CLEVELAND — The Indians didn’t take long to cover their opening at first base.
After losing Carlos Santana to Philadelphia in free agency, Cleveland agreed to a $16 million, two-year contract with first baseman Yonder Alonso, a person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press.
The 30-year-old was to take a physical Thursday to finalize the deal, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the agreement.
Alonso hit a career-high 28 homers last season and became a first-time All-Star. He batted .266 with 67 RBIs in stints with Oakland and Seattle. A left-handed hitter, Alonso has credited changing his swing with the uptick in power numbers.
Santana left a sizable void in Cleveland’s lineup after agreeing to a $60 million, three-year contract with Philadelphia. Santana was a dependable, switch-hitting threat in manager Terry Francona’s lineup.
Alonso’s signing would seem to end any speculation about either Michael Brantley or Jason Kipnis moving to first. Brantley is back despite the All-Star outfielder’s almost constant injuries the past two seasons, and Kipnis moved to the outfield last season so the Indians could keep Jose Ramirez at second base.
Alonso, who also has played for Cincinnati and San Diego, has a .268 career batting average with 67 homers and 306 RBIs. The Mariners acquired him from the Athletics in a trade last August.
The Indians also made minor league deals official with outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. and right-hander Alexi Ogando. Both players will be at big league training camp in Goodyear, Ariz.
If healthy, the 33-year-old Upton could give the Indians more outfield depth and speed. He was limited to just 12 games last season because of right thumb and shoulder injuries. Upton is sixth among active players with 300 career steals.
Ogando, who began his career as an outfielder in Oakland’s system, went 2-1 with a 3.94 ERA in 36 games for Atlanta last season. The 34-year-old has also pitched for Texas, appearing in 18 postseason games.
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