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Broulis Beat Report: Cleveland Indians and their free-agents

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CANTON, Ohio- The Cleveland Indians and their free-agents. The Kansas City Royals aren’t the only team in the A.L. Central that have to answer questions in regards to free-agents. Fortunately for Cleveland, it’s not to the extreme of what the Royals will have to deal with. By the way, if you’re an Indians fan, how weird does it still feel to be watching the ALCS and seeing the Yankees and Astros battling it out for the right to represent the American league in the fall classic? Let’s start now with the free-agents. Carlos Santana is a switch hitter. One of his down-sides, is that he’s a pull hitter for the most part. Every once in a while, he’ll go to the opposite field. Teams almost always go into a shift when he’s at bat. Santana had a .363 OBP which was 37th best in all of MLB. Santana drew 88 walks which ranked him 9th in MLB. Now, getting away from the stats. Santana isn’t exactly viewed as the greatest defensive first basemen in MLB history, but he did improve in that area this year. His offensive numbers are down from last year, but Santana has been very dependable. From 2010-2017 Santana has played in at least 143 out of 162. 2010 was he played in 46 games. But that was his debut year. Santana could get a lot more money if he used all parts of the field when hitting. But he’s too pull happy. Carlos is slightly an above average defender. In 2017, he made $12 million. According to his market value is $17 million. As of now, Santana and Royals stud first baseman Eric Hosmer are the top two top free-agent first basemen that will be available. Cleveland won’t have the cash to sign Hosmer. The Indians could go one of two routes. First, they could just simple resign Santana, and hope that his numbers return to their 2016 form. I don’t foresee his defensive skills getting any better, but he’s not terrible. Also, again, he’s reliable. They could also resign Jay Bruce. Jay Bruce came over from the Mets and had an immediate impact. The market for Bruce is $22 million. I’m not sure if Cleveland will give Bruce that much, but Bruce is just as reliable and uses all parts of the field, more so than Santana. If Cleveland does resign Bruce over Santana, they’d have to address who will play first base then. Cleveland could always stick Lonnie Chisenhall or Abraham Almonte at first. Here’s also an out of the box thought. If they let Santana go, why not bring back Mike Napoli? Crazy thought, but Napoli is a good defensive first baseman and last year, Napoli hit 29 HR’s, but did see a big drop in RBI’s. Maybe putting him in a lineup where Jose Ramirez and Edwin are batting in front of and behind him would help protect him more. It’s just a thought. At the end of the day, I’d rather have Bruce over Santana. Austin Jackson was a great addition to the Tribe. Jackson became even more valuable when Bradley Zimmer went down. Cleveland paid Jackson $1.5 million last year. In 85 games and 280 at-bats, Jackson hit .318 with 35 RBI’s and 7 home runs. I’d say it’s less than a 50% chance that Cleveland brings him back because the Indians will have Zimmer back. Greg Allen also showed that he is more than capable of playing center field, but it’s his bat that is the big question. Then, there’s Jason Kipnis. Who knows what’s going to happen with him now. Bryan Shaw, I think, will be back. He’s a work horse, and he can pitch for multiple innings per game if needed. Shaw also struck out 73 last year. That’s a career high. I really hope the Indians bring back Joe Smith. I love his submarine-side arm style throwing. He’s tough on right-handed hitters. Unfortunately, I have a feeling he won’t be back. Michael Brantley is the big question mark. Right now, there’s a club option for Brantley. That option is $12 million. Brantley played in a total of 101 games in the past two seasons. When Brantley is healthy, he’s a star left fielder. He’s a tough out for any pitcher at the plate. But, has Brantley become too injury prone to resign? That’s the big question that Cleveland must answer. If they let Michael hit the market, he’s likely to be signed very quickly. There are plenty of teams that will be more than happy to take a chance on him. So, if you’re Cleveland, do you pick up his $12 million club option and see if he can make it through 2018 without any major problems? That raises yet another problem then. If Michael Brantley gets back to his All-Star form, he’ll have a high price tag and then Cleveland will have to compete with the larger market teams. That usually doesn’t end well for a market the size of Cleveland. In the end, I do see the Tribe picking up his option. For me, I’ll be paying the most attention to what happens with Jay Bruce, Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis. Email: Twitter: @nbroulis Facebook: The Broulis Beat Report

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