well, our Cleveland Indians' 2015 season sure did not turn out as everyone had hoped. after Sports Illustrated put the Tribe on their magazine cover and named us as frontrunners to win this year's World Series, we never even made it to the playoffs. instead, we shockingly dropped to 81 wins, down from 85 in 2014 and 90 in 2013 under manager Terry Francona's jurisdiction. this is not the direction that anyone envisioned the Indians would be going in at this point. the task at hand now is mostly up to the front office. new additions to the roster are a must, or else we're in for another year of mediocrity, missed opportunity, and watching other teams play in the October postseason.
in this blog, i go through all the players' contracts and talk about the most sore subject for Tribe fans--the payroll. then i pinpoint our specific needs for 2016 and list players at their positions to see more clearly where we have holes to fill. lastly, following an examination of baseball's current free agents, i name some players that i believe might be a fit for us.
but before we get into all that, i have to acknowledge the biggest Indians news to hit us so soon into the offseason. yes, i'm talking about the
unpleasant announcement of Michael Brantley's shoulder surgery, which will keep him out of games in April and possibly May as well. like things weren't hard enough for the Indians as it was without them losing their best hitter for the start of 2016. sigh. add another OF to our needs.
as sad as i am for Michael, and trust me, i'm heartbroken, i will say this. maybe his surgery and consequential temporary absence is the push that the front office needs in order to finally make a big move that can get us a productive middle of the order bat. we'll see. for the time being, i'm going to play GM here.
note: this blog reflects any offseason moves that have already been made through November 20.
first, let me clear up any confusion about our monetary situation for this offseason. the trade of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn to the Braves
back in August did not free up as much money as fans initially thought
it would. not only did we have to take on the sizable contract of Chris
Johnson, but we also had to pay Atlanta a large sum of money (understood
to be $15 million) to take Swish and Bourn off our hands. when it was all said and done, we came out about $4 million ahead, which is not a lot and doesn't give us that much extra to spend on players.
complicating our limited funds further is that we have many current players whose salaries
will be increasing in 2016 due to pay raises and arbitration. so if the
Indians continue with their usual $80-85 million payroll, then once
again we do not have the excess cash to make any significant splashes this
now let's take a look at all of the 7 set contracts* for 2016. (i pulled these salaries from baseball-reference.com.)
Carlos Santana - $8.25 million
Chris Johnson - $7.5 million
Michael Brantley - $7.375 million
Jason Kipnis - $6,166,667
Corey Kluber - $4.7 million
Carlos Carrasco - $4.5 million
Yan Gomes - $2.5 million
*plus: $7.5 million (the Indians are still on the hook to pay this much of the $15 million that was part of the deal which sent Swish and Bourn to the Braves. the other half was paid at the time of the trade.)
that's a total of $48,491,667, down $9,074,999 from the set contracts that were already in place going into last year's offseason.
next in the arb eligible group, we have 7 more players: Cody Allen, Lonnie Chisenhall, Nick Hagadone, Jeff Manship, Zach McAllister, Bryan Shaw, and Josh Tomlin. after going over what everyone made for the 2015 season and weighing that
against their performance, i came up with what i felt were fair salary
increases for 2016. my total was around $12.3 million. (and if it's a lot more than that, then congrats to those guys for going to arbitration and winning lol) so with this estimation, that brings the payroll up to $60,791,667 and the roster to 14 players.
one player is in a separate category. Trevor Bauer is a pre-arb eligible player with a Major League contract that has expired. it's expected he'll make about the same as he just did in 2015. to make things easy, i'll round up and assume his 2016 salary will be $2 million. that now gives the Tribe a payroll of $62,791,667 and 15 players.
now we have to address the other players who are going to be Indians next season and earning the league minimum. the minimum for 2016
is $507,500, yet some players could earn more--upwards of
510K--depending on service time. let's start with who we know is
guaranteed to be on the team for the league min. Danny Salazar,
Francisco Lindor, Giovanny Urshela, and Roberto Perez are locks i'd say.
it's also highly probable that Jose Ramirez, Abraham Almonte, and Kyle
Crockett make the 25-man roster as well. so that's 7 players i'm
guessing right now to make the team and earn the league minimum, for a
total of at least $3,552,500, and a maximum of $3,570,000. that'll give us 22 players on the team, with a total payroll between $66,344,167 and $66,361,667.
what about some of the other players, like Zach Walters, Jerry Sands,
Austin Adams, and Shawn Armstrong? any one of them could have a
phenomenal spring and conceivably start the year on the Opening Day
roster, too. it's so difficult to predict who all from the league min
group will make the team at the moment, especially because we don't know
if anyone will be traded or if any newbies will be added via free
agency. but i'm gonna press on.
finally, we have to figure out what's going on with our free agents. this offseason, we have Mike Aviles, Ryan Webb, Gavin Floyd, and Ryan Raburn venturing off to potentially seek contracts elsewhere. none of our FAs received qualifying offers (set at $15.8 million this year), nor should any of them have.
i'll begin here with Raburn. the Indians declined to pick up
his $3 million option on November 4 and instead gave him the $100,000
buyout. i was a bit surprised about this considering they dealt away 4
outfielders during the season and are down to merely Brantley, Chiz,
and Almonte, along with a few Triple A backups (Sands and Walters).
Chris Antonetti claimed
it was too early in the offseason to commit that amount of money
to someone. that shows us that money is still gonna be tight if they
can't give 3 mill to Raburn. who else do they think they're going to get
for less? i wonder if they knew that Brantley would be having surgery 5 days after they made the decision to let Raburn go. they tried to justify it by saying they felt Raburn's bat wasn't necessary anymore because they have Johnson. regardless, i think
this was stupid. outfielders have to be a priority now, without a doubt.
of everyone in this group, i definitely want to see Ryan Webb re-sign with us. unfortunately, he might be out of the Indians' price range. he made over $2.6 million in 2015, and he stands to make more in 2016. i think he's worth it, but the Tribe may conclude they have cheaper options that they're just as confident in to fill out the bullpen.
Aviles is probably in the market to make $3-4 million. prior to Brantley's surgery, i presumed the Indians would pass on him, even if he wanted to come back, and simply use Ramirez as their super-utility player going forward since he's still making the league minimum. but this recent surgery bombshell may have forced the Tribe into bringing him back out of convenience. idk.
and although Floyd has expressed interest in coming back, i don't see it happening. while it would be nice to have him for depth, he hasn't proven that he's ready to handle being a starter again. i think we have better options for the 5th spot (cough cough Tomlin). some other team out there will probably offer him $4-5 million and some incentives and guarantee him a starter spot; i don't think the Indians could match those provisions.
so without retaining any of the above free agents, i have the overall 2016 payroll for 22 players standing around $66.5 million. i assume the Indians will at least be willing to match their payroll from last season, which was almost $88 million. so looking at that, it would appear as though we have a decent amount of money to spend. things are not always as they appear however.
here's where there are some discrepancies. according to my favorite stats man, Jordan Bastian, the Indians say they currently have a figure in the ballpark of $70-75 million already committed to players for next season. therefore, we only have $10-15 million to spend in the offseason. yikes. that's not gonna get us anyone high-quality, not that we expected that to happen. i think Tribe fans know by now that we won't be big spenders in free agency, and we have Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, and even Travis Hafner to blame for that.
anyone new we acquire is coming by way of a trade--in which we'll have to give up someone(s) substantial in order to get a substantial return--or cheap free agent whose role would most likely be a part-time player, or reclamation project who may or may not pan out for us. you can be sure the Indians will give out several spring training invites throughout the winter, and there will be at least 1 who ends up on the OD roster, cause there always
is, further throwing a wrench into my predictions. so who's pumped for the offseason? lol
now before i get into our team needs and this offseason's free agent market, let's say our goodbyes to the players who i think are outta here:
--Ryan Raburn isn't gonna be back next year. i will miss seeing him pitch in ridiculous blowout games lol
--Gavin Floyd. can't see him returning either. it was cool that he was able to recover in our organization and pitch a little at the end of the year but i don't think the Indians will commit a starter spot or the money he'll be in line for to him. good luck in your future.
--Mike Aviles. he went through some tough shit as an Indian, and as much as the Tribe rallied around him and cares for his family, i believe his time in Cleveland might be over.
here's an interesting question: does anyone on this team warrant a contract extension at this time? i'm gonna say no. the only 2 players i can even fathom being offered an extension are Bauer and Allen. Bauer might have seriously been up for one if he'd performed better this past year. but as things stand, it would benefit the Tribe to let him pitch another full season in the bigs and see how that goes before committing him to a 4-year deal or something of that sort. and as for Allen, i think it would make more sense to extend him after 2016 as well. they could make him a decent enough offer to keep them from going to arbitration right now and save money until next year. but maybe the Indians are thinking differently. and if they do extend anyone, that's going to increase that player's 2016 salary and also the overall salary i've predicted even more. so we'll see what happens.
if no extensions are considered, next i would scour the free agent pool for some glimmer of a decent starting pitcher, right-handed bat, and outfielder. while we can't afford any of the top dogs, we could potentially take on an older veteran--Francona's
favorite lol--and bring him in on a cheaper, 1-2 year deal. or we might
sign a player who's been struggling recently, for whatever reason, yet
maintains a strong reputation in his past. you never know, a change in
scenery and the right circumstances could bring someone here who
surprises us and positively contributes to the team and its ultimate
okay, time to get to the offseason wish list.
specific Tribe needs for 2016 include:
--a center fielder
--a right fielder (to platoon with Chiz)
--a left fielder (to take Brantley's spot in April/back him up when he's healthy)
--a 3rd baseman
--possibly a 1st baseman
--a few lefties in the bullpen (may already be within our system)
--a starting pitcher for more depth
--a right-handed hitter with some pop for the middle of the order (a plea that goes unanswered every year lol)
it is possible that some of these needs could be achieved with just 1 player. for example, if a guy can play multiple OF positions, that would knock out some of our OF needs. and with limited roster space, that's almost assuredly the route the Indians will try to go in. besides that, they may also attempt to use some relievers that they already have to fulfill my lefty reliever request.
going to break things down by position. as a reminder, we have 7 players with set contracts, 7 who are eligible for arbitration, and 1 pre-arb player. there's also at least 4 league minimum players, if not up to 7. so depending on how the Indians want to go, the current total falls between 19 and 22 committed roster spots, giving us 3-6 open spots.
so let's run through the roster positions and see exactly where we have unoccupied spots that need filling.
left field: Almonte? (Brantley when he returns)
center field: Almonte (Brantley when he returns)
right field: Chisenhall
other OF possibilities: Walters, Sands (if either makes the team)
waiting in Columbus for a call up: Michael Martinez, James Ramsey, Tyler Naquin, Michael Choice
the Indians have made it clear that they'd prefer to keep Brantley in left field, deciding that's easier on his body. so we definitely need an every day CF, and i don't know that Almonte is it. besides that, with Michael starting the year on the DL, we are going to need a left fielder. Chris Antonetti insists Almonte can play left while Brantley's out, but that still leaves us with a need for a center fielder. the outfield is obviously my biggest concern now after we let 5 guys go from last year and won't have Brantley available until May. somehow, this portion of our team has always been thin within the organization. you have the Sands and Walters-type guys, but they cannot be regular starters. not if you want this team to contend. should Martinez get a spot on the OD roster until Brantley's return? i'm not sure he's the solution either. if they can't find anyone to take Brantley's spot, then the Indians might need to seriously consider re-signing Mike Aviles and use him in the outfield again. i know there was also talk of Johnson wanting to learn to play some OF positions, but i don't think the Indians are too keen on that. we need to bring in at least one established OF, if not two. whether he/they will come on a spring invite or non-roster invite or through a trade remains to be seen.
taking into account the 25-man commitments at the moment and our immediate team needs, i'd say this is an area where we have 2 open spots to fill.
1st base: Santana, Johnson
2nd base: Kipnis, Ramirez
shortstop: Lindor, Ramirez
3rd base: Urshela, Ramirez, Johnson
other IF possibilities: Walters, Sands, Martinez
waiting in Columbus: Jesus Aguilar, Ronny Rodriguez, Erik Gonzalez
keep in mind, i made these guesstimations thinking the Tribe does not bring back Aviles and has Ramirez on the OD roster. if Aviles is retained, then replace Ramirez with Aviles. regardless, i think we need at least another 3rd baseman. Johnson was supposedly going to work at 3rd more prior to next season, so he may fill that need when he's not playing 1st.
here's another question: are the Indians totally finished with Chiz as a 3rd baseman? most likely, but in an emergency, he could go back there for a game or two.
regarding the infield and our priority of needs, i think we have 1 open spot to fill.
Behind the plate:
other possibilities: Perez, Santana in a dire emergency?
waiting in Columbus: Adam Moore, Tony Wolters
this position is settled. Gomes is #1 and Perez is #2. Adam Moore elected free agency on November 7, but then re-signed with the Indians on a minor league deal on November 19. he'll probably be the first call up if Gomes or Perez were injured. that said, they still might invite another catcher to spring and then keep him in Triple A for extra backup.
we have 0 open spots to fill here.
this is not a role that needs a full-time player to fulfill it, however Santana could be turning into a sole designated hitter in the future if his defense at 1st continues to falter.
essentially anyone who requires a
break to get off their feet can be the DH for a game, depending on who all has to be at specific fielding positions and who needs to be in the lineup for the day. or if someone is coming back from an injury and needs to slowly reacclimate into the
lineup, they can DH. for this reason, there is 0% chance
that we add a player who is strictly a DH.
we have 0 open spots to fill here, since any current hitter we have or plan to acquire can be a DH as necessary.
Kluber, Carrasco, Bauer, Salazar, Tomlin
other possibilities: Cody Anderson, TJ House
waiting in Columbus: Mike Clevinger, Ryan Merritt
right now we've got Kluber, Carrasco, and Bauer set in stone for 3 spots in the rotation. after the fantastic 2015 season that Salazar just had, i don't see how he won't be in the rotation as well. so really only that 5th spot is up in the air, like it was all last season. Tomlin, Anderson, and House will be battling it out for sure, and possibly another pitcher or two if we bring any to spring training. we'll probably do our typical Tribe thing by inviting some older guys and seeing if they've got anything left in the tank. we could always use extra depth here because injuries will pop up and the 5 guys we open the year with aren't usually the last 5 guys standing.
so between Tomlin, Anderson, and House, i would pick Tomlin for the 5th spot and here is why. in limited time, after coming back from elbow surgery last year, he did phenomenal. i believe that with a healthy offseason and full spring, he's gonna be back to the Tomlin we knew a few seasons ago when he was a force. House is currently rehabbing in Arizona, so i think he's going to need to pitch in Columbus before he's ready to get back in the big league rotation. and then there's Anderson. he was called upon in 2015 and when he was healthy, he sure did deliver. but i don't know that the Indians will start him in Cleveland when the season opens up. they may want him to spend a little more time working on secondary pitches in Columbus for a while. Tomlin's the only one with an established record in the majors so he's my pick. again though, if we can get a cheap starter like the Indians did with Floyd and Shaun Marcum last year, Tomlin might be SOL and also begin his 2016 campaign with the Clippers.
i'm gonna go ahead and say that we do have 1 open spot to fill in our rotation, because the 5th spot is not guaranteed to anyone yet. in any case, we could use another starter for depth, so an additional body won't hurt.
this is tricky because you know we're going to bring a ton of relievers to camp on minor league deals and at least one will end up starting the year as an Indian. but there's still many arms already between Cleveland and Columbus who will be fighting for a spot in the pen. as it stands, i believe there are 4 relievers guaranteed to be on the 25-man roster:
8th inning setup: Shaw
7th or 8th inning: Manship
long relief: McAllister
other possibilities: Nick Hagadone, Kyle Crockett, Shawn Armstrong, Austin Adams, Ryan Webb (if re-signed)
waiting in Columbus: Bryan Price
so let's go through the list of possibilities. Adams started the 2015 season here but didn't last long and spent the year traveling back and forth between the majors and minors. i can't give him a spot outright just yet. Crockett could make the OD roster since he has major league experience and we do need some reliable lefties in the pen, but is he truly reliable? Hagadone is another lefty but he's coming off elbow surgery. it's unknown right now if he'll be ready for Opening Day or pitch well enough in spring to get a roster spot. Armstrong came up late in the year and did exceptionally well. is it time to try him out for a longer stretch and see how he does? idk. and who can say if the Indians will be able to convince Webb to come back here, or if they even want him to. there are so many variables presently, it's hard to predict.
plus, i'm even more unsure of how to fill our needs here because idk if Terry wants a 7 or 8 man bullpen. i know he'd prefer 8 relievers, but in order to have that, he may have to sacrifice an infielder/utility bench man. is he willing to do that?
oh and if you're wondering what happened to C.C. Lee, the Indians sold his contract today (on November 20) to the Seibu Lions of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan. he's had a rough time with the Tribe, hardly even pitched in the bigs in 2015, so maybe this will be a good change for him.
we have at least 3 open spots to fill here in the pen.
in summary, i determined that we need 2 outfielders, 1 infielder, 1 starter, and 3 relievers. that's a total of 7 position-specific needs. who exactly will take those spots is not yet completely known.
if we add those 7 to our other minimum 19 guaranteed spots, we're already over the 25-man roster. but there are some stipulations. we could lose some of our current players in a trade, or some of the guys i think will make the roster may not.
if Tomlin gets that 5th spot, well i've already accounted for his salary in the payroll and spot on the team. so we could take that 1 starter need out of the list, which would put us back at 25 players. i bet the 2 OF come from the outside, and the 1 IF too (if they even decide they need one). and we're guaranteed at least 3 more relievers on the team, so yeah. there's your 25 players. can't wait to see how the final roster is constructed and what newbies join the Tribe.
speaking of possibly losing some players in a trade, who's on the trading block this offseason?
we really don't have any obvious choices. the Indians wisely already got rid of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. that means it will be a sad thing to see whoever gets traded this offseason go. we need hitters more than pitchers, and the only way to bring a big bat here would be by trading one of our top starters. and now with the Brantley issue, they might have to make a trade that they otherwise wouldn't have preferred to do. i've read they are fielding calls about Carlos Carrasco, but i don't expect him to be traded. are the Indians willing to part with Danny Salazar? could they work out a deal with the Chicago Cubs where they trade Salazar for 3rd baseman Kris Bryant? or what about trading the up-and-coming Cody Anderson? or perhaps Josh Tomlin? and even one of those may not be enough to get someone really good. the Tribe would also have to part with a prospect i'm sure. would they give up Naquin? or Bradley Zimmer? or Clint Frazier? i do not have these answers! lol
the most popular trade name i hear from fans is Carlos Santana. is it time to let him go? yeah, it would be strange to get rid of the team leader in home runs and a guy who's driven in 74 runs or more in each of his last 5 seasons with the Indians. but there is a legitimate argument for trading him. he's only going to get more expensive and he's not getting any younger. his fielding skills have deteriorated, no matter what position he's playing nowadays it seems. he tries to pull the ball a lot, resulting in big whiffs. yet he's got a good eye because he's always one of the league leaders in walks. but he's frustrating to say the least. if we could get someone that the Indians believe is better for a package deal that includes Santana, they would have to consider it. although with Brantley out for a bit and Santana gone, that's a very large offensive hole in the lineup, so they'd have to be certain about the incoming bat on that deal. maybe now is not the right time.
another possibility is Lonnie Chisenhall. his recently discovered capabilities in right field may finally spark some genuine interest in him from other teams. but we'd need to get an OF back in return in that deal because we are bare enough in that department as it is.
even though he's only been here for the final 2 months of 2015, Chris Johnson might be a trading chip this offseason as well.
and then there's always the option to use some of our lower level prospects and Columbus Clippers in a deal. if the Tribe wants to keep Aviles, they could try to use Jose Ramirez in a trade. or infielders Erik Gonzalez and Ronny Rodriguez.
at this time last year i knew we weren't going to be very active during the offseason because we had a lot of core guys signed to long-term contracts who were virtually untouchable. and it's the same now, even more so because we signed Kluber and Carrasco to extensions at the onset of 2015. once again, we don't have many major league players left to use as trade bait who would be attractive to other teams. after looking through my ideas, i'm completely flabbergasted as to how we're going to improve this team with some outside help to fill all the needs that we have at the moment. good luck to you, Chris Antonetti.
while i can say with confidence that we are not going to be major players in the free agent market, i do think it's possible to find a few cheapies in the bunch. so now i'm going to list some free agents on the market who i think we could realistically sign. it's probably a safe bet that we won't try and go after anyone who's already been given a qualifying offer, because then we would lose our 1st round draft pick, so i won't pick players who've already rejected QOs from their current team. and also, don't even look for Alex Gordon, Justin Upton, or Yoenis Cespedes's names in here. you should know better lol
--Chad Billingsley. i suggested him for the Indians last offseason because i knew he'd be inexpensive since he was then recovering from Tommy John surgery. he didn't pitch much in 2015 and would be affordable by Tribe standards. but i think we could do better.
--Chris Capuano. he could be a realistic option to come to Cleveland on a 1-year deal, if the Yankees have no interest in re-signing him.
--Aaron Harang. he might be a cheap option for a year. however, after the Indians brought him to spring in 2014, then decided they didn't want him as a starter and so he requested a release, it's doubtful that either party will go down that road again.
--Colby Lewis. he's starting to get up there in age, but he still has some stuff left in his arm. if he decides to leave Texas, he would be a nice addition to our rotation.
--Justin Masterson. i'm gonna go out on a limb here and propose Masterson. hey, we know him, we know he can pitch Nasty when he's healthy, and he's familiar with Cleveland and Terry Francona. but, he is coming off right shoulder surgery, and while you might think that should help him pitch better, he may not be ready to take on a role as a full-time/reliable starter for us. so this is probably a long shot.
--Ryan Vogelsong. would he be interested in coming over to the American League? because he would look good in our rotation. should be easy on the payroll, too.
--Chris Young. he pitched for the enemy last season, the World Series champs Royals, but the Indians should definitely look into him. he'll be 37 but he'll also be what i call contract-friendly lol
FA left-handed relievers:
--Craig Breslow*. he will most likely cost around the 2 million dollar mark. (*i recently read he is being marketed as a starter now, so he may not be an option here.)
--Neal Cotts. he's a free agent but he made $3 million last season and could be out of the Tribe's preferred price range.
--Brian Duensing. we've seen him pitch against the Indians for years with the Twins. he's now on the market but he's still only 32 and may want a multi-year deal that we aren't willing to give him.
--Tom Gorzelanny. he won't be very expensive but does he wish to remain a Tiger next season?
--Franklin Morales. i suggested him last offseason, but as a starter. these days, i think he's strictly pitching out of the bullpen. however, with Scott Boras as his agent, there's no telling how difficult getting a deal done with him might be.
--Manny Parra. he made $3.5 million in 2015 but that salary shouldn't be increasing with him turning 33 next season. he's probably still an unlikely candidate for us though.
--Joe Thatcher. this past season was the first time he'd pitched in the AL during his 8-year career so far. and considering how well the Astros did, odds are he's going to want to re-sign with them for 2016, which sucks because i think he would have been within our budget restraints.
--Carlos Corporan. we're going to need to sign at least one catcher during the spring and stash him down in Columbus. Corporan would most certainly be in the Indians price range, but would he be happy with probably playing the majority of the year in Triple A? this is an issue we're going to run into with all potential catchers.
--Geovany Soto. he's another catcher we might be able to afford but i can't see him signing with us. it sure would be strange having two Gio Sotos in the farm system though lol
FA 1st basemen:
--Corey Hart. he played a very limited role with the Pirates in 2015. but he can play 1st and right and would be an economical right-handed bat. he's only played 1 year out of 10 in the AL, however.
--Sean Rodriguez. another righty who plays 1st, 2nd, left, and right field. he even played some short and 3rd last season as well. he's never really been a big impact guy on a team, so he would be a last resort imo.
--Steve Pearce. this right-handed hitter plays 1st,
2nd, left, and right field. and he wouldn't break the Tribe's bank. he
didn't have a good season last year, but had a great 2014.
FA 3rd basemen:
--David Freese. strictly a 3rd baseman and not necessarily the best hitter in the world, this righty could be a decent platoon player with Urshela.
--Maicer Izturis. a switch-hitter who also
doesn't hit for power, he can additionally play 2nd and short. he'll be
turning 35 in 2016 so the price will be right, but he may not be (for
--Kelly Johnson. he can actually play 1st, 2nd,
3rd, and left field, and at age 33, he shouldn't be getting more than $3
million next year. he would fulfill a plethora of needs. the only issue
is he's another left-handed hitter. still, i say let's get those phone
--Casey McGehee. he had a rough season last year and did not earn his $4.8 million. be that as it may, he did very well in 2014 driving in 76 runs. he can also play 1st base, too, but doesn't hit for power anymore at this stage of his career. beggars can't be choosers, so this right-handed bat might be worth looking into.
--Rajai Davis. plays all 3 OF positions and bats right-handed. he made $5 million with the Tigers in 2014 and again in 2015. he can steal bases, but doesn't seem to do much else. he may be first alphabetically, but he's not my 1st choice.
--Austin Jackson. primarily a center fielder who can play left or right as needed. doesn't have a lot of power but is a right-handed bat. with Boras as his agent, it will be tough to get this 28 year old to come to Cleveland.
--Shane Robinson. very affordable 4th or 5th type OF who bats righty and can play anywhere. but, to be blunt, he simply doesn't have good major league numbers. please don't let this guy be our answer lol (EDIT: the Indians JUST signed him to a minor league deal with spring training invite yesterday on November 19 before this blog was complete. okay, cool, but that doesn't mean our OF problems have been solved...)
--Denard Span. a left-handed center fielder. not much power and not much chance we could offer him an attractive enough contract to come here anyways, even at age 31, and especially with his agent, Mr. Dollar Signs Boras.
--Chris Denorfia. not really sure why i'm including him on my list. he can play all the positions of the outfield, and he'll be reasonably priced, but he's definitely not an impact bat. sounds like the criteria for most spring training invites though lol
--Justin Maxwell. right-handed hitter who can play anywhere in the outfield and would be a bargain. he's never had more than a part-time role in his career, so he'd probably be okay with platooning.
--Shane Victorino. he refused to take the deal Cleveland offered him back in the offseason before 2013. now i'm not sure either side would be interested in negotiating. he mainly plays right and left field and bats right-handed, but hasn't played much or well since 2013.
--Delmon Young. low-cost righty. more of a right fielder but can also play left. he was released in July by the Orioles and doesn't hit for power. pass lol
--Nori Aoki. doesn't hit homers but can get on base. also plays right field. averages a BA in the .280s but is a left-handed hitter. the Giants recently bought him out so he's a FA that we could have the means for.
--Chris Denorfia. see above.
--Jonny Gomes. i had this corner outfielder on my FA list last offseason. he's getting up in age and his numbers are trending down. but after having just won a World Series with the Royals, he might opt to stay with them next season.
--Kelly Johnson. see above.
--Matt Joyce. he's a left-handed hitter but his power fell off the last 2 seasons, so he could be a steal. he can play some right field also. maybe the infamous "change of scenery" adage would take effect with him.
--Justin Maxwell. see above.
--Steve Pearce. see above.
--Delmon Young. see above.
so yeah, it's slim pickings here. while these players are in no way the biggest stars in
baseball, one or two might be a fit for the Tribe. then again, they
could possibly receive more money and longer contracts from other teams, which would take us right out of the running. but those are just some of my ideas. if you think we could acquire someone else/better, leave me a comment with your ideas and suggestions.
before i wrap this up, let me take a second to discuss the future of our coaching staff. first things first. the Indians signed 1st base coach, Sandy Alomar, Jr., to a 2-year deal, with an option for a 3rd year. whereas that sounds like great news on the surface, that contract does not keep Alomar from interviewing with other teams for a managerial position. he's interviewed with many clubs in the last few offseasons for a job as manager, but was never selected. as of right now, his name has not been mentioned for any of the current manager openings. it's gonna happen some day, and, while it will be a well-deserved honor for Sandy, that will be a sad day for Tribe fans.
as for everyone else, it doesn't sound like any changes are forthcoming. expect bench coach Brad Mills, 3rd base coach Mike Sarbaugh, pitching coach Mickey Callaway, bullpen coach Jason Bere, hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo, and Ty's assistant Matt Quatraro to all return next season.
and of course our manager Terry Francona will continue to lead the Tribe, hopefully above mediocrity, for the next 3 years minimum. and though he will never come right out and say it, i can deduce, in no uncertain terms, that he is not pleased with the performance of his team in his first 3 seasons here. it's abundantly well-known that he has a voice when it comes to acquiring new players. instead of getting his old band back together, like he's been doing over the past 3 seasons, he needs to talk to Chris Antonetti about bringing in some actual talented guys, not the ones on the last legs of their careers that he managed in their primes back in the day with Boston. players constantly speak high praise of playing under Tito's expertise, so let's get some different guys on the roster to experience that and help us. otherwise, everything positive that we've currently got is gonna go to waste.
we have such a great core of guys, many of whom are gonna be here for the next 3-5 seasons. we've got fantastic starting pitching and some magnificent hitters. how much longer can we wait before utilizing this talent? we only need a few more pieces, and if i was Francona, i would push the front office as much as possible to go out and get those pieces. because before you know it, our core is going to be older and want to hit the free agent market, especially if we haven't made the playoffs or won a championship while they were here "stuck" under contract.
dissecting the lineup, when you look at 1-3, Kipnis, Lindor, and Brantley, that's a very solid group. (or, it will be once Brantley returns.) we saw Kip's potential come to life last season, Lindor should have been rookie of the year, and Brantley is one of the best hitters in the league. then there's Gomes. assuming he bounces back and performs more like his 2014 Silver Slugger self, that's another reliable hitter in the lineup. as for Urshela, starting the season not only in Cleveland, but also with a clean bill of health will be highly beneficial to him. and as long as Chisenhall remains a productive batter against righties in a platoon role, that's another good bat in our order. even Santana has his big moments. really, at this point we have at least 6 spots of prospective greatness, and maybe more depending on who else joins the team this offseason.
then there's the rotation. we have starting pitching that opposing teams dread. previous Cy Young winner Kluber is a strike throwing machine and Carrasco's quickly emulating Kluber's ways. Salazar finally became the pitcher that everyone thought he would be. Tomlin, when healthy, can throw gems. Anderson looks like he could be a force in the majors after a little more seasoning. you never know what you're gonna get with Bauer, but he's also shown he's got the stuff. so again, this is another part of the team that you can be very upbeat about.
in regards to the bullpen, we've found a dynamite closer in Allen. Shaw always seems to do well as a late inning set-up man no matter how many innings a year he pitches. Manship was incredible last season. McAllister showed he's much better in the bullpen as a long-man than a starter, which worked out great. and Armstrong had one hell of a major league debut. we're gonna need to bring in a lefty or two but apart from that, this is a strong area for the Tribe also.
put all this together and it's quite easy to see why we are not to be taken lightly. there's a lot to be positive about. from this point forward, we need to get ourselves back into the playoffs and put up a tough fight. we need to take advantage of the nucleus that's taken years to assemble and we have to do it now. we've got the talent, let's make it happen.
this offseason, it's up to the front office to go out and get the missing pieces. we CANNOT just settle for help internally and hope that some of those Triple A guys pan out. moves need to be made, risks need to be taken. because everyone wants to win. the team, the manager, the fans, they all want the Indians to win. and i think it's about damn time that they do.
136 days until Opening Day as of this blog post. Go Tribe 2016! =D