Inbox: Who's in Indians' outfield for 2019?

Beat reporter Mandy Bell fields offseason questions from fans

December 26th, 2018

How do you see the Indians' outfield panning out for next season?
-- @brownsfan623

If the season were to start now, Cleveland could have (acquired from the Pirates on Nov. 14) in left field, in center and in right. could then get in the mix in the corner-outfield spots from time to time.
Luplow, 25, had a limited Major League role for the Pirates the past two seasons, playing in 37 games in 2018 and 27 in '17. Last season, Luplow hit .185 with three home runs and seven RBIs in 92 at-bats. With Triple-A Indianapolis, Luplow slashed .287/.367/.462 with eight homers, 49 RBIs, 39 walks and 64 strikeouts in 88 games. He appeared in 16 games in left, three in center and three in right for Pittsburgh.
At the Winter Meetings, Indians manager Terry Francona said Martin was about 6 pounds from being back to the weight he was before a severe bacterial infection affected his vital organs in August. He was cleared on Nov. 20 to resume baseball activities, so he should be more than ready once the spring hits.
Francona also said Naquin feels "really good" as the 2019 season approaches despite last season's struggles and medical issues (right hip surgery).
"That's good, because that was hard for him what he had to go through," Francona said. "But he's in a really good place."
Indians president Chris Antonetti has said multiple times that the offseason is not over for Cleveland, so more moves should be coming. Whether the Indians make a splash in the free-agent market or complete another trade remains to be seen. The outfield will be fluid and many names could be thrown into the mix, including or even -- who could return at some point next year after having surgery on his right shoulder in July.
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Now, this is just a hunch, but I think might be a tad too pricey for the Indians to sign.

During the Winter Meetings, Antonetti said was progressing with his rehab in Arizona. He began throwing that same week for the first time and had gotten up to 90 feet. Both Antonetti and Francona said the right-hander's timetable is up to him. Because of that, it's hard for them to predict whether he will be in the bullpen or used as a starter. However, now that it seems as if the team will keep both and in the rotation, signs are pointing to Salazar being a reliever.
Like you said, there are a lack of arms in the bullpen after losing guys like Miller, and Josh Tomlin to free agency. Antonetti said the plan, at least as of the Winter Meetings, was to try to stretch Salazar out as a starter, then assess what the team's needs may be once he gets back to full strength (or close to it).
"That gives us the most flexibility," Antonetti said.

The most feasible solution is staying in-house and moving back to third base and having Kipnis (as long as he's on the roster) back at second. As of now, that will most likely be how the lineup shakes out.
If the Indians were to spend some money, it would probably be on the outfield or the bullpen. With Ramirez as an option at third, and both and with at least some experience to back up at the hot corner, the most likely option is for the Indians to focus on the bigger needs of the team.

Now with the Winter Meetings behind us and the Indians having cut payroll significantly, they are much more likely to have Kluber and Bauer in their rotation next season than they were at the beginning of the month.

Obviously, either of the two starters would get more talent in return than other moves the Indians could make this offseason, but keeping its greatest strength intact could definitely pay off in the end. As far as the negotiations between the Tribe and Dodgers, those details are unknown, however the Dodgers appear to still be strongly in the mix.