The Cleveland Indians have done very well recently. In the last two seasons, they made it to the World Series before losing in game seven, and won the second most games in franchise history.
In the latter season, they had a 22 game winning streak.
Since Terry Francona came aboard as manager, the Tribe has reeled off five consecutive winning seasons, and qualified for the post-season three times.
Yet, all people talk about is the team’s “window”. How long will this run of good play last? That’s what we do in northeast Ohio, if we have good fortune, we wonder when it will disappear.
Some people feel the window is closing after this season, since the dynamic bullpen duo of Cody Allen and Andrew Miller will likely not be back with the Tribe in 2019 due to free agency.
Others point to the 2020 season as the last season of contention because Carlos Carrasco can leave via free agency, and the following year, the Indians could lose Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Danny Salazar.
We think the window is open through the 2021 campaign, meaning there are four more seasons of contention. Why 2021? That is when Francisco Lindor would be eligible to cash in via free agency.
We still hope the front office will pony up and keep Lindor in Cleveland, because, as we have said many times before, if the shortstop could play ten years in a Tribe uniform, he would be considered the greatest position player in franchise history.
The Indians have been very good as piecing together a good bullpen, so although Allen and Miller are among the game’s premier relievers, we have faith in the front office to fortify the bullpen before the beginning of next season.
Losing Carrasco would hurt, but in ’21, Cleveland will still have Kluber, Bauer, and Salazar, as well as Mike Clevinger, which would be a solid rotation for any team, assuming they all stay healthy.
Losing Lindor would be a crippling blow considering all he means to the franchise. Although he’s played just two plus seasons, he is the team’s leader, and the along with Francona and Kluber, the faces of the franchise.
It was curious to see how much the roster has changed since the wild card team of 2013. The only regulars still in prominent roles with the Tribe are Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Yan Gomes.
Corey Kluber, who was 11-5 in less than 150 innings, and Cody Allen were the only pitchers currently on the team who had an important role, although Salazar was called up late and started the post-season contest.
The point is the window can be extended if the farm system can continue to produce everyday players.
Since ’13, Lindor and Jose Ramirez have arrived and both are among the best players in the sport, and Yandy Diaz could make an impact as soon as this year.
Bradley Zimmer could join Lindor and Ramirez as big time players, and Francisco Mejia has the potential to be an elite hitter in the major leagues.
Mejia just joined the organization in 2013, hitting .305 in the Arizona Rookie League. Zimmer wasn’t even drafted until the following year.
The point is this team is very talented, and continues to produce solid players who will be under club control for several more years.
Enjoy this season, but it is not the end of the road for the organization. There still a few years left of contention to reach the playoffs.