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Santana signs multi-year extension, so who's next?

Santana signs multi-year extension, so who's next?
April 10, 2012
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The Cleveland Indians have reportedly come to an agreement with catcher Carlos Santana on a multi-year deal that will cover the rest of his arbitration years as well as his first season of free agency. If true, the deal is in line with that of shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who signed a two-year deal early last week. Cabrera’s new contract covers his arbitration eligible year in 2013 as well as his first year of free agency in 2014.

The Indians have a lot more control with regards to Santana, who was tied to the club through 2016 even without a multi-year contract. If the reports are true, the Indians have signed the slugging catcher to a five-year deal through the 2017 season. An announcement is expected on Tuesday afternoon.

With Cabrera and Santana in the fold now through 2014 and 2017 respectively, it will be interesting to see which direction the Indians move next. With Cabrera as the only official player not signed to a club option past the 2012 season, there are several players that will seemingly be on the Tribe’s radar.

Keep in mind that while the Indians don’t have players signed to official deals, they do have club control over much of their roster, including Shin-Soo Choo (2013), Chris Perez (2014),  Rafael Perez (2013), Joe Smith (2013), Tony Sipp (2015), Jason Kipnis (2017), Lonnie Chisenhall (2017), Michael Brantley (2016), Josh Tomlin (2016), Lou Marson (2015), Vinnie Pestano (2016),  and Justin Masterson (2014). It’s clear that they won’t try and sign all of the previous names listed for a variety of reasons, but based on the past week, I firmly believe that there are a few names that will be targeted.

Shin-Soo Choo is in a similar contract situation as Cabrera, under control to the club through the end of the 2013 season. The rightfielder suffered through a rough 2011 season, it would appear that the Indians could have some control there with a multi-year deal. The catch remains Choo’s hiring of agent Scott Boras, who is notorious for not signing deals prior to free agent years. It’s likely that Choo is a lost cause, but there’s no doubt that the Indians have either already turned over that rock, or are about to.

While Choo may be the most obvious to many, the clear focus should be on ace Justin Masterson. A case could be made that he’s not only the Indians most valuable player over the past season and a half, but also their best player. I know the Indians are hesitant to sign pitchers to a long term deal, and the former Fausto Carmona, and current Roberto Hernandez may be the club’s cautionary tale. That said, there wouldn’t be any harm to the Indians wrapping up Masterson to a deal similar to the ones signed by Cabrera, and about to be signed by Santana. Signing Masterson through the 2015 season just makes good sense.

After Masterson and Choo, the only other clear signing to me would be Jason Kipnis. Sure, the Tribe has him under control through the 2017 season, but it may be good business to throw him a bone with a long term deal at least through that season. Of course, there’s time there, so they could wait a year before pulling the trigger, giving them one more season to make sure he’s the real deal.

If the Santana deal turns out to be as reported, it certainly will make the next month an interesting one for Tribe management. While there are always the Fausto Carmonas of the world, there are also Jim Thomes, Kenny Loftons and Albert Belles. Signing these guys to a long term deal just makes good business sense. Not only does it wrap up good young players through their first free agent years, but it also sends a message to Indians fans that this team is being built to win in the future.

I don't know about you, but it's about time...

Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as  the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at

User Comments

April 10, 2012 - 5:20 PM EDT
Yes, no reason to sign Kipnis. You let him play things out this year and part of next year maybe before approaching him about a Santana-like deal in April next year (provided he shows he is the real deal this season). I'd even maybe wait another full season as he is not going to be Super 2 after 2013.

As for the bullpen guys, I think they are smart to wait them out. So volatile and never know who is going to get hurt/blowup. I dont think it makes much sense to give Smith and Perez an extension right now as they would have to sign both to at least 2-3 year extensions, which on top of this year would lock them in for 3-4 years. Not sure i want a committment to a reliever for that long. Those guys will probably not be decided on until July next year where they are either traded or at that time they start working on a new deal (or slightly before).
April 10, 2012 - 1:20 PM EDT
I just think you need to be careful with regards to bullpen arms. I'm not against signing a guy like Pestano because of his back-end arm, but would vote against many long-term deals overall. I'm all about the two year deal for any bullpen arm, and since Pestano is wrapped up through 2016, I don't know that I'd go there yet.

As per Kipnis, while he isn't considered a rookie, would it really only be a sophomore slump? Besides, Kipnis will be fine. We aren't even a week into the season, and folks are jumping off the Kipnis bandwagon. Every year, he has stretches where he struggles. He always figures it out, and when he does, he generally explodes. After his 6th game last season, Kip was hitting .118 without a home run. After his 16th game, Kip was hitting .295, with six homers. The hope is that he'll garner more consistency, but he's shown the propensity to explode once he figures things out...

...and he's always figured things out....
April 10, 2012 - 12:06 PM EDT
I really worry about Kipnis; I foresee a sophomore slump. I'd like him to spend a little less time on Twitter and Adele-ing, and a little more time on adjusting to pitchers. Locking up Masterson would be ideal. Choo will leave via free agency following the 2013 season. But what will Cleveland do with the bullpen guys? Some of them are more valuable than we think and could be had even below market value ie. Rafael Perez, Vin Pestano

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