The Cleveland Indians have a lot of high quality players on their payroll this season. But what’s the long term outlook for the Tribe’s payroll?
Coming into the 2018 season, the Indians have $135 million in payroll on the books for their roster. Judging off the team’s offseason strategy and opinions from beat writers, we should assume this is the maximum payroll the team can afford. And that $135 million number will be viewed as the max for this article.
The 2018 payroll is set, barring an unforeseen expenditure in the coming days. The only real additions that are going to be made to this roster now will happen in July at the trade deadline. And those additions will only count for a fraction of the player(s) total payroll this season.
Let’s look at the basics for the Cleveland Indians payroll this season. All contract numbers courtesy of Roster Resource.
2018 Payroll situation
Guaranteed Contracts (13): Edwin Encarnacion, Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Corey Kluber, Andrew Miller, Carlos Carrasco, Yonder Alonso, Yan Gomes, Josh Tomlin, Jose Ramirez, Brandon Guyer, Roberto Perez, Dan Otero
Total dollar value: $96,745,267
Total dollar value: $30, 692,500
Estimated dollar value: $7,085,000
Total payroll: $135,704,767
The Indians have nearly $20 million locked up in relievers Cody Allen and Andrew Miller. That’s a ton of money for only two members of a bullpen, and it could be worse since Miller appears to be on a team friendly contract for the value he provides.
Jason Kipnis, based on his production from last season, does not appear to be worth the money he’s getting. But if you look at his spring production so far, and his production over his career, a bounceback could be in order and will bring his contract back to being a good value.
The largest chunk of money is tied up in Edwin Encarnacion. The 35 year old slugger is owed $18.6 million in 2018 and his number only increases next year.
The only real offseason investment the Indians made was in first baseman Yonder Alonso. He will earn $7 million this season and represents the only addition to the payroll in a winter where players like Jay Bruce and Carlos Santana each signed for eight figures a season. This is where the real strain of the payroll showed. Alonso is a nice addition but there’s a reason he’s less expensive than some of the other options.
The entire starting rotation, which is one of the best in baseball, is under contract for less than $30 million. Kluber and Carrasco are both receiving way less money than they deserve on long term contracts. Kluber will get $10.7 million this season while Carrasco earns only $8 million, giving the Tribe an enormous value on their biggest strength.
But the lineup is the expensive part of the team with the three biggest money earners on the team being position players. Encarnacion, Kipnis, and Brantley are the three highest paid Cleveland Indians this season. Encarnacion is only a DH and doesn’t fill in at first base too often, while Kipnis is coming off a bad season and a position change, and Brantley hasn’t been very healthy.