Indians leave Meetings with payroll flexibility

December 13th, 2018

LAS VEGAS -- The Indians came to Las Vegas and successfully executed the same plan that many commoners share, but fail to execute, upon arrival to Sin City: obtain more money.
Thursday morning, Cleveland completed a three-team trade that sent to Seattle for former Indians slugger and cash considerations and shipped and Cole Suler to Tampa Bay in exchange for .
Encarnacion will make over $21 million in 2019 (the largest contract on the Indians' '19 payroll), while Santana is owed $17 million. Although it's not the greatest amount of savings, the cash considerations involved will add a little more breathing room to address the team's other needs.

"It certainly helps," Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. "It just helps our near-term position and gives us more flexibility as we seek to build our team for 2019. Exactly what that means or what we'll do, we'll have to see."
Although the trade provided some flexibility to the Indians' roster, it doesn't necessarily fill all the holes the team has prior to Opening Day. Having cleared some space on the payroll by eliminating ' $7 million contract in a trade with the Nationals, Cleveland has made space to potentially add some depth to the roster in the near future.
"A lot of things we were thinking about [can be accomplished through] interrelated transactions," Antonetti said on Tuesday. "It would lead us to have different segments of the roster, which if all of the pieces don't come together it doesn't align well so each deal is kind of dependent upon the other one."

Biggest remaining needs

  1. OF: After losing key outfielders , and to free agency, the Indians are left with some inexperience and lack of depth beyond the infield, relying on , who is bouncing back from a severe bacterial disease in August, and in right. Picking up Bauers in Thursday's trade will give the Indians another option, however the cliche "the more the merrier" would definitely benefit the Tribe.

2. Relievers: Just like its impact on the outfield, free agency also impacted the Indians' bullpen. The Tribe returns closer Brad Hand, but after losing , and Josh Tomlin, Cleveland could use a couple of additions to bolster the back end.
Rule 5 Draft
The Indians did not make a selection in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, but did lose right-hander Kyle Dowdy from Triple-A Columbus when the Mets selected him in the first round. Dowdy was acquired from the Tigers organization, along with Leonys Martin, at the 2018 non-waiver Trade Deadline. In six starts for Double-A Akron, the 25-year-old went 1-4 with a 6.52 ERA and 1.66 WHIP. He was selected by Detroit in the 12th round of the 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Houston.
Cleveland lost two more right-handers and a first baseman in the Triple-A phase. In the first round, the Angels selected Matt Esparza, who was Cleveland's 14th-round pick in 2015. Esparza, 24, had a combined 6.23 ERA in 8 2/3 innings in Rookie League and with Class A Advanced Lynchburg. Hector Figueroa was taken by the Rays to conclude the draft. Figueroa, 24, pitched to a 2.78 ERA in 14 appearances last season. Finally, the Indians' 18th-round pick in the '15 Draft, Anthony Miller, was then selected by the A's. Miller, 24, slashed .264/.363/.432 with eight homers with Lynchburg.
Also in the Triple-A phase, the Tribe selected left-hander Yapson Gomez from the Cubs' organization and first baseman Wilson Garcia from the Orioles. Gomez, 25, has been in Chicago's organization since 2013. Last season, Gomez tossed a combined 68 2/3 innings in relief, cumulating in a 3.28 ERA with Class A South Bend and Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach. Garcia, 24, hit a combined .293 with 23 home runs and 76 RBIs with the Class A Advanced teams in the Phillies' and Orioles' organizations.
GM's bottom line
"We could configure the roster in a variety of different ways. But there's still a lot of offseason left. I'm not sure this will be the final roster that we have going into Spring Training." -- Antonetti