CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Indians have traded a lot of players this winter, but the one who seemed the most logical to go is still with them.
That would be second baseman/outfielder Jason Kipnis, who is in the final year of his contract. The Indians tried hard to trade him after the 2017 season, but he was coming off a poor season and had two years left on his contract.
This winter they tried again. When the Indians were approached about possibly trading right-handers Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer, they tried to attach Kipnis and/or Edwin Encarnacion to the deal. They were eventually able to send Encarnacion to Seattle for Carlos Santana in an exchange of bulky contracts.
Kipnis, however, has proven to be a tougher sell. It’s not only because of a second shaky season and the fact that he’ll make $14.7 million this year. After a poor start, Kipnis rebounded by hitting .260 with 14 homers and 50 RBI over his final 83 games of the season.
But what has really made Kipnis hard to trade is a free agent market loaded with good second basemen. Lately they’ve been signing in a rush with D.J. LeMahieu going to the Yankees, Brian Dozier to the Nationals and Jed Lowrie to the Mets.
Earlier in the winter Ian Kinsler signed with the Padres, Daniel Descalso with the Cubs, Daniel Murphy with the Rockies, Jonathan Schoop with the Twins and Cory Spangenberg with the Brewers. Second basemen such as Josh Harrison, Adrubal Cabrera, Andrew Romine, Neil Walker, Brandon Phillips, Sean Rodriguez and Logan Forsythe are still looking for work.
So for the time being, Kipnis will be the keeper of the flame, one of the final reminders of that group of Indians who reached Game 7 of the World Series in 2016 and now is largely gone.