OPINION: Why the Cleveland Indians should have declined Michael Brantley's option for 2018

The Cleveland Indians exercised their club option on outfielder Michael Brantley for the 2018 season.

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians made their first two moves of the offseason by exercising their team options for starting pitcher Josh Tomlin and outfielder Michael Brantley on Friday afternoon.

While the Tomlin deal is team-friendly, at $3 million, Brantley is due to make a reported $11 million, money that could have been better spent on signing one of their other free agents, namely outfielder Jay Bruce or first baseman Carlos Santana.

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A two-time American League All-Star in his career with the Indians, Brantley underwent surgery on his right ankle in the days following the team’s elimination from the 2017 Major League Baseball Playoffs, and will be able to resume full baseball activity in four to five months.

Brantley had the arthroscopic surgery done in Charlotte by Dr. Robert Anderson to stabilize ligaments in his right ankle, which he severely sprained in August while tracking down a ball in the outfield and was out of the lineup for seven weeks ahead of the 2017 Major League Baseball playoffs.

Over the last two years, Brantley has missed 223 out of a possible 324 games.

Brantley finished the 2017 regular season with a .299 batting average, 20 doubles, one triple and nine home runs with 52 RBI, 47 runs scored and 101 hits in 338 at-bats. He registered 31 walks against 50 strikeouts and had a .444 slugging percentage.

In the postseason, Brantley went just one for 11 with one walk against four strikeouts as the Indians lost to the New York Yankees in five games in the 2017 American League Division Series.

Undeniably, Bruce was a huge part of the Indians’ stretch run, including the AL-record 22-game winning streak and second straight trip to the postseason.

In 43 games with the Indians after a mid-August trade from the New York Mets, Bruce belted seven home runs, nine doubles and two triples in 149 at-bats. Eighteen of his 37 hits went for extra bases, and he drove in 26 runs with 21 scored.

During the postseason, Bruce smashed three extra-base hits, two home runs and one double, with four RBI and five runs scored. In his Indians postseason debut, a 4-0 win over the Yankees, Bruce smashed a double off the wall in left field, a home run to the seats in right and drove in three runs.

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During the 2017 season, Santana hit .259 with 23 home runs, 37 doubles, 79 runs batted in, another 90 scored and 148 hits over 154 games. Additionally, Santana struck out 94 times, but worked his way to 88 walks.

In his eight years with the Indians, Santana had a .249 batting average with 995 hits in 3,994 at-bats over 1,116 regular-season games. He belted 236 doubles, 13 triples and 174 home runs, drove in 587 runs, scored another 573 and drew 726 walks against 812 strikeouts.