The Cleveland Indians have been saving money for years, and will have to adjust to the expectations that come with a higher payroll during the 2017 season.
It sure is a fun year to work in the Cleveland Indians’ front office. After so many years of trying to win by spending smart, ownership has opened up the bank account and allowed the front office to spend like a championship team.
From the $65 million committed to Edwin Encarnacion through 2019, the $12 million to Carlos Santana and the $9 million to Andrew Miller in 2017, the Indians are slowly rising out of the category of a small-market team.
Now, the market is still one of the smaller ones in general, but the Indians are not letting that hinder who they sign. It has also led to a staggering payroll for the franchise.
Fans can no longer complain about ownership not spending, but increasing the payroll this much does lead to criticism. The spending is nice, but it must pay off in wins and, hopefully, a championship.
This rise in payroll was going to happen naturally due to the nature of inflation and the fact the Indians are keeping so much homegrown talent, in addition to the free agent signing. To stay relevant the team must reward those who have improved each year, which is reflected by the $9 million committed to Jason Kipnis and the $7.5 million to Corey Kluber.
Regardless, all this spending is pointless if the team gets worse in 2017. It would not be a direct result of spending more, but it would essentially look like a waste of money.
The most key players in 2017 are Encarnacion and Santana, who are the two top earners in 2017. Playing the same position, the two must be dominant hitters in the lineup all season, matching or improving the 68 total home runs between Santana and Mike Napoli from last season. The OPS and RBI numbers must also match or improve the marks from last season.
The same goes for the rest of the roster, regardless of how much each individual is being paid. Everyone must take another step forward and do enough to not only make it to the World Series, but to bring a championship home. The extra spending has put the talent in place, at least on paper, and now the talent must produce.