The Indians are wheeling and dealing all over the place, signing free agent center fielder Kenny Lofton to a three-year deal and Dwight Gooden to a two-year tender. They also trade expendable center fielder Marquis Grissom, originally acquired for Lofton prior to the 1997 season, and pitcher Jeff Juden to Milwaukee for pitchers Ben McDonald, Ron Villone, and Mike Fetters. Not finished, they swap Fetters to Oakland for Steve Karsay.
It marks a reunion for the Indians with Lofton, who inks a $24 million pact. Gooden signs for $5.675 million. McDonald will never suit up for the Indians or professionally again due to injuries, while Karsay is converted into a reliable reliever and eventually a closer. The lefty Villone will join his fourth MLB team in four years and spends just a season in Cleveland before bouncing around the league for 15 years with 12 teams, totaling no more than three years in any one city.