One thing to take away from Cleveland Indians pitcher Corey Kluber’s tough start to the season against the Oakland A’s on Wednesday afternoon is that Lonnie Chisenhall is an asset who should be traded because of a crowded bench.
Carlos Santana, who won the third base job out of spring training over Chisenhall, handled two very dicey defensive plays with ease and displayed why he should be just fine in the field.
The Indians were down 2-0 in the second, runners were on first and third and Kluber needed a double play to avoid letting the game get out of control. Jason Donaldson hit a slow chopper to Santana who realized immediately he couldn’t get the double play and wisely threw home to get the lead runner. It was the type of play you could have excused Santana for letting the runner score, given his relative inexperience so far on the hot corner, but he handled it like he’s been playing third base for years, and got the easy out.
In the fourth, he barehanded a ball and threw a strike to first. Both plays were more than routine and a pleasure to see him make.
Which brings us to Chisenhall. Still young at 25 years old, he was the Indians’ first-round pick of 2008, chosen ninth overall. He can play third base and started there last year for Cleveland before being sent packing to the triple-A Columbus Clippers to work on his run production. After torching triple-A pitching, he was brought back and started the Indians’ one-game playoff verses the Tampa Bay Rays, going 3-for-4 in the loss.
But he’s not going to find any playing time. He can’t play anywhere other than third base in the field, and quite honestly has yet to prove he can hit major league pitching consistently and drive in runs, a must for a corner infielder in the Indians’ schema.
So the Indians need to work him into a few games, hope he can show some pop, and then trade him. What will they get in return?
Doubtful it will be much, but it’s better than waiting to let the candle burn out like the Indians did with Andy Marte a number of years ago, and more recently with Matt LaPorta.
Sending him down to the minors is worthless, and might even further an argument that he’s one of those players that is destined for triple-A greatness, which won’t bring the team much value in a trade down the road.
Do I think Chisenhall is like Marte or LaPorta? His situation is similar, but his age is what makes him worth something on the trade market and with Santana playing well and signed long term, it makes the risk he might break out with another team worth taking.
Cleveland should trade Chisenhall this year and get what it can prior to his value plummeting as he rides the pine, or worse, leads Columbus to an International League championship.