Indians commit 5 years to promising catcher Santana
Carlos Santana had an impressive first full season as a major league catcher. So good, the Cleveland Indians are giving him five more years to top it.
Santana signed a five-year, $21-million US contract on Tuesday with the Indians, who locked up one of their core players through the 2016 season. The deal includes a club option for 2017.
The Indians had contractual control the next four years over Santana, who would have not been eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season. However, after Santana hit 27 homers last season and improved behind the plate, the Indians felt the timing was right to guarantee he'll have an extended stay in Cleveland.
On Twitter, team president Mark Shapiro wrote, "Excited to get a multiyear deal done with Carlos that could keep him here through 2017. He's an exciting middle-of-the-diamond run producer that we can build around.
It's the second major signing in a week for the Indians, who gave all-star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera a new three-year deal last week. Cabrera will make $6.5 million on 2013 and $10 million on 2014.
Last season, Santana, who celebrated his 26th birthday on Sunday by hitting two home runs in Cleveland's win over Toronto, was one of only four major leaguers to have at least 25 homers, 35 doubles and 90 walks. He set the club record for homers by a switch-hitter.
The Indians acquired Santana in 2008 in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers for third baseman Casey Blake.
Santana played 66 games at first base in 2011, but the Indians will keep him behind the plate more this season after signing free agent Casey Kotchman. Santana will occasionally be used as the designated hitter to rest his legs and keep his bat in a lineup that's batting just .153 through four games.
Santana is hitting .250 (4-for-16) with four runs batted in this season. He had an RBI single in Monday's loss to the Chicago White Sox.