After working out at the hot corner during winter ball and spring training, Carlos Santana will open the season as the Indians' primary third baseman, the team announced. Lonnie Chisenhall has made the club in a bench role.
Here are the details, courtesy of MLB.com's Jordan Bastian:
Francona said today that Santana is the Tribe's third baseman. It won't be a platoon situation with Chisenhall. Santana also backup catcher.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 25, 2014
How Chisenhall will be used remains fluid. He will likely see ABs at third base when Santana catches. Can also DH, or come off bench as PH.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 25, 2014
"I thought we could be the best team with Carlos and Lonnie. I'm not exactly sure how that's going to play itself out," said manager Terry Francona to Bastian.
Santana, 27, has been a catcher for the last eight years, including the last four at the MLB level. He also played some first base for the Tribe these last few seasons. Third base will not be a completely new experience to him -- Santana originally signed as a third baseman before being converted to a catcher in the minors.
Santana hit .268/.377/.455 (137 OPS+) with 20 home runs last season and he owns a career 130 OPS+, but Cleveland can afford to move him out from behind the plate thanks to the emergence of Yan Gomes. Gomes, 26, hit .294/.345/.481 (133 OPS+) last season, his first with the team, and took over as the regular backstop with Santana at first or DH.
The 25-year-old Chisenhall has hit .244/.284/.411 (94 OPS+) with 23 home runs in 203 games with the Indians over the last three years. He has failed to grab hold of that third base job, but he has some power and would be a useful left-handed role player. Chisenhall could also be a late-inning defensive replacement for Santana at third.