Late Friday night they traded first baseman Yonder Alonso to AL Central rival Chicago White Sox for minor-league outfielder Alex Call.
The trade follows the Indians' acquisition of first basemen Carlos Santana and Jake Bauers on Friday in a three-team deal with Seattle and Tampa Bay. The Indians sent Edwin Encarnacion and a compensatory draft pick to the Mariners for Santana. They acquired Bauers, who can also play left and right field, for Yandy Diaz from the Rays.
As soon as that deal was made, it seemed as if Alonso would be next. Alonso signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Indians last December. He will make $8 million in 2019 with vesting club option for 2020 worth $9 million with a $1 million buyout.
Alonso hit .250 last season with 23 homers and 83 RBI. He appeared in 145 games, finishing second among AL first baseman with 81 RBI. Alonso faded in the second half, hitting .238 (51-for-214) with 10 homers and 30 RBI in 60 games.
The Indians, who are trying to gain payroll flexibility, have traded Yan Gomes, Encarnacion, Diaz and Alonso since Nov. 30. For the lyrically inclined, you’ve probably already realized that the Indians have traded Yan, Yandy and Yonder in an extremely short period of time. Gomes was scheduled to make $7 million in 2019, Diaz was just over the big-league minimum of $555,000, while Alonso was scheduled to make $8 million in 2019.
They’ve also taken the two years left on Santana’s contract at $35 million, while trading away Encarnacion and the $25 million he’s owed -- $20 million in 2019 plus a $5 million buyout on his club option in 2020.
The Indians and White Sox traditionally don’t do much business. This is the first trade between the teams since the Indians sent catcher-first baseman Matt Merullo to Chicago for outfielder Ken Ramos on March 30, 1994.
Call, 24, played at Class A WInston-Salem and Class AA Birmingham last season. He hit a combined .248 (107-for-431) with 28 doubles, four triples, 12 homers and 58 RBI in 123 games. He entered last season as Chicago’s 21st-ranked prospect according to Baseball America. He was Chicago’s third-round pick in the 2016 draft out of Ball State University.
That the Indians received just a minor-league outfielder for Alonso in all likelihood means the White Sox are assuming the bulk, if not all, of his contract. Chicago may have had an ulterior motive -- they are pursuing shortstop Manny Machado, who is Alonso’s brother-in-law.
The Indians' 40-man roster stands at 38 players.