For each division, we will be doing an in-depth look at each team’s situations for the offseason and offer some insights to what would make sense.
On to the AL Central, where the Indians will try to overcome a loss of notable free agents and try to hold off the Twins and continue to beat down on the dumpster fires that are the Tigers, Royals, and White Sox rosters.
Top FA Targets:
- Kelvin Herrera, RP
The Indians would probably like to get a closer and put Hand into the “fireman” role Andrew Miller excelled in for them… However, they don’t have a lot of money to spend. Herrera seems to be the best, mid-tier closer option on the market and could be a good fit with his experience in the AL Central.
- Marwin Gonzalez, UTIL
Again, every team can use this guy. Indians could put him at 2B or 3B (whichever Ramirez doesn’t play) or they could stick him in LF to replace Brantley. Can’t go wrong here.
- Nick Markakis, RF
With Chisenhall and Brantley departing via free agency, “Kakes” could be a great fit for them. Fresh off another gold glove and a solid season overall, his experience would mesh well with this young team.
- Carson Smith, RP
Carson Smith, when healthy, is a very solid pen piece… however, he hasn’t been healthy in years. A low-cost/high-upside signing by whomever signs him.
- Jerry Blevins, RP
With Brad Hand on the roster as the only LHP in the bullpen, a low-cost LOOGY would make sense for the Tribe. Blevins is the definition of a LOOGY.
Top 3 Trade Possibilities:
- Indians trade 2B Jason Kipnis to the Rockies for RP Mike Dunn
The Indians need to trim payroll and Jason Kipnis is the most obvious fit. Set to make $14.6M in 2019 (with a $2.5M buyout in 2020), Kipnis is a hard contract to move. Luckily for them, Mike Dunn ($7M in 2019 w/ $1M 2020 buyout) was even worse. Dunn registered a -0.5 WAR in 2018 and the Rockies need a 2B to replace the departing LeMahieu. While Kipnis had a bad year, he was still worth 1.6 WAR. Maybe playing in COL could help those numbers and be worth taking on the extra money?
- Indians trade 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion to the Astros for RF Josh Reddick
In a trade similar to Braves/Dodgers last year, one team takes on more money in year one to clear money in year two. Reddick is set to make $13M/year for the next two years vs EE who is set to make $21.6M in 2019 w/ a $5M buyout in 2020. The numbers match up almost too perfectly. The Astros need to free up future payroll for their arbitration players and need to free up a spot for top prospect OF Kyle Tucker. The Indians need two corner outfielders and Reddick would replace Brantley’s bat nicely.
- Indians trade C Yan Gomes to the Brewers for OF Domingo Santana
The Brewers need a C and the Indians need corner OF… plus the Indians shave ~$5.5M off their 2019 payroll. Good deal for both sides.
- Indians trade SP Corey Kluber to the Padres for Top Prospect SP Mackenzie Gore, 2B Luis Urias, and 1B Josh Naylor
The price for Kluber? … the #2,4, and 15 prospects on the MLB’s best farm team. The Padres are DESPERATE for an ace and how serendipitous would it be for them to get back the man they drafted in 4th round of the 2007 MLB Draft? Also for this sexy storyline, the Indians get 1B Josh Naylor… older brother of the guy (Noah) they drafted 29th overall in 2018.