When the Tigers designated Brandon Inge for assignment last month, he accepted a minor league assignment with Triple-A Toledo after being promised that he would rejoin the major league club in September. Well, he’s back a little sooner than originally expected.
According to Jason Beck of MLB.com, Inge will have his contract purchased from the minors today and get the start at third base tonight against Indians’ left-hander David Huff.
Inge, 34, batted .287/.389/.519 with seven homers, 19 RBI and a .907 OPS over 126 plate appearances during his time with Triple-A Toledo, including a .395/.439/.684 batting line against southpaws. While he was designated for assignment after batting .177/.242/.242 over his first 239 plate appearances this season, he has a .793 career OPS against left-handed pitching compared to a .654 OPS against right-handers.
According to Beck, the Tigers made the move now because they are expected to see four or five left-handed starters between now and September 1. While Wilson Betemit, a switch-hitter, has seen most of the playing time at third base since being acquired from the Royals last month, he has an .812 career OPS against right-handed pitching compared to a .677 OPS against southpaws. Inge is also a much better defender, so this sounds like an ideal platoon situation.
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.