In need of outfielders, the Indians announced this afternoon that they claimed Joey Butler off waivers from the Indians.
Butler, who turns 30 in March, was designated for assignment by the Rays last month after batting .276 with eight home runs and a .742 OPS in 88 games this past season. He started out strong after being called up in May, but saw limited playing time during the second half. There’s not a ton of upside here, but the Indians could use some depth with Michael Brantley expected to miss the start of the season after shoulder surgery.
One interesting wrinkle with this move is that Butler is now teammates with Carlos Carrasco. You might remember that Butler spoiled Carrasco’s no-hit bid with two outs in the ninth inning back on July 1. Ouch. Carrasco took to Twitter today to say there’s no hard feelings.
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.