The Indians may be getting a new setup man.
According to Jon Heyman of SI.com, free agent reliever Chad Durbin has been talking recently with Cleveland’s front office and an agreement between the two sides could be just days away.
Durbin was thought to be holding out for offers from contending clubs, but spring training is officially underway now and exhibition games begin this weekend. He probably has a desire to get into a camp and begin readying himself for the season.
The 33-year-old right-hander posted a 3.80 ERA and struck out 63 batters against 27 walks last season in 68.2 frames of relief work for the Phillies. He will likely operate in the seventh and eighth innings behind closer Chris Perez in Cleveland. If Durbin does well enough, perhaps a contender will come calling mid-summer.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.