Chase Headley can add another team to his list of suitors. According to Anthony Castrovince, the 30-year old is drawing interest from the Cleveland Indians—who have Lonnie Chisenhall slotted as their current third baseman.
#Indians among the teams who have shown interest in Headley. Cannot confirm whether there’s an offer on the table, though.
— Anthony Castrovince (@castrovince) November 25, 2014
While the Indians have various in-house options at the hot corner along with Chisenhall—such as Carlos Santana or prospect Giovanny Urshela—it appears they are looking at an external solution as well. The Indians got poor production from third last season—a .239/.309/.357 can attest to that.
However, what stands in the way of the Indians signing a major free agent is mostly current and future financial obligations. As Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes, the Indians would be ok financially to sign Headley at his projected 4 years/$48 million amount (projected by Tim Dierkes of MLBTR) for just the 2015 season. Although, Adams goes on to explain—in another MLBTR article—that due to the teams anticipated arbitration obligations for 2016 with Corey Kluber, Cody Allen and Carlos Carrasco—combined with various other non-arbitration contractual increases, like the contract of Jason Kipnis, Yan Gomes, Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley—the Indians would likely be pushed over the $85 million dollar mark for a 2016 payroll. For this reason, Adams thinks that in order for the Indians to sign players this offseason to longer deals they must first move either Michael Bourn or Nick Swisher. He reasons that if the team pays a large amount of either player’s 2015 salary in a trade, it will create financial flexibility for 2016 and allow the Indians to bring in players through free agency this season.
Headley would represent a complete upgrade defensively over Chisenhall. Headley is thought of as one of the best defensive 3rd basemen in the league—and has a career 48.1 UZR to prove it—while on the flip side of the coin, Chisenhall has a -17.6 career UZR. While Headley has had two straight down years offensively—hitting at a .250/.347/.400 clip in 600 plate appearances in 2013 and a .243/.328/.372 clip in 531 PA in 2014 with the San Diego Padres and New York Yankees—Headley was largely hurt by a horrendous start to his 2014 season with the Padres. Once traded to the Yankees mid-season, in 224 PA Headley posted a WAR of 2.8 and a wRC+ of 121.
Taking the Indians’ financial situation out of the equation, it would make sense for the Chase Headley to be in Cleveland in 2015. The 2012 Gold Glove winner would be a major improvement in an Indians defense that desperately needs it. However—as Castrovince notes in a second article—the problems Cleveland faces financially might be too large to overcome.