The future of Michael Brantley with the Cleveland Indians hangs in the balance. Brantley has an $11 million dollar team option for 2018. The Indians have until the end of the World Series to decide if they want to pick up the option or exercise the $1 million dollar buyout which would make Brantley a free agent. It was announced on Wednesday that Brantley underwent right ankle surgery and will not be able to resume baseball activities for four to five months. That timetable puts his start to the 2018 season in jeopardy.
Brantley had a solid first half of the season in which he hit .299 with 20 doubles, 9 homers and 52 RBI which earned him a spot on the American League All-Star team. He injured his right ankle in August. He only had three regular season at bats after the injury and went 1 for 11 in the postseason. Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti touched on Brantley’s injury history factoring into the decision of whether or not to bring him back.
“What we know about Michael is that when he’s healthy, he’s been really productive. So the things we have to weigh are the expected level of productivity and how available he’ll be to perform. Those are the things we have to weigh and what we’ll spend time working through over the next couple of weeks.”
There is a possibility the Indians could decline the option and try to re-sign Brantley to a cheaper one year deal. Brantley’s injury history and the fact that he may miss the start of the 2018 season makes picking up the option a risky decision. The Indians may be best suited to let Brantley go and use the option money to help re-sign some of their other key free agents such as Jay Bruce, Carlos Santana and Austin Jackson.