Edited to reflect Jonathan Lucroy voiding the deal to Cleveland
After the Cavaliers broke the drought for titles in Cleveland, we joked about how there is a new world order for sports.
That was never more evident than the past 12 hours when the Indians, yes, the Cleveland Indians, looked at the landscape around baseball, looked at their roster, and said we are going to try to go to the World Series and win it for the first time since 1948.
President Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff traded from their now deep farm system, and received the probably the best position player available and also the best relief pitcher on the market in catcher Jonathan Lucroy and southpaw Andrew Miller.
We have been harping about the Cleveland bullpen since the beginning of the season, and Miller, because he is signed through 2018, was the best bullpen arm on the market.
Since Miller became a reliever with the Red Sox in 2012, his highest ERA has been 3.35, and in his year and a half as a Yankee, he has struck out 177 batters in 107 innings pitched.
And he saved 36 games for New York a year ago.
Terry Francona should have no more worries when guys like David Ortiz, Eric Hosmer, etc. come to the plate in a late game situation any more. He has the best lefty bullpen arm in the game at his disposal.
Our guess is Tito will use Miller and Cody Allen as “co-closers”, meaning if there are tough lefty matchups in the 8th, Miller will pitch, and if there are tough right-handed hitters, Allen will go first.
That will move Bryan Shaw to the 7th, which puts less of a burden on one of the best starting rotations in the game.
And in the post-season, it could be invaluable as we’ve seen with the Royals the past two seasons.
There is no question the Indians gave up a lot of promising young players, but every single one of them hasn’t done a thing at the big league level.
And the Tribe dealt from strength. Clint Frazier is the player we wanted to part with least, but we figured either him or Brad Zimmer would have to go for Lucroy.
Justus Sheffield is a prime arm, but the Tribe didn’t give up Mike Clevinger, and still has Adam Plutko and Cody Anderson to help the rotation if need be.
Cleveland has a plethora of bullpen arms in the minors too.
Even though the deal with Milwaukee fell through, it shows the front office realizes the catching spot is a source of concern, and they are willing to do something about it.
They also understand the need for another quality bat to lengthen the lineup and compete with the Bostons, Torontos, Texas, and Detroits of the league.
Our guess is that Antonetti and Chernoff address both spots before 4 PM Monday afternoon.
The Indians want to get back to the World Series for the first time in 19 seasons. They are probably the favorite right now to do just that.