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Inbox: Should Yandy be Tribe's everyday 3B?

Beat reporter Jordan Bastian answers questions from Cleveland fans
MLB.com @MLBastian

How much more does Indians manager Terry Francona need to see from Yandy Diaz to make him his everyday third basemen? I personally believe Giovanny Urshela is a stopgap until Francona is comfortable putting Diaz out there every day.
-- Joe T., Leroy, OH

First and foremost, Francona wants to see Diaz stick with one position for the entirety of Spring Training. Due to some injury issues on the roster, Diaz spent last preseason bouncing between the outfield and third base, and that may have hindered his defensive development. Francona wants to try to avoid a similar scenario in 2018.

How much more does Indians manager Terry Francona need to see from Yandy Diaz to make him his everyday third basemen? I personally believe Giovanny Urshela is a stopgap until Francona is comfortable putting Diaz out there every day.
-- Joe T., Leroy, OH

First and foremost, Francona wants to see Diaz stick with one position for the entirety of Spring Training. Due to some injury issues on the roster, Diaz spent last preseason bouncing between the outfield and third base, and that may have hindered his defensive development. Francona wants to try to avoid a similar scenario in 2018.

"I could see Yandy potentially being our third baseman," Francona said earlier this month. "He could probably do other things, also. It'll be nice to have a whole spring with him, where the Major League staff is with him and he can work at one position."

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The plan for Diaz in Spring Training will hinge on some other pending decisions for the club. If Jason Kipnis moves back to second base, for example, that would probably mean Jose Ramirez is going back to third. If that is the case, Diaz's place would likely be in one of the corner-outfield spots. If the plan is to keep Ramirez at second and Kipnis in the outfield, then Diaz could try to win the third-base job.

Cleveland is also weighing whether to pick up left fielder Michael Brantley's team option ($12 million), plus first baseman Carlos Santana is eligible for free agency. If the Indians think Brantley (currently sidelined four to five months after right ankle surgery) can return in left field, that could again impact Diaz's role. If Santana is not re-signed, would Brantley consider a move to first base? Diaz, for what it's worth, has never played a professional inning at first base.

Video: BAL@CLE: Santana hammers an RBI double off the wall

So, as you can see, there are a lot of factors surrounding which glove Diaz picks up come spring.

What we do know is the Indians love his offensive potential, and the club saw more of it down the stretch. Diaz struggled in his early-season stint with the Tribe, but he came back up on Aug. 22 and then hit .301 (.810 OPS) in his final 31 games. Over the final month, Francona divvied up the playing time at third with Urshela, who often replaced Diaz on defense in later innings. That worked for a short span of games, but it might not be the best plan for a full season.

Are the Indians looking to move catching prospect Francisco Mejia to third base permanently?
-- Quincy W.

Mejia is playing third base in the Arizona Fall League, but this is not believed to be a full-time position switch. It is a way to increase his versatility, and to potentially create a faster path to the Major Leagues. Mejia might be close to being ready for the big leagues as a hitter, but Cleveland has one of the game's top defensive catching tandems in Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez. On top of that, Gomes and Perez are signed through 2019 and '20, respectively.

Video: CLE@SEA: Gomes goes deep to left-center in the 8th

"It's important not to lose sight of the developmental year Francisco had as a catcher," Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president of baseball operations, said recently. "He did an extraordinary job at continuing his development -- both offensively, but more specifically defensively, the way he led the staff, some of the nuances of catching. He's in a much better spot now than he was a couple years ago as a defender. We talk about it all he time: The more versatility guys can have, the better. If he can be an option for us not only behind the plate, but at another position, that's a huge asset."

Do you think ownership will spend more this offseason on external options (Eric Hosmer, etc) or attempt to re-sign known free agents (Santana, etc.)?
-- Brian L., Willoughby, OH

A year ago, Edwin Encarnacion looked like the perfect fit for the Indians' needs and the team's ownership stepped up and made the signing happen. So you can't really count anything out given the team's aggressiveness over the past few years on the transaction front. That said, the players who look like the best fits -- especially on the position-player side of the equation -- are the internal options. Trying to re-sign Santana and/or Jay Bruce should be the priority, in my opinion.

Is there any front-office concern about Tito's health? I haven't really heard anything since he came back from his break, and that was only three months ago.
-- @mikearosso

Francona admitted to being "wiped out" at season's end, but he seemed in much better shape, health-wise, by the end of the year. One thing you can count on is this: If Francona felt health was getting in the way of his performance as the manager, he would not keep doing it. At the end of the year, he said he planned on getting a better offseason routine in place to position himself for better health in 2018 and beyond.

Is there a legitimate reason (and salary) to have an assistant hitting coach? I'd rather use the money on Santana.
-- @EdKore

Money spent on replacing assistant hitting coach Matt Quatraro (hired as the Rays' new third-base coach) will not impact any potential free-agent spending. Francona has likened the hitting-coach situation to the pitching staff. There is a pitching coach and a bullpen coach to help split up all the work. Francona likes having two hitting coaches who can complement each other, divide up the duties and better handle the wealth of information and work involved in the job.

Video: CLE@LAA: Allen hustles in to make a nice catch

Where do you see Greg Allen spending his 2018, Columbus or Cleveland?
-- @chris_d_davies

Allen made a strong impression down the stretch, but there is still development left on the offensive side of his game. There is certainly a chance that he could make the Opening Day roster as a fourth outfielder, but Triple-A Columbus is the likely destination for the start of the 2018 season.

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.

Cleveland Indians