Over the weekend, the Cleveland Indians made some news off the field.
They announced that they signed 2014 Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber to a five-year contract with two more season at the Tribe’s option, meaning Kluber could remain in a Cleveland uniform for seven more years.
Later that day, they inked Carlos Carrasco to a four-year deal, an additional three years following this season, totaling a reported $22 million.
Although we advised the team to be careful with the Kluber extension, it’s a good deal for the team because it was done at reasonable dollars and at no time does the contract become untradeable, meaning if either pitcher’s performance drops or they are deemed replaceable, the Tribe isn’t stuck with the player.
As a comparison, there is no way GM Chris Antonetti could move either Nick Swisher or Michael Bourn right now.
No naturally, social media was filled with the usual suspects praising the Tribe ownership and denouncing people who call the Dolan family cheap.
There comments were “see, the Dolans do spend money!”
Really? This is the low bar we set for the Indians organization?
The front office simply did what most major league teams do, that is, they kept young players who are productive and bought some years of arbitration and a year or two of free agency.
Other teams do that all the time.
Look, this really isn’t a hammering of the Dolans, although we have been critical in the past. However, praising them for locking up a player who couldn’t leave for several years (in the case of Kluber) isn’t exactly an earth-shaking decision.
And they did it at money that will likely keep the club’s payroll at the organization’s comfort level. It was really a no-brainer decision for the team. Should they be praised for that?
Besides, our problem with the Indians’ ownership and front office is their willingness, or rather, their unwillingness to go the extra mile.
With their club in contention for a playoff spot in each of the last two years, the biggest acquisition they made was trading for left-handed relief pitcher Mark Rzepczynski.
Last year, they actually traded away two veteran players in Asdrubal Cabrera and Justin Masterson getting prospects in return. Basically, they subtracted instead of added to the roster.
In 2011, Antonetti did make a big move, trading for Ubaldo Jimenez for at the time, two top pitching prospects. The move didn’t work that year, although Jimenez was a big factor in claiming a wild card spot in ’13.
We have said this before, franchises have to take a shot at making the playoffs when they get the opportunity, particularly in baseball, because once you get there, you have as good a shot as any other team.
Look at the Royals a year ago. They made the playoffs in the wild card game and advanced all the way to the seventh game of the World Series.
If the Indians have a chance when the trading deadline comes this July, and they add to the roster for the last two months, then the ownership should get credit and will get credit here.
Until then, let’s not go overboard praising the Indians for signing good players that they developed. That’s something they should be doing all the time.