Exploring One Last Offseason Move for the Indians


February 22, 2012; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians general manager Chris Antonetti watches a bullpen session during spring training at the Cleveland Indians Player Development Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

WOF Staff Weighs in on Final Offseason Move

The Indians have done very little this offseason to this point. A minor trade here. A couple of signings of minor role players there. Needless to say, it hasn’t been an exciting follow-up to last offseason when the Indians signed Nick Swisher after a recruiting battle with the Rangers and Michael Bourn out of nowhere. To their credit, the Indians have resisted the temptation to overreact to last season’s success and make a stupid move.

With that said, the Indians will probably make a few more minor moves as we get closer to the start of Spring Training. Knowing this, I decided to ask the staff what one move they would like to see the Indians make through either a trade or in free agency. Naturally, no one could give me just one move. Way to listen to directions, everyone. Anyways, here is what the staff had to say.

Evan Vogel: Abreu and Francoeur…sex on a stick, fellas! Sex on a stick!

Michael Chaney: I’m a little disappointed that the Indians haven’t done a lot this offseason, but with the prices that free agents and trade targets are now costing, it’s hard to blame them. It doesn’t mean that I don’t wish they would have done more, but I understand the reasoning behind it.

Nonetheless, the Indians still have needs. They could add another hitter, though I don’t really see much need for one, and the free agent hitters still available aren’t too appealing. I still think Jeff Baker would be a terrific fit due to his lefty-mashing skills, and maybe I’d take Kendrys Morales if his price tag continues to come down (but I’m still not too keen on losing a draft pick for him).

Sep 24, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (30) delivers in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

However, there are still a bevy of free agent pitchers left. I’ve made no secret of my love for Paul Maholm as a back-end solution to the Indians’ rotation, and it’s still at least conceivable that the Indians could bring back Ubaldo Jimenez. I also really like Matt Garza, and the Indians apparently do too, judging by the conversations they had with the Cubs before the Trade Deadline last year. However, the Indians don’t really need a splashy addition. I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see them take a chance on a low-risk starter like Scott Baker, John Lannan, or Jerome Williams in an effort to add rotation depth. I like the look of the bullpen at the moment, but I’d also love to see the Indians take a chance on a reliever like Grant Balfour if his price keeps dropping as well.

Steve Kinsella: I want the Indians to monitor the free agent relief pitching market. I am hoping the Indians examine three types of relievers. A high leverage guy whose price drops, a ground ball inducing low leverage reliever , or a wild card project type reliever that can move from starting in low leverage to moving up to higher leverage.

The price drop guy may be Grant Balfour or Fernando Rodney. I’m not suggesting either will sign for less than $7M per year but one or both may look at a one year deal rather than the two-year deal they were hoping for. Although, I think it’s highly unlikely Balfour ends up taking a one-year deal its worth monitoring.

The ground ball low leverage guy that intrigue me the most is Luis Ayala who is around a 50% ground ball guy. It would be nice to have the ability to try to get out of an inning when runners are on base and less than two outs in the sixth or seventh without having to necessarily dip into the high leverage guys.

The project guys that I would be most interested in taking a gamble on are Carlos Marmol and Fernando Rodriguez. Marmol’s issues are well documented and are control related while K-Rod’s issues are a little harder to decipher but from what I’ve been led to understand it very well may be a personality issue.Starting Marmol off in the 6th inning or have him come in when team is trailing for the first part of the season and seeing if he can gain some sort of control would be a worthwhile gamble. While K-Rod could come right in and pitch in any leverage situation but we’d have to wonder about how he may disrupt the clubhouse.

Ed Carroll: It’s certainly not sexy, and I’m honestly not even sure it’s realistic, but given the circumstances of both the team and the ballplayer, I feel a re-signing of Ubaldo Jimenez could be in the best interests of all parties. I know he or his agent recently said he still expects $14 million a year, and maybe he does. For me, the fear with any free agent starting pitcher is the number of years in any contract. Given the relative familiarity the Indians have with Jimenez, he’d be the one SP I’d consider going four years with (assuming the $14 million a year number is accurate). I think there’s a reasonable chance you’d at least have a reliable innings-eater for the next couple years, and you even get the potential for a bit more, like Tribe fans saw in 2013. Given the free agent market, $14 million a year isn’t as absurd as it once was. It’s not an idea solution, and I was quite opposed to it in October. But with the way the offseason has shaken out, re-signing Ubaldo Jimenez could do a lot to alleviate my concerns about 2014.

Katrina Putnam: Overall, I’m happy with the moves they’ve made already. They don’t need to spend tons of money, they just need to be smart about what they do spend. While they could always use more depth in the bullpen and rotation, they don’t need to add someone else to have a shot at competing. They have a pretty solid roster, including a quality bench. They also have more depth in the minors than in previous seasons, which will be a luxury in the event of an injury. I know it’s popular to hope that they can acquire one of the remaining big-name starting pitchers, but unless a great deal comes along, I think they’re better off with what they have now. Excluding that scenario, there isn’t really anyone else that I’m hoping they’ll sign.

Sep 9, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (30) delivers in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Evan Vogel: Ok, Ok. Here’s my serious answer. What move would I like the Indians to make? I would like the Indians to trade Chris Perez for Devin Mesoraco like I said last winter…wouldn’t that have worked out nice? Since we can’t go back in time, how about the Indians give Ubaldo Jimenez a one-year, $18 million deal right now and let him prove to the rest of MLB that he is worth a five-year investment next winter? The free agent market has been so slow to develop and the Tribe would be wise to shore up the rotation as they enter another year of possible contention. By giving him a solid, one-year investment prior to the pitching market setting, they may be able to lock-up their second half ace from 2013.

Brian Heise: I actually agree with Ed and Evan on this one. Given the state of the Indians starting rotation and the standstill that has become the free agent market, why not throw an overly priced one year deal at Ubaldo Jimenez? He’s a better option than any of the candidates to fill out the final spot in the rotation. Plus, we saw how well Jimenez can pitch when motivated by pending free agency. Why not try to catch lightning in a bottle twice in a row? However, in order to get Jimenez to sign on the dotted line for one year, the Indians would probably have to offer him at least $18 to $20-million. That means this would probably be the last move the Indians would be able to make this offseason.