With Zimmer healthy, there were a couple different scenarios for where Kipnis might play in 2018, though the signing of first baseman Yonder Alonso -- which in turn means Michael Brantley, when healthy, will stay in left field -- made that picture much clearer.
Indians manager Terry Francona has said that nothing has been set in stone, and there are several variables that could change things during spring training. For example, if Brantley isn't ready by Opening Day, some things could be shifted around, including Kipnis playing some left field. But, in all likelihood, the plan is for Kipnis to again return to second base, pushing Ramirez back to third.
"More than likely he plays second," Francona said. "The winter isn't over yet. The way we're aligned, it certainly looks like that's the right thing to do. He's preparing for that. Jose will shoot over to third. Whether we have Brantley right at Opening Day or maybe a little later, he goes to left. And we stay in our alignment."
Kipnis is still looking to talk with Francona and president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti to nail down a plan.
"You know, I tried to show last year, I'll play wherever they want," Kipnis said. "Second base is what I've become used to. It feels good to have 1/8Francona3/8 say that or be a part of the lineup or be part of this thing going forward. Personally, I think we're at our best when I'm contributing. But if I'm not contributing, who am I to say that I'm the best option? I think when I'm healthy, I think there's no one better there. I plan to prove that."
Combine the positional questions from this winter with Kipnis' salary (he's owed a base salary of $13.5 million in 2018, $14.5 million in 2019 and has a club option for 2020 valued at $16.5 million with a $2.5 million buyout) and he became a natural trade candidate for a club needing to allocate its resources in the best possible way.
One report indicated that the Indians nearly had a deal in place with the New York Mets, but it was shot down at the last minute, most likely by ownership in New York.
"There's nothing I can do about it," Kipnis said of the rumors. "That's part of the business. Guys get traded all the time. They know I love playing here and want to stay here, but I understand the business side of it. Stuff like that is usually out of the player's control and our job is only to take care of what we can take care of, so I just worry about getting ready for the season."
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