Inbox: Why wasn't Tribe able to trade Kluber?

Beat reporter Mandy Bell answers questions from fans

February 7th, 2019

CLEVELAND -- After a long wait, the beginning of the 2019 baseball season is finally in sight. With the Indians' pitchers and catchers reporting to Goodyear, Ariz., on Tuesday, it's time for one last Inbox of the offseason.

Concerned? Absolutely not. The Indians have been clear that their goal was never to trade away or . However, given their talent level and the impressive seasons they had last year, it was inevitable that teams would be calling to express interest in the hurlers, and listening to those offers is a must. We've heard the rumors all offseason, but the team obviously has a specific return in mind when discussing potential trade options and it's clear that no offer has been able to match what the Tribe is looking for.

Yes, trading someone like Kluber would give the Indians a chance to acquire some quality outfielders and/or prospects, but, again, it's finding the exact group of talent that will make the club willing to give up a two-time American League Cy Young Award winner. So it's not that Cleveland can't trade him, it's more that any offer it has received so far hasn't checked off all the team's boxes. The Indians have a rotation that's projected to be one of the best in baseball. Their starting staff has led MLB in WAR the past two seasons and, as of now, they are returning each of their top five starters from last year. The ace of that rotation is not necessarily someone you want to give up unless you are getting enough in return to replace that loss.
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The odds are very, very low. Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti recently said that the focus is now mostly on non-roster players rather than Major League regulars when it comes to the free-agent market. The team's 2019 payroll is already estimated to be around $120 million, so it is extremely unlikely that Cleveland would take on a contract.

I would agree that , , , and will likely be in the Tribe's bullpen this year, given that they all have healthy springs. will be easing his way into Spring Training and will need to play each day by ear to see when he'll be game ready. is expected to be unrestricted at the start of camp, so he will definitely be a contender as well.
It will be interesting to watch each of the pitchers you listed compete for a roster spot over the next six weeks. However, and both pop out as intriguing guys to keep an eye on. These two new faces to the organization have both posted decent numbers in their careers. Hu, 25, has logged a 3.15 ERA in 126 Minor League appearances and has pitched in 11 Major League games in his career, allowing nine earned runs in 23 innings (3.52 ERA). He's spent the majority of his time in the Rays' farm system as a starting pitcher, but all of his big league appearances were in relief. Wittgren, 27, had a solid year for the Marlins in 2018, pitching to a 2.94 ERA in his 32 appearances (33 2/3 innings). He has 118 Major League games under his belt over the last three seasons, which may also work in his favor.

will see time at both positions throughout the spring. The offseason plan was having a blend of and Bauers at first base throughout the year. However, the Indians obviously wouldn't speculate who would win that job prior to camp. With the current roster, a likely scenario is having Bauers at first base and Santana at designated hitter, with either or in left. In that case, Bauers would spend a good bit of time at first.

Antonetti said that still has a shot at impacting the Major League club after Cleveland acquired from the Mets last month, but there's no hiding from the fact that it will now be more difficult for him to secure a roster spot. Prior to the Plawecki trade, it was assumed that and Haase would take over the catching duties after was dealt to the Nationals, but now the Indians' No. 27 prospect will have to really fight for a spot in Spring Training. The starting position is still up for grabs, but it wouldn't be surprising if Perez and Plawecki are the two backstops to break camp with the Tribe.

Despite how great their springs may be, both and will likely not make the Major League roster out of camp, giving them a little more time at Triple-A Columbus to work out their final kinks before they make their big league debuts.

Well, I'm a newbie to the beat, so I haven't been able to travel to different parks just yet, but I did try to get to all 30 while I was still in school. I was able to get 25 crossed off, leaving Seattle, Oakland, Los Angeles (Dodgers), Arizona and Texas as my final ballparks to get to. Oracle Park on the water in San Francisco is beautiful. Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are obviously must-sees just for historic reasons. PNC Park has one of the best backdrops in baseball with the Pittsburgh city skyline behind the stadium. But I think the one that stood out to me the most that I wasn't necessarily expecting was Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The Arch in the distance behind the stadium is a neat touch and the food was really good. What more could you ask for?