play outfield, second and third. Ramirez wouldn’t be new to playing second, since he took over the position back in 2017 when Jason Kipnis was injured. No matter where he plays next year, Ramirez’s flexibility is a great benefit for the Tribe.
No matter how you shape it, the Indians are going to have a big offseason and whether it ends with a few moves or a blockbuster trade, the infield will definitely be different next season.
Press, A. (2020, August 4). Indians Infield [Digital image]. Retrieved September 20, 2020, from https://www.toledoblade.com/sports/indians/2020/08/04/cleveland-indians-score-today-reds-reyes-bieber/stories/20200804195