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.