Now that the World Series has ended, the Hot Stove season has started for major league baseball teams, and initially there are a lot of procedural things that must be done.
The first is making decisions on the contract options for many players. The Indians historically don’t offer many (if any) player options, they like to be the one making the decisions on an extra year for a player in question.
Both decisions made yesterday by the front office were no brainers, in our opinion.
The Tribe picked up the option on Carlos Carrasco, one of the best starting pitchers in the sport. Carrasco has won 35 games over the past two seasons, striking out at least 200 hitters in each year.
They passed on outfielder Brandon Guyer, saving $2.75 million. Guyer is a platoon player who feasted on left-handed pitching when he came over from Tampa in 2016, but in the subsequent years, he’s had injury issues and his production, while still good, isn’t at an elite level versus southpaws anymore.
Next on the agenda are making qualifying offers to the prospective free agents. We are sure such a deal will be offered to Michael Brantley, but the real questions would be Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.
If you make the offer, you have to be prepared the player will accept, and that’s why we would extend the deal to Miller only. If he’s healthy, which he hasn’t been since the middle of last season, he’s still a dominant reliever.
Allen has declined in performance in 2018, perhaps due to the wear and tear of making a lot of appearance over his seven years in Cleveland. It’s a tough decision and a tough business because Cody Allen has been a loyal player, willing to do whatever Terry Francona wanted him to do.
To improve the roster for the 2019 season, the Indians will need to gain some financial relief, meaning it would behoove the front office to look at highly paid players, who aren’t producing to the level of their contracts.
The chief players to look at here are Edwin Encarnacion, Jason Kipnis, and Yonder Alonso. It is doubtful Encarnacion can be moved, because being a DH limits him to American League teams.
The other two would be in play, but there is no question in our mind that Cleveland would have to eat some money to make any deal happen.
Moving both would lop about $22 million off the team’s projected salaries, minus whatever the team would have to pay to make it work.
Although they will be the favorites to win the AL Central for the 4th consecutive season, it would be hard to take them seriously as a World Series contender with an outfield of Kipnis in LF, Tyler Naquin in RF, and a platoon of Leonys Martin and Greg Allen in CF.
There is also the matter of rebuilding the bullpen, which with Miller and Allen’s likely departure has just Brad Hand as a proven, reliable option.
It appears the organization has high hopes for Jon Edwards, but it would be nice to have another proven arm in the ‘pen going into spring training. The cost for relief help would seem to be less than that of a solid big league hitter.
In a few days, we will know who is available in the free agent market and can examine some possible low cost options who could help.
The Indians have the stars, now they need to surround them with better secondary players.