CLEVELAND — The Indians are on the clock. Teams have until 5 p.m. ET on Sunday evening to make their final decisions of whose options to pick up, who to give a qualifying offer to and how to make room for anyone on the 60-day (or 45-day for the 2020
CLEVELAND — The Indians are on the clock.
Teams have until 5 p.m. ET on Sunday evening to make their final decisions of whose options to pick up, who to give a qualifying offer to and how to make room for anyone on the 60-day (or 45-day for the 2020 season) injured list on the 40-man roster. For the Indians, the attention will turn to Brad Hand, Carlos Santana, Roberto Pérez and Domingo Santana, all of whom have club options on the table.
$10 million option, $1 million buyout
We’ve gotten a taste of what the decision will be with the Tribe’s closer already this week, as Hand was placed on outright waivers on Thursday afternoon, according to a report by The Athletic. If he’s claimed by another team, the Indians will not have to pay his $1 million buyout in order to part ways with their closer. If he’s not, the team will likely pay the buyout and look toward the future with James Karinchak at the back end of the bullpen.
Declining Hand’s $10 million option is not a surprise. The Indians have indicated that the organization will have to endure payroll cuts to bounce back from the financial losses of the 2020 season. With two young relievers in Karinchak and the hard-throwing Emmanuel Clase, the Indians would not have felt as much pressure to figure out a way to afford Hand’s $10 million salary.
Could the Tribe have exercised Hand’s option and tried to trade him over the offseason? Sure. But the problem is that no one really knows what this offseason will look like after this unprecedented year. Would teams want to pay $10 million for a reliever? Would they want to trade what the Indians would be asking for in return? If the Indians’ No. 1 goal was to make sure they wouldn’t get stuck with his $10 million contract, then it may have been too big of a risk to try to make a trade over the offseason without the certainty that other teams would be willing to spend.
$17.5 million option, $500,000 buyout
Santana couldn’t have been more excited to get back to Cleveland in 2019 after spending a year in Philadelphia. His red-hot All-Star season was constantly credited to his comfort of being back home. But the Indians’ first baseman is coming off a rocky ’20, and his hefty $17.5 million option is way out of the Tribe’s price range. This will be declined.
However, that doesn’t mean Santana won’t stay in Cleveland. He will have to see what offers he’d get on the free-agent market, but his age (34, turning 35 just after Opening Day next year) combined with his .199/.349/.350 slash line from 2020 may not be the recipe to land a big contract. In that case, the Indians could still find a way to ink their beloved first baseman to a team-friendly deal to have him return in 2021.
$5.5 million, $450,000 buyout
If there’s going to be an option that gets picked up, Pérez will be the one. He’s been rock-solid for the Indians behind the plate, as he was nominated for his second consecutive Gold Glove Award since taking over the starting job in 2019. His offensive numbers were far from astounding this year, but as the Tribe’s pitching staff continues to get younger (11 of the 20 hurlers on the 40-man are no older than 25), Pérez will be a tremendous asset to help lead an inexperienced staff.
If it wasn’t for the acquisition of catcher Austin Hedges in the deal that sent Mike Clevinger to the Padres at the Trade Deadline this past year, picking up Pérez’s option would nearly be a guarantee. But with Hedges’ similar reputation of being an above-average defensive backstop with a mediocre bat, there’s at least some question as to whether the Tribe would be considering moving on from Pérez.
$5 million option, $250,000 buyout
There’s one more option on the table, but there’s very little question as to how it will play out. Domingo Santana did not prove to be the pop in the middle of the order the Tribe was looking for this year. He was outrighted to the Indians’ alternate training site in September and will not have his $5 million option for 2021 picked up.