CLEVELAND -- The Indians addressed their two primary needs over the past 24 hours. First, Cleveland reeled in elite lefty Andrew Miller in a blockbuster trade with the Yankees on Sunday. Next, the Tribe landed outfielder Brandon Guyer from the Rays on Monday.Now, the American League Central-leading Indians are better
CLEVELAND -- The Indians addressed their two primary needs over the past 24 hours. First, Cleveland reeled in elite lefty Andrew Miller in a blockbuster trade with the Yankees on Sunday. Next, the Tribe landed outfielder Brandon Guyer from the Rays on Monday.
Now, the American League Central-leading Indians are better positioned to not only to make a run at the postseason but also potentially last deep into October should they punch their ticket.
"I thought they aced it. I really do," Indians manager Terry Francona said of the front office. "Again, the game doesn't get played on paper. We have two months now to go out and embrace a huge challenge, and it should be a lot of fun."
In the days and weeks leading up to Monday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, Cleveland set out to bolster its bullpen and boost its offense. Acquiring Miller in exchange for four prospects -- headlined by outfielder Clint Frazier and lefty Justus Sheffield -- solved some of the late-inning inconsistency. Bringing Guyer into the fold gave Cleveland a complementary piece for its outfield.
To add Miller to the 25-man roster and Guyer to the 40-man roster, the Indians designated struggling third baseman Juan Uribe for assignment prior to Monday's game with the Twins. On Sunday, Cleveland did the same with Triple-A outfielder Joey Butler to vacate a 40-man spot. The team will need to make another move on its active roster after Monday's game to add Guyer.
The Indians also explored trades for Carlos Beltrán, Jay Bruce and Steve Pearce, among others, before the clock struck 4:01 p.m. ET. On Sunday, Cleveland had a deal in place with Milwaukee to acquire Jonathan Lucroy in exchange for four prospects, but the catcher invoked his no-trade clause and blocked the deal.
"You deal with what you can control," said Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president of baseball operations. "We work towards something, and then it happens or it doesn't. If it happens, then you move on to the next thing. And, if it doesn't, it's the same thing. You focus on what you can control."
Francona declined to specifically discuss Lucroy, who was traded to Texas on Monday.
"I guess the best way to put it: I like our team," Francona said. "I'm not that shook up about it. In fact, I'm not shook up at all."
Getting Miller was the prize at this year's Deadline.
The Indians shipped Frazier (New York's new No. 1-ranked prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com) and Sheffield, along with Minor League relievers Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen to the Yankees to land Miller. The 31-year-old lefty will team with righty Cody Allen to give Cleveland a formidable one-two punch at the back end of the bullpen for the rest of this season, and Miller is under contract for $9 million in each of the next two years.
"We're going to leverage those guys the best we can," Francona said. "A guy like Andrew Miller, he's kind of a rare breed."
Miller has posted a 1.39 ERA with 77 strikeouts against seven walks in 45 1/3 innings for the Yankees this season. The lefty has turned in a 2.21 ERA with 14.2 strikeouts per nine innings in his past five seasons combined.
Guyer's presence will give manager Terry Francona some much-needed lineup flexibility.
While Guyer has rated as a below-average defender this season by advanced metrics, the right-handed-hitting outfielder has experience at all three positions. More important for the Indians is his success against left-handed pitching. Guyer has hit .241 with a .752 OPS in 63 games overall, but he has turned in a .344 average and 1.082 OPS through 82 plate appearances against southpaws.
"Brandon fits our team really well," Antonetti said. "He's a really gritty player that plays the game the right way. So, we feel like he'll complement our group really well."
Right now, Cleveland has been using Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Naquin mostly against right-handed pitching. Guyer can help offer at-bats on the other side of the platoon, and he also gives the Tribe a little more flexibility in moving utility man Jose Ramirez out of the outfield and to third base more often down the stretch. The Indians also have outfielders Rajai Davis and Abraham Almonte, who are both better against righties.
Guyer is under contract for $1.185 million this year and will not be eligible for free agency until 2019. The Tribe traded Class A Advanced Lynchburg outfielder Nathan Lukes and Arizona Rookie League right-hander Jhonleider Salinas to Tampa Bay in order to obtain the outfielder.
Uribe, 37, signed a one-year contract worth $4 million with the Indians this season and was a good source of leadership and levity behind the scenes. Playing in his 16th Major League season, though, Uribe dealt with persistent struggles at the plate. In 73 games this year, he hit .206 with seven home runs and 25 RBIs, posting a .125 average (.364 OPS) in his past 21 games.
"He's a great guy, as everybody that has been around him knows," Francona said. "It was becoming increasingly hard to play him because he was having a tough time. ... It wasn't a fun thing to do because of how fond we are of him, but I think baseball-wise, it was the right thing to do."
Antonetti echoed that sentiment.
"It was a really difficult decision with Juan," Antonetti said. "He did make an incredible impact in our clubhouse, with a handful of players, specifically. We just got to the point where we felt that, as a team, as we were trying to put the pieces together moving forward, that we should go in a different direction."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.