Cleveland Indians: Biggest holes to fill this offseason

With a plethora of players set to hit free agency, the Cleveland Indians will find themselves with plenty of holes to fill during the offseason.

While the official start of free agency is still a little ways away, the Cleveland Indians should have already planned for what their moves will be this Winter. They have plenty of big names slated to hit the market and will undoubtedly have to fill those spots.

We can speculate all day about who will fill in the missing pieces, but we need to identify what those sports are first. Assuming everyone departs, the Indians will be left with some big positions that will have vacancies.

The Outfield

Why not just include all three outfield positions here. With Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Melky Caberea all set to wave goodbye, the outfield corners are ripe for the taking. This is pretty serious considering how much of an issue the outfield was this year.

In center field, the Indians still have Greg Allen along with Bradley Zimmer once he returns from injury. There is a chance Greg Allen can move to the left or right field spots. Someone like Brandon Barnes could also come up from Triple-A. Or the Indians could look at a pretty loaded free agent class.

All of the big guns in the American League have powerful outfields, it’s something that left the Tribe in the dust this year. If they want to continue to contend, they will have to change the trend of a diminished outfield.

Second or Third Base

Josh Donaldson likely won’t be returning after his short stint in Cleveland. That can mean one of two things; Jose Ramirez stays at 2B and 3B is wide open, or he returns to his old home and Jason Kipnis comes back to 2B.

If the former is the case, third base will likely be filled by Yandy Diaz. This would surely make plenty of Tribe fans giddy, as they’ve been calling for Yandy to be an everyday starter. If it’s the latter, it still makes plenty of sense. Jason Kipnis is able to stay in the lineup, and Jose still plays a 3B position that he is very skilled at.

The beauty of this situation is the Indians still have plenty of players on the roster to fill the holes. They won’t have to spend money on a free agent to avoid disaster in the infield.

The Bullpen

You’ve heard plenty about how Andrew Miller and Cody Allen are set to hit free agency, but this leaves two big holes in an already depleted bullpen. Brad Hand and Adam Cimber now anchor a bullpen that features Dan Otero, and a few others (oh year, Oliver Perez is a free agent too).

This is probably the most glaring need as the bullpen was the bane of this Indians team for much of 2018. Fortunately, this is also a bullpen-rich free agent class. If there is one position the Indians should go out and spend money on, it’s a relief pitcher.

There is still the chance that some of the injured pitchers like Cody Anderson and Danny Salazar could return in bullpen roles, but they are both natural starters. Perhaps the Indians could trade someone from their plethora of starters for a bullpen arm.

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Talking about who will fill these spots is all speculation. But it’s clear these are all the biggest needs for the Indians to fill. If they want to stay in contention and on top of the AL Central, they need to stay a step ahead by ensuring that they have a playoff-ready roster. That can’t happen until the Indians plug up these holes.