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Deal or No Deal: Carlos Santana

Nov 07, 2012 -- 7:24am

By: T.J. Zuppe

With several Cleveland Indians potentially on the trading block this off-season, we will take a look at a handful of the players that could be on the move this winter. Today, we look at the pros and cons of the Tribe looking to deal catcher Carlos Santana.

Reasons to deal Santana:

·      He probably projects long-term at a position other than catcher. While impressive at catcher, his numbers look a little less impressive when logged at first-base or designated hitter, thus losing some of his value.

·      Questions about his level of commitment have made some nervous about his overall consistencies over a long season.

·      Will turn 27 at the start of the 2013 season. His youth makes him more appealing than other available free-agent catchers on the market.

·      He is locked into his rate over the length of the contract he inked early in the 2012 campaign. Any club that deals for him would control him through 2016 with a club option for 2017. Both his age and team friendly contract could net more talent in return.

·      A trade of Santana could help restock the mid-to-upper levels of the Tribe’s thin farm system.

Reasons to keep Santana:

·      His bat gives the Indians one of the most potent offensive backstops in all of baseball. For a club lacking firepower at first-base, left-field and DH – three key offensive positions – it is extremely important to draw some power from a slot not synonymous with big numbers.

·      Despite his drop in power (nine fewer homers in 2012) and OBP (down from .808 to .785), he managed to raise his average 13 points and wins above replacement from 3.4 to 3.7 last season. Both would suggest it was not a total decline from ’12 to ’13.

·      More than likely would be selling for a return of less than fair market value.

·      Put together a decent second half (one of the few players that did). Hit .281 with 13 homers and 46 RBI following the all-star break. Still has the potential to be the type of hitter the club envisions.

The Verdict:

·      If not for his productive second-half, many would be ready to slam the panic button and unload Santana. However, it will be intriguing to see if a “new management kick in the pants” leads to a new motivation in the team’s backstop. Of the names that have been kicked around as possible trade bait, he is the one I would prefer to hold on to the most. The only place I would consider moving him would be to first-base, fulltime. There, I would allow his offense to continue to blossom. I am not quite ready to give up on Santana but he will have a great deal to prove in 2013.

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