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3 priorities Tribe should address before season

December 19, 2018

Throughout the first half of the offseason, the Indians made it clear that their goal has been to cut down their payroll and infuse the organization with players who are under team control. So far, they have been quite successful.Cleveland has cut about $20 million from next season's payroll after

Throughout the first half of the offseason, the Indians made it clear that their goal has been to cut down their payroll and infuse the organization with players who are under team control. So far, they have been quite successful.
Cleveland has cut about $20 million from next season's payroll after dealing catcher Yan Gomes, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion and first baseman Yonder Alonso, among others. In return, the team received first baseman Jake Bauers from Tampa Bay, first baseman Carlos Santana from Seattle, right-hander Jefry Rodriguez from Washington and some Minor Leaguers.
Now that the team has trimmed its payroll, the focus might soon turn to filling some holes on the roster. With just more than a month remaining in the offseason, here are the three things the Indians have left to do before Spring Training:
1. Add some outfield depth
At this point, it's no secret that Cleveland could use some extra help in the outfield. After losing Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall and Melky Cabrera to free agency, the Indians' outfield will have a much different look in 2019.
If the current roster remains the same until Spring Training, the Indians could have Tyler Naquin starting in right. Naquin battled through injuries last season, beginning with a left hamstring strain in May before having right hip surgery in August. At the Winter Meetings, manager Terry Francona said that Naquin is in a "really good place" as the 2019 season approaches.

As far as center field goes, the Indians will be able to get a much better look at last year's non-waiver Trade Deadline pickup, Leonys Martin. Martin played in just six games for the Tribe before coming down with a life-threatening bacterial infection that sidelined him for the rest of the season. Martin was cleared to start baseball activities at the end of November, and Francona said in Las Vegas that the outfielder was about six pounds from reaching his original weight.
Finally, Jordan Luplow -- who was traded to the Indians from the Pirates on Nov. 14 -- could get the start in left. The 25-year-old has had limited experience in the Majors, playing in just 64 games over the last two seasons. Last year, he hit .185 with three homers and seven RBIs in 92 at-bats.
Indians' 2019 tickets
The Indians have other options in Greg Allen or even newly acquired Bauers. Francona also mentioned at the Winter Meetings that Bradley Zimmer could be cleared to play at some point next season, but Opening Day is definitely off the table. As many of these options are bouncing back from injuries and some are still learning the ropes of the big leagues, the Indians could use at least one solid pickup before Spring Training.
2. Bolster the 'pen
While in Las Vegas for the Winter Meetings, Indians president Chris Antonetti said that adding to the bullpen is "definitely on the list of things we'd like to do." Since then, the team has acquired two first basemen, but has not added another arm.
Andrew Miller, Cody Allen, Oliver Perez and Josh Tomlin are currently free agents, leaving a gaping hole in a bullpen that's coming off a shaky season. Now, the team has options within its own organization in Nicholas Goody and Danny Salazar, both of whom are returning from injuries. Antonetti said that the plan for Salazar is to stretch him out as a starter, but assess the team's needs when the hurler is ready for game action and determine if he would be a better fit for the 'pen.
Indians' 2019 schedule
Cleveland has another option in Rodriguez, who was acquired from the Nationals in the Gomes trade prior to the Meetings. The 25-year-old pitched in 14 games last season, making eight starts, and accumulated a 5.71 ERA in 52 innings pitched. He allowed 37 walks and struck out 39 with a 1.54 WHIP.

Even with the in-house options, the Indians could use at least one solid addition to the relief corps before Spring Training.
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3. Pick up a bat
After losing Encarnacion, the Indians' roster appears to be missing a big bat. Adding Santana to the lineup helps fill that hole, however, when he gets some time at first base, there aren't many names that jump out at designated hitter. As of now, Bauers, who demonstrated some unexpected power in his rookie year last season, could be an option to trade off first base and DH duties with Santana. But if Bauers is needed in the outfield while Santana is at first, the Tribe could use another bat to work into the lineup as another option at designated hitter.

How the Indians will fill their needs is up in the air. A trade involving Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer could get the team some top-notch talent in return. But, Cleveland could also decide to keep its rotation intact and work the free-agent market. Although the New Year is approaching, there is still plenty of offseason left.

Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.