Well Cleveland Indians fans, we have finally made it to Spring Training!
Pitchers and catchers officially reported to camp in Goodyear, Arizona this week.
The first full squad workout is scheduled for February 22 when all position players are required to report.
There has been plenty of talk in the sports media about how the Indians will try to replace Francisco Lindor.
One key question not being asked is how will the Tribe replace slugging first baseman Carlos Santana.
Santana signed with the Kansas City Royals during the offseason as a free agent.
Who should open the 2021 campaign as the starting first baseman?
Here are three candidates.
1. Bobby Bradley
We can confirm that Bobby Bradley hits the ball HARD.
Exit velocity: 110.1 mph 👀 pic.twitter.com/FUP69q0riq
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) June 25, 2019
It is no secret that Bobby Bradley has been working out like a madman the entire offseason.
Heck, there were some videos going around that showed Bradley deadlifting what looked to be the weight of a Honda Civic.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder knows that the time is now if he wants to win the starting job at first base.
Bradley definitely has Santana-like power at the plate and the Indians would love to have another left-handed bat in the lineup.
The biggest key for Bradley will be if he can learn to draw more walks and cut down on his high strikeout totals.
2. Josh Naylor
Josh Naylor went 4-4 last night and was a triple shy of the cycle.#OurTribe pic.twitter.com/WDoo24GGZP
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) September 30, 2020
Josh Naylor is an interesting case because he can be utilized as a first baseman, an outfielder, or as a designated hitter.
Some depth charts do not even list Naylor as competing for time at first and list him only as an outfielder.
At 5-foot-11 and 250 pounds, Naylor is huge and definitely has the physique of a power hitter.
The team is hoping that Naylor can put up some devastating numbers at the plate once he can finally get a full season under his belt.
Hopefully, Naylor can translate his best minor league season (2018) over to the majors.
During that banner year of 2018, Naylor smacked 17 home runs and drove in 74 runs.
The Ontario native also showed a great deal of promise during the Indians two playoff games last season.
It will be interesting to see if Naylor can build on that positive momentum.
3. Jake Bauers
Jake Bauers is the first person to hit for the cycle in MLB since Shohei Ohtani did it … yesterday.#RallyTogether pic.twitter.com/p4qH4SkY6F
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) June 15, 2019
Jake Bauers looks to be the best defender in this group.
The former Tampa Bay Ray has played in 107 Major League games at first base so he definitely has the edge over Bradley and Naylor as far as experience.
Bauers also has good pop in his bat, as he has hit 23 career homers in only 695 MLB at-bats.
The key area for Bauers to improve on will be his batting average as it was only .201 in 2018 and .226 in 2019.
A lot is up in the air for Bauers because he did not play at all during the shortened 2020 season.
Who Will Win the Job?
Will it be Bradley, Naylor, or Bauers in the Opening Day starting lineup at first base?
All three players have plenty of power potential so it is definitely a tough choice to make.
Luckily, Spring Training games start soon and we will get to see how it all pans out.
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