Cleveland Indians spring training preview continues with a look at 2B.
Who’s on second base won’t be a mystery for the Cleveland Indians in 2021, as Cesar Hernandez will man the spot for Terry Francona for the second straight season.
Hernandez won a Gold Glove for the Tribe last season, while also proving to be one of the lineup’s most consistent hitters.
Hernandez re-upping with the Tribe is more than the Tribe getting an excellent defender, though. Hernandez’s ability to hit lead-off is huge, considering there’s no viable candidate on the expected 26-man roster who could do it right now.
To top it all off, Hernandez is a switch hitter. He hit .253 last season while getting on base at a .355 clip. He was much better against righties (.297), compared to southpaws (.246)/
Despite a decorated campaign, Hernandez had to take a payout this season, signing for about $1.25 million less than what he signed for in 2020. He’ll make $5 million this season, while the Tribe carries an option for the 2022 season, as well.
Cleveland Indians depth at 2B
Amed Rosario: Acquired in the deal for Francisco Lindor, Rosario was once one of the best prospects in baseball. After the deal, and prior to the Hernandez signing, it didn’t seem far fetched to put him at second, next to his Mets’ teammate, Andres Gimenez.
Signing a Gold Glover nixed that idea, though. However, considering his salary of $4 million, Rosario will likely be playing somewhere, as the Tribe’s not going to pay him that to ride the pine. I fear they will start Gimez in the minors and look elsewhere, internally, to fill short.
That doesn’t mean Rosario will be given the job though, as he’s horrible defensively.
Yu Chang looked like a prime candidate to get a shot at starting at second base when Hernandez hit the open the market.
Now, he’ll compete for time at shortstop if the organization isn’t willing to make Andres Gimenez the Opening Day shortstop.
Chang looked like Babe Ruth during Summer Camp at Progressive Field last season, as every day brought new tales of tape-measure home runs of some of the Indians’ best pitchers.
It’s a wonder why the Tribe couldn’t give him an outfield mit. As a shortstop, Chang has to be a tremendous athlete. With nothing left to prove at the minors, he needs regular playing time so the organization can find out if he’s a viable starter.
Ernie Clement: He’s basically a younger Mike Freeman (who is in camp, by the way). Terry Francona really likes Clement, who was just added to the 40-man roster this winter. He’s a contract hitter with a lifetime minor-league average of .279. He’s tailor-made for the utility role.
Mike Freeman: He’s battling Clement and Chang for the utility job, and unlike those guys, he’s played many positions at the big-league level, including every infield position and left field. Heck, the guy even threw two innings last season.
Cleveland Indians longshot
Tyler Freeman has emerged as one of the team’s top prospects after being plucked in the second round out of high school.
He’s played mostly shortstop in the minors, bu the Indians are hoarding at the position throughout their minor leagues. It’s always been said Freeman would play second base if he reached the big leagues.
Look for Freeman to play in the minors after missing out on a season in 2020, especially because he’s behind an established starter. Plus, you don’t want to put him in a utility role. This kid needs to play every day.