Time To Say Goodbye To Jack Hannahan
By Mike Brandyberry
Everyone loves a good underdog or a good come from behind story, especially Clevelanders. It’s probably why Tribe fans have a soft spot for Jack Hannahan.
Hannahan was a non-roster invite to spring training in 2010 and thought to be a back up plan to hold third base until Lonnie Chisenhall was ready to assume the position, but once Jason Donald broke a bone in his hand the door was open. Jumpin Jack ran right through the door of opportunity and took advantage of the open spot. Even after Donald was healthy, Hannahan’s scrappy defense and surprising offensive pop kept him at AAA.
However, despite finding a diamond in the rough, it is time for the Indians to let Hannahan go.
Hannahan is due to receive between $1.4-1.9 million in salary this winter if the Indians choose to offer arbitration to the third baseman. And while the payroll is expected to increase, the Tribe still is expected to have to be financially careful in their development of a 2012 roster. Not offering Hannahan arbitration, and allowing him to become a free agent would save the Indians at least a million dollars that could be used on the free agent market.
It may seem harsh for Hannahan, but Chisenhall and Donald are almost certains to make the Opening Day roster and both can play the hot corner. Chisenhall is expected to be the starter and the third baseman for years to come. Donald is a utility man who can also play shortstop and second base. Hannahan does not have the flexibility to play the middle infield. While he did play first base in a pinch at times in 2011, he doesn’t have anywhere near the production offensively to be slated for any serious playing time there.
Some Hannahan supporters feel a one year contract would benefit the Indians because he could act as “Chisenhall Insurance,” if the young, developing prospect were to struggle and need to revisit AAA. Hannahan has been a career journeyman his entire career. The Indians never expected him to be a contributor this season and his eight home runs and .250 batting average exceeded expectations. Chisenhall, the player who he would insure, already hit seven home runs and hit .255 in over 100 less at bats. Hannahan overachieved this season and the young prodigy has already passed him in production.
Fans must remember Donald was slated to play third base before he was injured in Spring Training. By all measures, he is your insurance policy. Hannahan also will cost three to four times as much as Donald in 2012. Not financially smart for a team that has to be financially smart when deciding to build a winner.
Finally, to keep all three would create a logjam for playing time and roster space, which the Indians can not afford on a player costing nearly $2 million. Teams usually carry 13 position players on the active roster. It is safe to assume Chisenhall, Donald, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis will all return to the infield. Add Carlos Santana and Lou Marson to the catching ranks and Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo to the outfield as near certainties to return for 2012. The Tribe will add two more outfielders to the roster for sure, plus designated hitter Travis Hafner.
That makes 11 of the 13 position player roster spots spoken for already, with no every day option to play first base yet. It would be tough to give one of those two available spots to a one dimensional, one position player, no matter how nice of a guy he is.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images