Less than a week after officially losing Carlos Santana to the Phillies, after he signed a three year contract worth $60 million, the Indians have found his replacement. Taking his talents to Cleveland, Yonder Alonso has agreed to a very affordable two year contract worth $16 million with a vesting option for the 2020 season valued at $8 million, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.
Alonso came out of the gates swinging in 2017, slashing .275/.372/.569 with 20 home runs earning him his first all-star appearance. Unfortunately, he cooled off in the second half with a .254/.354/.420 line to go along with eight home runs.
Alonso can be described as a lesser version of Carlos Santana, with an offensive game that lies in strong plate discipline. While he may not post as jaw-dropping walk to strikeout ratios as Carlos Santana, nor will he hit for as much power, he will cost the Indians $44 million less than Santana would have. Furthermore, as a result of Santana signing a contract worth more than $50 million, with the declined qualifying offer under his belt, the Indians will receive a compensation pick from the Phillies.
Cleveland may just be the best possible landing spot for Alonso. First of all, he ended the season in the middle of the A’s lineup with little to no protection around him, possibly contributing to drop off in his numbers during the second half. In Cleveland, it looks as if he will hit towards the bottom of a line-up that includes big names such as Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Ramirez. Furthermore, the majority of his games will come against the other four American League Central teams, three of which are rebuilding and figure to land in the bottom third of the standings in 2018.
From a market standpoint, it may seem like a slight underpay, however Alonso was very smart for signing now. As we have seen in recent years, the market for first baseman has been absolutely unpredictable. With a litany of other options on the market including Logan Morrison, Mark Reynolds, Danny Valencia, Lucas Duda and, of course Eric Hosmer, the music is going to stop at some point, and one or two of these guys could be without any good options come February and have to settle for a pillow contract.
Last year provided many examples of the musical chairs game that has become the power bat market. Kendrys Morales signed a three year contract worth $33 million in mid-November after hitting a respectable, however not earth shattering 30 home runs, with a .790 OPS and a 110 OPS+.
Meanwhile, Chris Carter, who led the National League in homers with 41, alongside an .821 OPS and a 113 OPS+ was stuck signing a one year contract worth $3.5 million in mid-February, which was just a $1 million raise over his past salary. Mark Reynolds, also signing in February, couldn’t even find a guarantee despite an .806 OPS, 101 OPS+ and 14 home runs, settling for a minor league pact with just $1.5 million awaiting him if he managed to break camp with the Rockies.
The power market looks to be resolving itself quickly following Santana kicking the door open, as Mitch Moreland and Matt Adams have also found homes over the past few days. While it will be interesting to see how the rest of the market plays out, both Alonso and the Indians have found what seems to be the perfect match in each other.