Cleveland Indians Spring Training: State of first base

Cleveland Indians Spring Training preview: Who’s on first?

Spring Training is here for the Cleveland Indians, and there’s plenty to sort out as the Indians fight to stay competitive in a division with with contenders in the White Sox and Twins.

Overview: The position is open for the taking following Carlos Santana’s departure to Kansas City. Santana struggled at the plate last season after a career year in 2019. His defense at first was always superb though.

Cleveland Indians 1B: Projected Starter

Josh Naylor: When he’s not owning the Yankees in the postseason (2.286 OPS), he’s a versatile player who can play first and the outfield.

I’d love for Jake Bauers to claim the first base job and mash, but it’s a long shot. For this reason, I expect Naylor to log more innings at first than any player on the roster in 2021.

He’s always hit well in the minors and (.298, .788 OPS) and can hit lefties and righties the same.

The Indians signed Eddie Rosario in free agency, filling in left field, which was the spot Naylor was playing a season ago. Local media reports treat left and right fields interchangeably, though, so one would think one these players could go to right, particularly if Bauers comes through.

Cleveland Indians 1B: will get a look

Jake Bauers couldn’t crack the lineup despite a huge need for outfielders a season ago, but the former top-100 prospect will get every opportunity to make the 26-man roster because he is out of minor league options.

If he doesn’t make the club, the Indians will trade him or try and pass him through waivers.

Bauers was taking reps at first base on Monday during the Indians’ first full-squad workout.

Franmil Reyes:

Bobby Bradley: Much is made of how much Bradley strikes out (1/3 of his plate appearances resulted in a strikeout out at Triple-A in 2019). That said, much is made of his power, as well.

That’s baseball these days, though. Swing hard, or go home. That said, Bradley has to power enough balls into the gaps or over the walls so that he doesn’t became an empty spot in the lineup.

He had a cup of coffee with the Tribe in 2019, and it was rather forgettable. No judgements can be made off those 15 games and 49 plate appearances, though.

I’ve also wondered what he can do in right field…but with first base open, his chance to claim a job is here.

Cleveland Indians 1B: Long shot

Franmil Reyes: There’s no denying where this force will hit in the lineup, but where will he play in the field. After all, the Indians seemed determined to glue a glove to the hand of their designated hitter.

Reyes sounds determined to log innings in the outfield this season, and social media showed him taking grounders at first during the offseason. That said, the slugger admitted he hasn’t done any serious work at the position.

One would hope the Indians have him focus on one position, and since he has a history of an outfielder, let that be his focus. Would be surprised if he plays more than five games in the outfield this season, for what it’s worth.