The Indians may be as close as a lock as there is to win the AL Central next season. Still, there are hoping to shed payroll and are shopping both Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. It’ll be interesting to see how Cleveland sheds payroll while still remaining a World Series contender.
Current State: World Series Contender
Indians Acquire OF Daniel Johnson and RHP Jefry Rodriguez in Exchange For C Yan Gomes
In an effort to shed salary, the Indians have traded catcher Yan Gomes in exchange for outfield prospect Daniel Johnson and pitcher Jefry Rodriguez. By trading away Gomes, Cleveland is able to get rid of $9 million of their payroll this season and $11 million for next season. They also receive two mid-level prospects. Johnson, 23, will be the Indians’ 12th ranked prospect. In Double-A last season, he hit .267/.321/.410 and projects as a fourth outfielder. Rodriguez, 25, had a 5.71 ERA with a 1.54 WHIP and a 5.97 FIP. He looks like a long reliever at best. Although Cleveland sheds salary, they also create a hole at catcher. As of now, Roberto Perez will be the starting catcher. Considering he had a .519 OPS and a negative WAR last season, that won’t cut it for a team with World Series aspirations. Catcher may have not been a spot where the Indians should have cut salary from.
Indians Acquire 1Bs Carlos Santana and Jake Bauers In a Three Team Trade With Mariners and Rays
In a three team trade with the Rays and Mariners, the Indians have acquired first basemen Carlos Santana and Jake Bauers. Cleveland will also received $6 million from the Mariners. In this trade, the Indians will send designated hitter/first baseman Edwin Encarnacion to the Mariners and a Competitive Balance pick that currently stands at the 77th pick in next year’s draft. Meanwhile, Cleveland will send right-handed pitching prospect Cole Sulser and corner infielder Yandy Diaz to the Rays. Santana, 32, will return to Cleveland after spending 8 seasons with them before signing with the Phillies last offseason. He struggled in his first season with Philadelphia, hitting .229/.352/.414 with a 1.6 WAR. Cleveland is certainly hoping that he goes back to his usual ways, which is around a .800 OPS and a 3.0 WAR. He better do so, because they’re still on the hook for $29 million of his remaining $35 million salary over the next two seasons. Bauers, 23, was a highly touted prospect and remains a promising young player, despite putting together just a .700 OPS last year. Santana and Bauers, who will likely play designated hitter and first baseman, respectively, will be replacing Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso. While they’ll improve Cleveland’s flexibility and on base skills, that’s a major downgrade in power. Plus, the Indians are giving away a Competitive Balance pick , a promising young infielder in Diaz, and a pitching prospect in Sulser. This trade looks good at first glance, but it actually depletes the Indians of extra power in the lineup that they need without clearing enough salary and without fixing some of their other needs, such as catcher and in the outfield.
Indians Acquire C Kevin Plawecki In Exchange For RHP Walker Lockett and INF Sam Haggerty
The Indians have acquired catcher Kevin Plawecki from the Mets in exchange for pitcher Walker Lockett and minor league infielder Sam Haggerty. Plawecki, 27, had just a .685 OPS with 7 home runs and compiled a 1.3 WAR last season in a partial role with the Mets. With just a career .638 OPS and a 77 OPS+, he’s definitely a below average hitter, even for a catcher. He was ranked the league’s 4th best blocker based on blocking runs by Baseball Prospectus, but he had zero defensive runs saved last season and rated as a below average framer as well. Plawecki and Roberto Perez now form the league’s most uninspiring duo behind the plate, as neither is capable of starting. They didn’t give up much to get him, but it’s difficult to understand the point of this acquisition, as Plawecki definitely doesn’t help fix Cleveland’s weakness at catcher. If the Indians try to ride that duo of Plawecki and Perez, then they may have to surrender the league’s weakest division as a result. This just another move to what’s been a confusing offseason for Cleveland.
Indians Sign RP Oliver Perez
The Indians have signed reliever Oliver Perez, bringing back the lefty on a one year deal worth $2.5 million. Perez, 37, was terrific for Cleveland last season. In 32.1 innings, he posted a 1.39 ERA with a 0.74 WHIP and a 1.74 FIP. While his pitch usage remained the same, Perez did a much better job inducing ground balls (41.2%) and also limiting his hard contact (26.5%). There is nothing that signals that last season was a fluke, and even if he isn’t able to sustain this dominance, it’s not too stretched to say that he should post an ERA around 3.00. For a team that needed a lefty out of the bullpen badly, $2.5 million is great value for that type of production, and frankly I’m surprised Perez did not have more suitors.
*Will Be Updated With Every Move The Indians Make