CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians had plenty of personnel decisions to make heading into the offseason after coming up short against the New York Yankees in the 2017 American League Division Series last October.
And now, a month before pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear, Arizona, for Spring Training, the Indians are catching heat from fans, including the man responsible for organizing the “Perfect Season Parade, 2.0” to protest the Cleveland Browns’ 0-16 showing in 2017, for a perceived lack of activity.
SHAW LEAVES FOR MILE HIGH
The Indians knew it would be tough to re-sign reliever Bryan Shaw because he would command a high salary due to his productivity over the last four years, and that proved to be the case, as their mainstay for the middle innings joined the Colorado Rockies on a four-year, $34 million deal.
A 6-foot-1, 220-pound native of Livermore, California, Shaw spent five of his first seven seasons in Major League Baseball with the Indians, and chose to leave a Cleveland team that has won back-to-back American League Central Division championships and went to Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.
Over 378 career appearances for the Indians, Shaw compiled a 21-22 record with a 3.11 earned run average. In 358.2 innings of work, Shaw allowed 307 hits and 143 runs, 124 of which were earned, and 31 home runs, an average of just over six round-trippers per season.
SANTANA FLIES TO PHILLY
For nearly a decade, Carlos Santana was a key contributor for the Indians, both in the field and especially, at the plate, proving remarkably durable despite playing physically demanding positions, namely catcher in the early part of his career in Cleveland.
During the 2017 season, Santana batted .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.
In 140 games at first base last season, Santana registered 1,055 putouts and 95 assists against just five errors in 1,155 total chances over 1,225.2 innings of work, which made him a finalist for the AL Gold Glove Award.
Santana was a part of 129 double plays and finished the year with a .996 fielding percentage while handling the most chances of his career.
BRUCE HEADS BACK TO BIG APPLE
The logical thinking was the longer outfielder Jay Bruce went without a contract, the more likely it would be that the Indians would be able to bring him back in the fold, but instead, he returned to the New York Mets for a three-year, $39 million deal.
And this was a signing that got heavy pushback from Indians fans.
In 149 at-bats over 43 games with the Indians after a mid-August trade from the Mets, Bruce belted seven home runs, nine doubles and two triples. 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. In his Indians postseason debut, a 4-0 win over the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALDS, Bruce smashed a double off the wall in left field and a home run and drove in three runs.
BRANTLEY OPTION PICKED UP
While the Indians did not sign any of their three big free agents, they did pick up the $12 million club option for oft-injured outfielder Michael Brantley.
Healthy for the first time in nearly three years after back-to-back injury-shortened seasons, Brantley returned to his All-Star form and smacked 69 hits in 228 at-bats (.303 batting average) with 15 doubles, five home runs, 31 runs batted in, 27 runs scored, 22 walks against 37 strikeouts and eight stolen bases over the first half of the season.
At that point, Brantley ranked in the Indians’ top 10 in nearly every offensive category. However, Brantley missed seven weeks late in the season because of a sprained ankle and 72 games due to a variety of issues in 2017.
Over the last two years, Brantley has missed 223 out of a possible 324 games.