Antonetti talks Tribe's needs ahead of Deadline
Indians 'aggressive in looking for ways to improve the team,' with bullpen top priority
CLEVELAND -- When the Nationals acquired closer Kelvin Herrera from the Royals earlier this week, Washington reeled in the kind of impact arm the Indians could use to stabilize their bullpen.
Given how much sense Herrera made for Cleveland, know that the Indians inquired about his availability with Kansas City. Over the next six weeks leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Tribe's decision-makers plan on leaving no stones unturned in their search for reinforcements for the stretch run to October.
"I won't get into specific guys," Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president of baseball operations, said when asked about Herrera on Wednesday morning. "But I think it's safe to say that we've been aggressive in looking for ways to improve the team. And, if there are guys that are out there that might be available, we're exploring it."
Antonetti noted that the Indians could benefit from more consistency in center and right field, but the bullpen remains the main area of need for the American League Central leaders. After a disastrous May (8.01 ERA) for the relief corps, things have been better in June (3.35 ERA, entering Wednesday), but the recent strides have not calmed Cleveland's search for potential help.
Entering Wednesday, the Tribe bullpen ranked 28th in MLB in ERA (5.47) and 29th in Fielding Independent Pitching (4.70).
With Andrew Miller, Cody Allen and Zach McAllister among the potential free-agents for the Indians next offseason, Cleveland will cast a wide net for controllable options and rentals. Antonetti cited the 2016 Trade Deadline, when the club acquired Miller and outfielder Brandon Guyer, who both came with multiple years of control, as an example.
"We try to take a multi-year approach," Antonetti said. "It was evident in our trades in 2016. We targeted players that could have an impact beyond just that season. Now, sometimes those players aren't available and you can't align on value and you end up trading for guys like we did last year with Joe Smith or getting Jay Bruce late. That's just the opportunity that was available to us. We'll explore both."
And the Indians have started to ramp up that process.
"In the years in which we're in contention, I think that's been the way we've operated," Antonetti said. "And that's how we've continued to operate this year. Really, since the day after the Draft, the intensity and frequency of trade conversations have picked up and we're actively seeking ways where we can improve the team."
• There remains no clear timetable for return for Miller (10-day disabled list, right knee), but he will continue to work through bullpen sessions leading up to game activity. Antonetti noted Wednesday that Miller will take part in a Minor League rehab assignment before rejoining the Indians.
• Heading into Wednesday's game, Cleveland's rotation ranked second in the Majors with an average of 99 pitches per game. Only the Astros (100.1) ranked higher. Said Antonetti: "Our guys condition to do that. So, they're in a good spot, but it's something we'll continue to be mindful of as we go through the season."
• Antonetti noted that Carlos Carrasco (10-day DL) is doing well, but said the pitcher still needs to get some of the swelling down in his right elbow before resuming a throwing program. Carrasco was hit on the arm by a line drive on Saturday against the Twins.
• Outfielder Bradley Zimmer (Minor League DL, right shoulder) underwent an MRI exam on Wednesday morning to gather more information about the nature of his injury. Antonetti said the team is still awaiting the results of the tests.
• Outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall was scratched from Wednesday's lineup with bilateral calf soreness, per the Indians.