On the day Santana finalized a free agent contract for three years and $60 million to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, the Indians found his replacement at first base late Wednesday, reportedly coming to terms on a two-year contract with All-Star Yonder Alonso.
The former first-round pick and top prospect just wrapped up a career year split between Oakland and Seattle. Alonso, 31 in April, batted .266 with a personal-best 28 home runs and 67 RBIs in 142 games last season.
Alonso also had an on-base percentage of .866, and statistically had a better year than Santana in every major offensive category except RBIs. He also hit 22 doubles, drew 68 walks and struck out 118 times in 2017.
Defensively, he committed 10 errors had boasted a .990 fielding percentage in 1,037 chances at first base.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale first reported the agreement, which is believed to be for $16 million guaranteed over the 2018 and 2019 seasons — with an $8 million vesting option for 2020. The team has not yet confirmed the signing.
Alonso was drafted seventh overall in the first round of the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft by the Cincinnati Reds. He spent two seasons in Cincinnati (2010-11) and was traded to the San Diego Padres prior to the 2012 season as part of the Edinson Volquez trade for Mat Latos.
He was moved by the Padres in a trade to the Oakland A’s prior to the 2016 season in a deal that involved two former Indian players — relief pitcher Marc Rzepczynski and Drew Pomeranz.
This past season, he earned his first All-Star appearance — voted as a reserve by the palyer’s vote.
Alonso hit .266 (85-for-319) with 22 homers and 49 RBI with the A's. After being acquired as a waiver trade on Aug. 6 with the Mariners, who were trying to make a playoff push, Alonso hit .265 (35-for-132) with six homers and 18 RBI.
The move is expected to give the Indians and manager Terry Francona the ability to use Alonso with right-handed slugger Edwin Encarnacion at first base and designated hitter.
Francona adopted a similar strategy with Santana and Encarnacion last season, as well as Santana and Mike Napoli in 2016.