Report: Indians unlikely to deal Jason Kipnis

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The Indians officially inked first baseman Yonder Alonso to a two-year, $16 million contract on Saturday, a move that may have some ramifications for infielder/outfielder Jason Kipnis. While Kipnis has drawn some attention from the Mets this offseason, Indians president Chris Antonetti threw cold water on the idea of a trade, telling reporters that he was considering Kipnis as a contingency plan for injured left fielder Michael Brantley.

It’s the closest Antonetti has come to defining Kipnis’ role for the 2018 season. The 30-year-old second baseman/center fielder has been in limbo this winter as the club figures out how best to use Brantley, who is currently working his way back from major ankle surgery and was being considered for first base prior to Alonso’s addition. Should Brantley be unable to start by Opening Day, Kipnis could step in and assume another hybrid infield/outfield role, though Antonetti clarified that he has yet to formally discuss that possibility.

Assuming the Indians continue to add outfield depth and Brantley makes a full recovery by spring, a trade for Kipnis may not be entirely off the table. Talks between the Indians and Mets seem to have cooled considerably, however, especially in light of Carlos Santana‘s three-year, $60 million deal with the Phillies. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports that the Indians were in the mix for Santana “until the end,” but without his sizable contract on the books, the financial incentive to move Kipnis is no longer driving trade talks. To that end, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post adds that the Mets are unlikely to be willing or able to meet the Indians’ reported high asking price for the veteran infielder.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).