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On keeping Roberto Perez, trying to trade Brad Hand and other Cleveland Indians’ quick hits – cleveland.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Indians said goodbye to first baseman Carlos Santana and closer Brad Hand, two veterans who have performed well for them, on Friday. The reason was clear — money.

They declined to exercise the 2021 clubs options for Santana and Hand because Santana would have made $17.5 million and Hand $10 million. Santana had a down year in 2020, but Hand, under normal circumstances, was far from overpriced. Especially since he led the big leagues with 16 saves in 16 chances during the 60-game season.

But these are not normal circumstances with MLB suffering operations losses, according to Commissioner Rob Manfred, of between $2.8 billion and $3 billion because the pandemic which limited the season 60 games without fans. Manfred, in a recent interview, said teams took on over $8 billion in loans to get through the season.

The Indians did exercise catcher Roberto Perez’s 2021 option worth $5.5 million. When asked why, Antonetti told reporters Friday night on a Zoom call: “We continue to believe Roberto is one of the best defensive catchers in baseball and a key leader on our team. We’re excited to have him back as a key component for us and we’ve seen the difference he can make when he’s behind the plate and leading a pitching staff.”

Perez, a Gold Glove winner last year, is a finalist against this season. BIS (Baseball Info Solutions) awarded his second straight Field Bible award on Wednesday as the top defensive catcher in the big leagues.

Offensively, he was a non-factor this year after injuring his right shoulder in the season opener after hitting a career-high 24 homers in 2019. Antonetti says he’s fully recovered.

Here are some additional quick hits from Antonetti:

* The Indians tried to trade Hand before declining his option, but couldn’t find a partner.

“With Brad it was a really difficult decision,” said Antonetti. “He’s been such a critical part of our team for the last few seasons. … In the end, we did take some time to explore the trade market for Brad and weren’t able to find a fit for him. That led to the decision to decline the option. Again, a very difficult decision.”

The three-time All-Star, in 2 1/2 seasons with the Indians, went 8-6 with a 2.78 ERA. He finished 86 of 111 appearances, converting 89% (58-for-65) of his save chances. He averaged 13 strikeouts and 2.9 walks per nine innings. HIs ERA+ in 2020 was 226, when the league average was 100.

* Santana has played 10-plus seasons in the big leagues. He’s spent nine with the Indians playing first base, catcher, third and some outfield. He ranks second in team history with 881 walks and is tied for fifth with Hal Trosky with 216 home runs.

This year may have been his worst as an Indian, but would they bring him back at a reduced rate? Antonetti said Santana probably needs time to study his options, as do the Indians. But it sounds like the door would be open.

“We’ll stay in touch because as you know Carlos is near and dear to our hearts and has been such a huge part of our team for the better part of the last decade at this point,” said Antonetti. “He has fans throughout the organization on the coaching staff, in the clubhouse, in the front office. Everyone to a person loves Carlos and would love to have him continue to be part of the Indians family.”

* When asked about the vacancy at first base, Antonetti said the Indians’ current options are Jake Bauers, Josh Naylor and Bobby Bradley.

* Antonetti said manager Terry Francona has been recovering well from a difficult season in which health problems limited him to 14 games in the dugout.

“He’s back in Tucson continuing his rehabilitation, primarily focused on his hip, which he’s battled on and off for the last few years,” said Antonetti. “He’s moving around, swimming most days. He enjoys being out in the warmth and the sun in Tucson. He’s had a good few weeks since the season ended.”

Antonetti said Francona is encouraged about his prospects of managing next year.

* Top prospect third baseman Nolan Jones is just ending Instructional League in Goodyear, Ariz., with about 50 other Indians minor-leaguers. The Indians are reluctant to move third baseman Jose Ramirez so Jones has been playing some outfield.

Jones’ playing time has been somewhat limited because of the number of players in camp. Antonetti estimated he’s had “35 or so plate appearances, but I might be a little off.”

“We’ve been playing games regularly but we have a lot of guys out there and we’re trying to allocate playing time among all of them,” he said. “He’s doing well. Nolan is such a great athlete, I know he’s a big, physical guy, but as a former hockey player I feel like he does have the athleticism and versatility to play other positions if that’s the best fit on the team. We’ve continued to emphasize with him that athleticism over the course of the winter.”

Jones was part of the 60-player pool for the shortened season. He spent the majority of his time at the alternate training site at Classic Park in Eastlake.

* Antonetti confirmed that bench coach Brad Mills will not be rejoining the coaching staff next season. He added that he’ll talk to Mills about another role if he’s interested.

As for the coaching staff in general, Antonetti said, “We expect the rest of our coaching staff to return, but we still have to figure out exactly how we configure it.”

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A variety of Cleveland Indians face masks available online today. (Fanatics.com)

New Indians face masks for sale: Here’s where you can buy Cleveland Indians-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($14.99) and a 3-pack ($24.99). All MLB proceeds donated to charity.

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