LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Indians would like to keep Carlos Santana in the fold, but they currently have to balance negotiating with waiting while also planning ahead in case he signs elsewhere.So, all continues to be quiet for Cleveland, but Chris Antonetti, the team's president of baseball operations,
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Indians would like to keep Carlos Santana in the fold, but they currently have to balance negotiating with waiting while also planning ahead in case he signs elsewhere.
So, all continues to be quiet for Cleveland, but Chris Antonetti, the team's president of baseball operations, noted on Tuesday evening that his days here at the Winter Meetings have been filled with meetings and phone calls and text messages. Those conversations have not resulted in anything of major substance on the transaction wire, but some of that is due to Santana's pending decision.
The free-agent first baseman is reportedly weighing several offers, which the Indians can try to top if they want to retain Santana. While Cleveland waits out that situation, it is working on contingencies. That is why the Indians have been linked to the likes of free agents Logan Morrison, Matt Adams and Lucas Duda, among others, in various reports.
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Morrison's name popped up on Tuesday as a possibility for the Tribe via a report from MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, and the first baseman presents an interesting option.
Last season, Morrison made swing adjustments that led to a dramatic increase in power production. After posting a .416 slugging percentage and .741 OPS over the previous seven seasons, Morrison launched a career-high 38 homers with a .516 slugging and .868 OPS in 2017. Morrison went from having a 104 OPS+ from 2010-16 (indicating he was 4 percent above league average) to a 135 OPS+ in '17.
That is quite a jump in production, and something the Indians would have to evaluate before trusting that the most recent results would be sustainable over a multiyear contract.
Antonetti did not comment on Morrison specifically, but he did say the Indians spent part of Tuesday morning discussing a player who had a career year, and whether it was an outlier or a sign of more to come.
"We spent an hour or two talking about that specific thing with a particular player," Antonetti said. "How do the changes in his mechanics affect the way we value him? Is it sustainable? Is it not? In one case, if a guy makes a change to get back to where he was, does that make us more optimistic about his future value? But we do spend a lot of time looking at those sorts of things."
Veteran outfielder Austin Jackson, who is a free agent after an impressive one-year stop with the Indians last season, was on hand at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday. He reportedly met with Cleveland's decision-makers to discuss a potential return, and Antonetti has noted many times this winter that the club has interest in a reunion. In 85 games last year, Jackson hit .318 with an .869 OPS.
Trying to re-sign Jackson -- or acquiring a similar type of player -- is on Cleveland's to-do list this offseason. It could be an important layer of depth given the uncertainty surrounding Tribe outfielder Brandon Guyer, who had left wrist surgery in October. Antonetti said Tuesday the Indians "expect him to be fine for the majority of the season" but his status for Opening Day is unclear.
So, Antonetti and his front-office team will keep waiting on Santana's decision, and mulling their alternatives.
"Our days have been full," Antonetti said. "There's been a ton of dialogue."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.