Antonetti: Tribe's focus a bit more long term
CLEVELAND -- If the Indians ever intended to be buyers in the days leading up to Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, that plan has since been scrapped. A week of offensive ineptitude and the worst home losing streak in four decades has Cleveland re-evaluating the roster it thought could be a contender this year.
Following a 2-1 loss to the American League Central-leading Royals on Tuesday night, general manager Chris Antonetti discussed his club's recent shift in thinking. In light of the recent events on the diamond, the Tribe is now looking toward next season, while also trying to salvage what is remaining of the season at hand.
"A week ago at this point," Antonetti said, "we were looking at all options and actively pursuing ways to add players to our Major League team that were short-term fits. I think our focus is a little bit more longer-term, though we're still discussing players coming back to our Major League team, but only players whose control extends beyond this year. So, it's shifted our focus a little bit."
The first shoe fell in the fourth inning on Tuesday, when veteran outfielder David Murphy received the customary dugout hugs and handshakes that usually accompany a Deadline deal. The 33-year-old Murphy was traded to the Angels in exchange for Double-A shortstop Eric Stamets. It was hardly a blockbuster deal, but the move adds a plus defender with good speed to the Tribe's system.
Moving Murphy removes roughly $2 million from Cleveland's payroll for the remainder of this season, though the Indians will be sending cash considerations as part of the swap. The Indians were already on the hook for a $500,000 buyout of Murphy's contract regardless, if the team did not want to pick up his $7-million team option for 2016.
It was not a trade that will move the needle much one way or the other, but it provided evidence that Cleveland's position in the standings has convinced the front office to begin planning for next year. The Indians have lost six in a row and the team's eight-game losing streak at Progressive Field is the longest home skid since June 8-21, 1975. Since July 10, when the Tribe was two games within .500, it has since gone 3-10.
"I don't think we anticipated being in this spot," Antonetti said, "where we would be trading a veteran like Murphy, who is not only a contributing player on the field, but a great guy on the clubhouse and has been a big part of our team the last few years. This is the situation we're in now and there was an opportunity for us to get back a player we liked and also, as important, may provide an opportunity for a younger player to come up and get some at-bats."
With Friday's Deadline at 4 p.m. ET approaching, the Indians might not be done making moves, either.
For the other players in the clubhouse, it is hard to blame the front office for changing its view of this season.
"I don't think it's the front office's fault. They're playing the hand that they've been dealt this year," outfielder Brandon Moss said. "We've definitely underperformed. For him to say that, I think that's just stating the obvious, as far as it goes for how we've played. Nobody's happy. Nobody's enjoyed this season. ... It's been a tough one.
"It's very tough to sit here and be in here and go through it, because I know what we go through and I know how much we all care. I know how much we all want to win. I know how much we all want to bring fans to the stadium and give them something to root for, but it's just not getting done. And I can't blame Chris for saying what he said."