In the early afternoon hours on the last day of the MLB Winter Meetings, the Cleveland Indians completed a complicated three-team trade. The teams were the Indians, the Seattle Mariners, and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Indians sent slugger Edwin Encarnacion and a draft pick to the Mariners and bring back Carlos Santana in the process. The Indians also sent the bicep-man Yandy Diaz and a minor league pitcher for young first baseman Jake Bauers. There was also some money being sent to each team. So what does this all mean?
For the Indians, this is a minor deal but it also has a couple of things that go along with it. It shows that the Encarnacion experiment didn’t really work that well. Yes, Edwin did have good numbers in his two seasons with the Tribe. Edwin was owed $25 million for the next year and while Carlos Santana is owed around $20 million for the next two seasons. It is around the same type of deal, but the money is spread out more over the next couple of years.
With trading for Carlos Santana, the Indians are getting back the slugger they tried not to let go after the 2017 season but were outbid by the Philadelphia Phillies. Santana struggled last season with the Phillies but his on-base percentage was still high for a power hitter. This means that the Indians are getting back the camaraderie that Santana and his teammates had throughout his time with the Tribe. Santana’s versatility to play first base as well as likely being the full time designated hitter.
The other part of this trade with the Rays was a surprising one to a lot of Indians fans. Yandy Diaz was supposed to be the everyday third baseman and be a middle of the order guy. Obviously now that can’t happen and I wish Yandy nothing but the best in Florida, but this trade for Jake Bauers has me giddy. The 23-year-old just finished his first season in the major leagues and while he struggled big-time in the second half, he showed why he was considered a top-five prospect in the Rays organization. Bauers has the raw power that you look for in a first baseman. He had 11 home runs in his rookie campaign that started in early June of last season. Bauers also provides the versatility to play the corner outfield spots. He played a total of 20 games in left and right field for the Rays, but his main spot is first base. Bauers has six more years of control left and is a piece for right now as well as for the future.
There are two more things that this trade does show. It shows that Yonder Alonso is going to be available for a cheaper price and that Jason Kipnis is likely going to be the starting second baseman. With the Indians trading for two first baseman, Alonso’s time with the Indians is becoming shorter and shorter. He is making $9 million for next season and then is a free agent. He is also the brother-in-law of current free agent Manny Machado, so a team that is looking to sign him might consider trading for him as an incentive, although a rather expensive one. All-together Alonso’s time with the Tribe is likely over and expect him to be traded within the next months.
The trade of Yandy Diaz also solidifies the second base job to veteran Jason Kipnis. Now his contract could still be traded and that would be a good deal for the Indians, but as it looks right now Kipnis will be the starting second baseman come opening day.
Overall, this is a good trade for the Indians. It sheds enough salary for the Indians to go get a player of lower value as well as meaning the Indians have a cornerstone in place at first base for the future. It also means the Indians are bringing back a familiar face to the club and a quality DH as well. Lastl,y it shows they are likely going to be trading Yonder Alonso at any point over the next couple of weeks/months.