The Cleveland Indians will open 2019 focused on making it back to the World Series, and some young players could step up and help the cause.
It is entirely possible that the Cleveland Indians part with some top players this offseason.
Erik Gonzalez is already gone, so pour one out for him.
But a major trade could open up spots for younger players who have been biding their team in the minor leagues, just waiting for a chance to shine.
A recent article on MLB.com went through every MLB team’s top candidate to win Rookie of the Year in 2019. The choice for the Indians was Yu-Cheng Chang.
From the article:
"Though he continues to face an uphill battle towards carving out a spot in Cleveland’s infield, Chang, a member of the Tribe’s 40-man roster, saw increased reps at third base during the regular season and regular time there in the Arizona Fall League, suggesting the hot corner could be his path of least resistance. He has the hitting ability and raw power to profile there, as well as the defensive versatility to handle a utility role."
Chang has been a top prospect for years and is listed as the No. 6 prospect in the Indians system by MLB.com. The problem is that he has players named Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez taking up spots ahead of him in Cleveland.
The only way he shows up and gets significant playing time in 2019 would be if Jason Kipnis is traded and Ramirez moves to second base in a full-time role. Yandy Diaz should be the first option at third, but other trades could lead to him taking the DH spot or playing some outfield.
There are plenty of possibilities but unfortunately for Chang, I don’t see a quick way he reaches the majors. He may end up being a major trade chip for the Indians instead.
Moves will be made between now and the start of the season. But the young guys will continue to work and wait for the opportunity to shine, and potentially become the next big thing in Cleveland.