Twas the night after Christmas,
And all through The Land
Not a Clevelander was stirring,
Not even Jerry Sands
With the caps and bats still tucked away
They’ll soon be brought out, for baseball is not far away.
With Kipnis and Lindor, all anxious and waiting,
Dreaming of double plays, that they’ll soon be making.
With Brantley still injured, and Davis now here.
The Tribe was still missing, that big bat we hold dear.
What will the Tribe do, with such short offseason left?
Trade Salazar maybe, or grab Ozuna you ask?
With much left to do, there’s a lot on their plates.
One things for sure: it’s baseball season soon, and we cannot wait.
We’ve done it gang, we’ve made it this far. Only 100 days left until baseball is finally back!
A lot has happened in the world of baseball since the end of the 2015 season. Big contracts have been handed out. Players have gone from one team to the other. Zack Greinke decided he’d rather live in the desert than live in California. There’s been thrills, emotional disappointments, or for the Indians we can describe it all in one word:
There hasn’t been a whole lot of traction thus far with the Indians offseason. It started off on one of the worst notes possible when we all found out that All Star Michael Brantley is going to miss at least the first month of the season, if not more. That’s a huge blow for a team that’s trying to acquire more offense going into 2016. Losing arguably your best bat in the lineup hurts a ton. What’s even worse though is that the Indians haven’t exactly found a true replacement for Brantley.
Not that the Indians need a “Brantley Replacement”, but their outfield in total doesn’t exactly scream excitement. At the start of the winter, the outfield consisted of Brantley, Abraham Almonte, and Lonnie Chisenhall. Since the Brantley injury, the Indians have acquired Collin Cowgill, Joey Butler, Shane Robinson and recently signed Rajai Davis. Out of all those names listed, the only guys that may be a fit for the opening day roster are Cowgill and obviously Davis.
Davis was signed to a one year, $5.25 million contract plus incentives. He has the ability to play all three outfield positions sufficiently, but at the age of 35 he is far from being an everyday player. He’s coming off a fairly down year for him in the speed department, and for a guy who has built his career on speed, that’s not a good sign. He has decent pop and from the right side of the plate, which is nice. He’s a fine stopgap for Brantley while he’s gone, but the Indians still need to bring in another potent bat to really stimulate this offense.
The Indians also signed 1B/DH Mike Napoli to a one year, $7 million deal plus some incentives. He’s projected to be the everyday first baseman, which will be huge for the defense as the incumbent Carlos Santana has not really proven himself to be a sufficient first basemen, or third basemen…or catcher. Napoli ended his season last year with 18 home runs, which would have put him second on the team in the power department. He bats from the right side, and it goes to show that the Indians have been targeting right handed bats this winter. Bringing more balance to this lineup is huge for the front office right now.
Where do the Indians go from here though?
They’ve been getting plenty of calls on their young, controllable starters like Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. Names like Yasiel Puig, Corey Seager, Javier Baez and Jorge Soler have all been thrown around in trade talks, but nothing substantial has been worked out. The front office holds their starters to a high regard and will not back down on their value for them, nor should they. The Arizona Diamondbacks had to pay a king’s ransom to get Shelby Miller from the Atlanta Braves, and he’s not as high end of a pitcher as either Carrasco or Salazar. The only problem is that not every team is willing to pay that much, and the Indians would like to get major league talent back in return instead of prospects. This is where it gets tricky.
The Indians could also go the route of possibly trading their prospects for major league ready talent.
The Braves and Cincinnati Reds are two teams that are in somewhat of rebuild mode, and they could be targeted in trade talks still. The Indians almost acquired Todd Frazier from the Reds before the Chicago White Sox swooped from underneath us to steal him away. Not like the deal the Reds offered the Indians was fair, but I digress.
Another interesting team that the Indians may be able to lineup with is the Colorado Rockies. They’ve been very open about trading one of their outfielders in Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, and Corey Dickerson. While Gonzalez has a ton of money left on his contract, the Rockies are desperate for another pitcher for their rotation. As Coors Field is a park dangerous for fly ball pitching, Cody Anderson would be a perfect fit in that stadium. As he’s a huge groundball pitcher, there’s a possibility that the Indians and Rockies could line up with Anderson being the starting point of the conversation.
Needless to say, there is still a lot of work the Indians need to do before they pack up the truck for Spring Training in February, and there will be changes to this team before that day. The window of opportunity for the Tribe is now, and the front office is aware. With only 100 days left, I believe this team will be much improved within that time frame.
It’s upon us everyone. Eat, drink, and be merry.
Photo: Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports