CLEVELAND — For the first time in nearly a decade, the Cleveland Indians will enter the season with a new starting second baseman. According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, the Indians have agreed to a one-year, $6.25 million contract with free agent Cesar Hernandez.
Entering his eighth season in the Major Leagues, Hernandez spent the first seven years of his career with the Philadelphia Phillies. Appearing in 161 games in 2019, he hit for a .279 batting average (.741 OPS), to go along with 14 home runs and 71 RBIs.
The Indians' signing of Hernandez all but officially brings an end to Jason Kipnis' career in Cleveland after the 32-year-old had spent the previous nine seasons with the franchise. A 2-time All-Star, Kipnis has been a free agent since the end of the 2019 season, but could have re-signed with the Indians had they not found a new starting second baseman.
In signing the 29-year-old Hernandez, Cleveland fills one of the biggest holes currently remaining in its lineup. It also assures that 2-time All-Star Jose Ramirez will remain at third base after the idea of him shifting to second base had previously been floated.
In addition to being a productive hitter, Hernandez is also a serviceable fielder who posted a 0.9 dWAR (defensive wins above replacement) last season. For comparison's sake, Kipnis' dWAR measured in at -0.3 in 2019.
As for who Hernandez will now be pairing with in the middle of the Indians' infield, that remains to be seen. Last week, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Indians were "reaching a critical stage" in their trade talks involving shortstop Francisco Lindor with Cleveland asking suitors to submit their final offers for the 4-time All-Star.