It never seemed likely Cleveland would bring the veteran first baseman back on such a lucrative option.
The 34-year-old was superb in his return to the team in 2019, hitting .281 with 34 homers, 93 RBI, 110 runs and a .911 OPS. His homers tied a career high, while his batting average, runs, RBI and OPS were all career bests.
But Santana struggled in 2020's COVID-shortened season, hitting just .199 with eight homers, 30 RBI and 34 runs in 60 contests. His on-base percentage (.349), slugging percentage (.350) and OPS (.699) were all the worst marks of his career.
Perhaps in a full season, he would have improved at the dish. Players can run into pretty long hot and cold streaks in a traditional 162-game season, but his dip in production was more than a justifiable excuse to decline a $17.5 million option.
In fact, it was expected that Cleveland would decline that figure and perhaps look to re-sign him on a much cheaper deal, potentially even on a minor league contract. That remains a possibility, especially if the team believes he can rediscover his 2019 form.
By declining that option, Cleveland can use the payroll space to bolster other areas of the roster and still bring back Santana at a more reasonable number.