CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians announced on Friday that the team has declined the 2021 club options on three players, making them free agents, while exercising the 2021 option on one player.
The Tribe declined the 2021 club options on closer Brad Hand, first baseman Carlos Santana and outfielder Domingo Santana. All three players are now free agents.
Hand’s option was worth $10 million, Carlos’ option was worth $17.5 million and Domingo’s option was worth $5 million. The Tribe will pay Hand a $1 million buyout, Carlos a $500,000 buyout and Domingo a $250,000 buyout.
Last season, Hand was a top three finalist for the American League Reliever of the Year award, leading the league in saves with 16 and posting a 2.05 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 22 innings.
The Tribe explored the trade market for Hand but were unable to find a fit, leading them to the decision to decline his option.
Carlos, who was an AL All-Star and Silver Slugger in 2019, seemed to struggle while playing in MLB’s shortened 60-game season this year. The first baseman’s slash line dropped from .281/.397/.515. in 2019 to .199/.349/.350 in 2020.
Although Carlos is a free agent, Indians president Chris Antonetti said that they are open to bringing him back to Cleveland on a lesser contract if things work out that way.
“We’d be open to anything,” Antonetti said. “I think in fairness to Carlos, he probably needs to take some time and examine what his alternatives might be and gain some additional information and it’ll be important for us to get a little bit more clarity as the offseason goes on, but we’ll stay in touch because 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.
“He has fans throughout the organization—on the coaching staff, in the clubhouse, front office—we’d love to have him continue to be part of the Indians family.”
Domingo, who the team hoped would provide power hitting to the lineup, only managed 11 hits and two home runs in the 24 games he played this season.
Antonetti said that one of the things that made this year so hard in regards to option decisions was the unprecedented circumstances—from the delayed season, to the shortened schedule, to MLB’s bubble system.
While the Tribe declined the three aforementioned options, the team did exercise the 2021 club option for Roberto Pérez.
Pérez, 31, is one of the league’s best catchers, leading the position in caught stealing percentage, throwing out 69% of would-be base stealers. He has a career best 126-game errorless streak which he carries into the 2021 season and is currently a Rawlings Gold Glove finalist.
In the 2020 season, Pérez finished third in the AL in defensive runs saved with six, despite being limited throughout the season with a shoulder strain.
Pérez struggled offensively this year, however, hitting .165 during the 60-game regular season.
Antonetti said the team is excited to have Pérez back with the team next season.
“We’ve seen the difference he can make when he’s behind the plate and leading the pitching staff and he’s also been able to put together productive offensive seasons when he’s been healthy and so we’re hopeful that will be the case again next year,” Antonetti. “[His shoulder] did hamper him this season but at this point he’s fully healthy.”