CLEVELAND – The Indians roster will look quite different in 2021 after Thursday’s trade that shipped Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to the Mets in exchange for Amed Rosario, Andrés Giménez and two of New York’s top-10 prospects. It was a move that left Tribe fans with a lot of questions. Let’s see if we can come up with some answers in this week’s Inbox:
Does this trade give the Indians enough money to sign a free agent outfielder?
Eliminating over $30 million for the Tribe’s 2021 payroll would certainly give the indication that the team would have the wiggle room to add at least one free agent outfielder, but with little idea of the front office’s plan, it’s hard to know for sure. The Indians have been clear that they’ve lost tens of millions of dollars due to the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but the team hasn’t been transparent about where its payroll needs to end up. Someone like Eddie Rosario seems like a perfect fit for the Tribe, but it’s difficult to know whether Cleveland would be able to afford someone who could sign a one-year, $7 or $8 million contract when it’s evident the club's main focus is slashing its payroll.
Maybe the team is trying to save money to be able to extend someone like Shane Bieber. Or maybe Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti has been given a firm number from ownership of what to keep the payroll under for next season and the club hasn’t shared that information. Antonetti said that the financial flexibility will allow them to reinvest money back into the roster, but we’ll have to wait to see if that will end up being the reality.
You think the Indians could get an outfielder like Michael Brantley? Or maybe bring back Cesar Hernandez?
Indians fans will continue to ask about Michael Brantley as long as they possibly can (and for good reason), but a reunion isn’t something that will be in the cards as long as he’s worth a hefty contract. When the front office had to inform him that they wouldn’t be offering him a qualifying offer when he entered free agency at the end of the 2018 season, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Those are usually more permanent goodbyes.
Cesar Hernandez was one of the only consistent pieces in the Tribe’s lineup last year, and while both sides have expressed at least some interest in him remaining in Cleveland, there’s no reason for the Indians to spend any money in bringing him back when the club just received two middle infielders in the blockbuster trade with the Mets.
With the shortstops acquired in both the Lindor & Mike Clevinger trades, which ones could have an impact for the Major League club in 2021? Will any of them be groomed for other positions?
The Lindor trade brought Rosario and Giménez to Cleveland, while the Tribe acquired Gabriel Arias and Owen Miller in the Mike Clevinger trade. At this point, it seems very likely that Rosario and Giménez will be the starting duo up the middle, with whoever doesn’t earn the job at shortstop moving over to second base.
Arias and Miller may need a little more time in the Minors before they make their impact on the big league stage. Although Arias is on the 40-man roster, he has yet to play above the Class A Advanced level and Miller hasn't yet reached Triple-A. But Arias’ defensive versatility will certainly help him down the line, as the experts at MLB Pipeline note he has the ability to play nearly anywhere on the diamond.
Not trying to diminish Lindor’s time in CLE, but how does he rank for Indians as all-time shortstops?
We took a look at the best to play each position in franchise history last April. You can click here to see where Lindor ranked among Tribe shortstops.
At this point, isn’t it realistic to trade Bieber? Every pitch he throws is one closer potential injury on a team that won’t compete for a division for at least a few seasons. Embrace the rebuild and ask for the moon in prospects or Clint Frazier for Bieber.
It’s difficult to answer this question without knowing the Tribe’s long-term plans. Like previously stated, we haven’t really been given an explanation as to why the club has had to make such significant payroll cuts over the last few years. Could they be trying to save more money now for a better chance to lock up Bieber to an extension in the future? Maybe. But if the front office knows that this is eventually heading toward a complete rebuild (if it’s not there already), then getting an early jump on a Bieber trade could get them the king’s ransom in return. But for now, while Bieber is still pre-arbitration eligible, the team can hold on to one of the best arms in the game for minimal cost.
What are the chances that the Indians are thinking rebuild and would move Ramírez as well?
This falls under the same category of a potential Bieber trade. If the team knows that it’s heading for a rebuild, then why not trade José Ramírez as well? He now sits atop their payroll list for next season, as he’s set to make $9.4 million. However, when Antonetti was asked on Thursday whether there would be more trades before Opening Day, he said that the team’s goal will be building on the roster from where it stands now.
What are the chances we see Bobby Bradley starting at first base this year for the Indians?
Very high. Whether he locks up the starting job long term or just gets a quick opportunity to prove if he can be their everyday first baseman, it seems like it’s finally time for Bobby Bradley to get his first real chance at the big league level.
What redeeming quality is there of the lineup as it stands?
1. The starting rotation. It may not be as deep as it was prior to Carrasco getting moved, but still having the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner on the staff with exciting arms in Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale, Triston McKenzie and up-and-coming arms in Logan Allen or Scott Moss, there’s still plenty of talent in the rotation.
2. The AL MVP runner up. The Indians may not have the best offensive lineup in the game, but they still have one of the best players in the league at the hot corner. Ramírez finished second in the AL MVP vote last year and had as exciting of a final month of the regular season as a player could have in 2020. If that carries over into 2021, he’ll still be fun to watch every night.
3. Franmil Reyes. The pandemic caused Reyes to go three-and-a-half months without seeing live pitching, which got him off to a slow start to the regular season. Before that, he was lights-out at the plate, demonstrating a whole new level of power during Spring Training. If he can get himself back in that groove this offseason, he’d be one of the most exciting players in the game to watch.