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Indians Approach To Free Agency Still Different Than Major Markets

| On 12, Nov 2011


The Indians will be active participants in this winter’s free agent market, but don’t be surprised when they aren’t the next team to jump into the water behind the Philadelphia Phillies. While the Phillies have already signed Jim Thome and Jonathan Papelbon, don’t expect the Indians to move so quickly.

While the Indians have money to spend this winter and are in serious pursuit of a first baseman and left field options, the organization is not going to pursue top free agents like Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder. Those signings would take more than the Indians have to budget, but also take more years on a contract than they would like to commit.

At best, the Indians will pursue second tier free agents like Michael Cuddyer, Aramis Ramirez or Carlos Pena, but probably only if their stock drops. It is unlikely that the Indians will invest a four year contract to any player, especially since the team has already identified their window as between now and 2013. If free agent hungry teams like the Phillies, Yankees or Red Sox don’t pursue these players, the Indians could be a short term remedy for one of these players.

If the Indians don’t cash in on a falling second tier player, look for the Tribe to explore not just Cuban defectors and Japanese free agents, but short term options like Casey Kotchman, Josh Willingham, Ryan Ludwick or Kosuke Fukudome to stimulate last season’s struggling offense.

Certainly new faces will be in the Indian lineup on Opening Day, but don’t expect a marquee name or a big splash into the free agent pool like the Phillies have already had. Slow and steady will probably be the plan to land the missing parts for a 2012 playoff run.

Photo: Jim Rogash/Getty Images

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