Report: Indians bringing back César Hernández

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
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CLEVELAND — The Indians traded their All-Star shortstop. They’re hanging on to their steady second baseman.

Free agent Cesar Hernandez, who had a strong 2020 season with Cleveland, has agreed to return on a one-year contract, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The team and Hernandez have an agreement, which includes a club option for 2022, in place and it will become official once medical tests have been completed.

Hernandez is playing in Venezuela, and it could be days before the everything is finalized, said the person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal is still pending.

The signing of Hernandez provides some stability to Cleveland’s infield, which has a major hole to fill at shortstop following Francisco Lindor‘s trade to the New York Mets. A switch-hitter, Hernandez may move into Lindor’s leadoff spot in the lineup.

The Indians cleared over $30 million from their payroll in trading Lindor and starter Carlos Carrasco. And while the team won’t be signing any big names, Cleveland is expected re-invest some of that money by being aggressive in going after second-tier free agents.

That’s what Hernandez was last winter and he ended up being a nice pickup for the Indians after he spent seven years with the Philadelphia Phillies. He signed a one-year deal worth $6.25 million.

Hernandez batted .283 in 58 games and led the AL with 20 doubles in the pandemic-shortened season. He played excellent defense, committing just four errors and winning a Gold Glove for the first time.

The Indians acquired young middle infielders Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario in the Lindor deal and it was expected one of them would play second before Hernandez was brought back. Now, it’s not clear what the plans are for Gimenez and Rosario.

The 30-year-old Hernandez has a career .277 batting average. He hit a career-high 15 homers in 2018 for the Phillies and led the NL with 11 triples in 2016.