A good infielder and a couple of outfielders round out Cleveland’s free agents.
When the Indians let longtime second baseman Jason Kipnis go after the 2019 campaign, they looked to free agent Cesar Hernandez to replace him. Hernandez, who made his baseball mark as the Phillies’ regular second sacker for most of his seven Philadelphia seasons, didn’t disappoint.
Playing in all but two of the Indians’ 60 games, Hernandez led the American League in doubles with 20, slashed .283/.355/.408, and won the first Gold Glove of his career. His slash lined up well with his career .277/.352/.383 and, while three home runs were far less than the 15 and 14 he clubbed in 2018 and 2019, his bat gave Cleveland nothing to complain about.
Hernandez will turn 31 in May, which means he could probably give the KC Royals at least a couple of productive years. He’d be an immediate offensive improvement over incumbent Royal second baseman Nicky Lopez, but even his recent Gold Glove won’t make him better defensively. Hernandez could help Kansas City, but the club isn’t ready to give up on Lopez’s bat.
Delino DeShields is probably better known to most baseball fans for the five years he spent patrolling the Texas Rangers’ outfield than he is for his one season in Cleveland. DeShields played 539 games for Texas from 2015-2019, most of them in the center, and hit .246 with 18 home runs. He didn’t homer in 37 games with the Indians in 2020 and hit .252. His speed—he stole over 20 bases four times with the Rangers—helps keep him in the big leagues.
The other Cleveland outfielder on the market, Tyler Naquin, has more power (31 homers in five years) and hits better (.274 career average) than DeShields. His glove is also better.
But DeShields and Naquin don’t check the biggest of the KC Royals’ current boxes. DeShields has virtually no power and Naquin doesn’t have enough.
The KC Royals signed Carlos Santana last month. He’s probably the only Cleveland free agent who’ll join the team.