It’s almost midway through the MLB season, and by now we have a pretty clear idea of which teams will buyers or sellers when the trade deadline comes along. The Cleveland Indians are likely the latter.
The Tribe is heading into July still below .500. Other than a decent month of May, there’s been no indication they’re anything more than the underperforming unit we’ve been watching to this point. Overall, it’s been a significant letdown to see a team many thought was ready to break out show the league they’re still a ways away from fulfilling those expectations.
Knowing they aren’t in a “one piece away” type situation, the Indians are likely going to see if there is anything they can move on their roster. Now, this is hardly the all-out fire sale we saw from Cleveland back in ’08 and ’09. At the same time, there just hasn’t been enough evidence to show the Indians are capable of winning consistently this year.
Obviously, cornerstone players like Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley aren’t going anywhere. You’d like to think this would be the case for anyone the team recently re-signed as guys for the long term. On top of this, as much as fans would love to bid farewell to Nick Swisher or Michael Bourn, their respective contracts are likely going to scare off plenty of buyers.
However, there is one player Cleveland should definitely consider moving, and it’s someone the team once pegged plenty of hope on. Thanks to his never truly living up to the hype which followed him, it’s time the Indians tried to move first baseman Carlos Santana.
There was a point where Santana was considered the middle-of-the-lineup power hitter of the future in Cleveland. Acquired by the team during their aforementioned fire sale of 2008, Santana quickly developed a reputation as a big-time slugger in the minors. When he was finally called up in 2010, he definitely showed potential at the plate.
That said, he’s been hot and cold for most of his time with the Indians. He was relatively solid during the team’s 2013 season, as his .268 average and 20 home runs helped Cleveland get to the playoffs. Since then, though, his average has declined. Despite hitting 27 home runs the following year, he only batted .231 for the season, his lowest since joining the majors.
At least until this year, that is. When trying to find reasons for Cleveland’s struggles this season, it’s tough to ignore the funk Santana is currently enduring. Batting a paltry .218, it just seems as though the former hot prospect is still trending downwards.
For multiple seasons now, Indians fans have waited with baited breath for the moment when Santana finally broke out. If this year is any indication, the wait might be longer than the team can tolerate.
Of course, trading Santana probably isn’t going to bring in massive returns for Cleveland. He’s talented, sure, but it’s tough to see the team getting anything more than a prospect or two in exchange.
At the same time, it’s hard to believe a trade of Santana would be done with hopes of getting a solid haul back. If anything the move would be made due to the fact he hasn’t really shown he’s capable of finally breaking out and being an impact player. Likewise, the Indians have insurance in the minors, as first baseman Jesus Aguilar has shown plenty of power with their Triple A affiliate in Columbus. Though Aguilar is only batting .267, he’s collected 23 more hits than Santana has at this point in the season.
As mentioned, Cleveland likely won’t be selling the farm come deadline day. However, this doesn’t mean they’ll refuse to test the market for a few players on their current roster. If they were smart, one of these players would be Santana.
It would be tough to see Santana go, as you always feel as though his breakout is imminent. At the end of the day, though, he’s 29-years-old, and this season is doing nothing to indicate a surge is on the way.