Normally when you have a good-hitting catcher who doesn’t profile as a Gold Glover, you think about making him a DH or a first baseman. The Indians aren’t doing that with Carlos Santana, however. Paul Hoynes reports that they’ve talked to him about playing third base down in the Dominican Republic this year and have him taking ground balls at third as a part of his offseason workouts.
Yan Gomes took over the Indians’ catching job late in the season and was lights-out in 322 plate appearances, and clearly Cleveland would love to have both of their bats available. First base isn’t an option because of Nick Swisher and, with a camp invite for Jason Giambi for 2014, DH may be occupied too (it’s a good place to give Swisher a breather as well). Also worth noting that the Indians have a catching prospect named Fransico Mejia who, while still only 18, is supposed to a beast, so it’s not like flipping Gomes, for example, would solve the problem long-term. Mejia could have that job in a few short years.
Santana and Gomes splitting time behind the dish, Santana playing DH a lot and, when he can’t, spotting at third base? I suppose stranger things have happened. But given the overall impression Santana’s defensive skills give a guy, don’t hold your breath until you see him playing the hot corner in a major league game.
Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.
The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.
Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.