CLEVELAND -- It appears reasonably safe to scratch Casey Blake's name from the list of candidates to man third base for the Indians next season.
Blake has drawn interest from several clubs, including the Tribe, but his two most aggressive suitors are the Dodgers and Twins, according to his agent, Jim McDowell.
McDowell has told various news outlets that Blake is seeking a three-year contract, and the Dodgers and Twins appear most inclined to give it to him. It has long been speculated that the Indians would shy away from such a commitment with the 35-year-old Blake, whom they traded to the Dodgers on July 26 for prospects Carlos Santana and John Meloan.
The irony is that the Indians could have locked Blake up for 2009 a year ago, when he was eligible for his final round of arbitration. Instead, they offered him a one-year deal, thinking that Andy Marte would be ready to step in as the everyday third baseman by this point.
Marte, who has batted .320 in his first 14 games of action in the Dominican Winter League, does not appear to be in the Indians' plans for next season. He is out of Minor League options, meaning the Indians will have to expose him to waivers if they try to send him to the Minors.
All of this serves to leave a gaping hole at third, with few realistic free-agent options to fill it. It remains a possibility that the Indians will shift shortstop Jhonny Peralta to the hot corner and second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera to short, if a viable second baseman is found.
Just in case that scenario takes place, Peralta is currently playing some third base in the Dominican.
Should the versatile Blake, who can play both corner infield and outfield spots, land with another club, the only other everyday third baseman available in free agency is Joe Crede, formerly of the White Sox. The Indians have concerns about the condition of Crede's back, as he's had two surgeries in the last two years and has only played a total of 144 games in that span.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.