The 2019 MLB Winter Meetings have concluded. The Cleveland Indians remained quiet on tangible action, but very active in the rumor mill.
In what has increasingly become the norm for the Cleveland Indians, they remained quiet while the big name free agents started signing this week. This time last year while most media and team personnel were flying home, the team completed a three-team trade that returned Carlos Santana to Cleveland.
This year it does not appear a massive trade is forthcoming. While the Indians were short on moves, they were one of the central teams of focus in terms of rumors. The first solid piece of news to come out of the Winter Meetings for the Indians was when GM Chris Antonetti spoke to the media.
Antonetti spoke with the media on the usual variety of topics. While most of the focus is on if he will trade Francisco Lindor this offseason or later, he never said more than the usual cliche and GM-speak one would expect.
However, on the topic of the other infield star, Jose Ramirez, Antonetti did specify that the Indians would prefer to keep him at third this season. This little nugget is actually big news for the Indians.
Per MLB.com, Antonetti said the following when asked about what position would be best for Ramirez:
“We are profoundly appreciative of José’s willingness to bounce back and forth,” Antonetti said. “At the same time, we’re also cognizant of [the fact that] he’s established himself as one of the best third basemen in baseball. That’s the default position. As we think about how we build our team, if the best way to do that is to shift him to second base, José has been open to doing that. But the most natural thing would be to leave him at third and maybe add at second.”
First, it means that star prospect Nolan Jones will likely be starting the 2020 campaign in Columbus. If the Indians were to trade its stars and rebuild, Jones would be a significant internal option for getting at-bats and developing at the major league level.
In addition, it clarifies that they may see more options at second Base in the trade and free agent markets, rather than third. In the trade market you will hear the name Gavin Lux (Dodgers) who would only be the Indians second basemen if they moved Lindor (more on that later). Beyond him, other realistic trade options would be Chad Pinder (A’s), Tommy La Stella (Angels), and Adam Frazier (Pirates).
In the free agent market, the Indians have serious rumors circling them. First it was now Red Sox INF Jose Peraza, which leaves former Phillie Cesar Hernandez as a realistic target. With all free agents, the Indians most likely will not be signing the top player at any position, but since Mike Moustakas and Peraza have signed, expect the Indians to make a move sooner than later at this position.
Now let’s look at the non-tangible fallout from the Winter Meetings and all the rumors.