Cleveland Indians: An early breakdown of the AL Central

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(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Does the Josh Donaldson signing keep the Twins atop the AL Central? Are the White Sox poised for a run? Or can the Indians reclaim the division title?

Josh Donaldson was the last of the superstar free agents left on the market, and he ended his courtship with interested teams on Tuesday night by committing to the Minnesota Twins. The Donaldson signing is the latest (and biggest) move in a busy AL Central offseason.

It’s at least somewhat surprising to see Donaldson settle on the Twins. The Washington Nationals clearly needed him the most, and his familiarity with an Atlanta Braves team set up to contend for the next decade would’ve seemed to make them his ideal fit. Perhaps the ability to DH at the tail-end of his four-year contract with Minnesota played a role, but in any case, he’s going to be playing his home games at Target Field from now on.

From the standpoint of the Cleveland Indians, Donaldson’s agreement with the Twins certainly renders a take-back of the AL Central crown more of an uphill challenge. Minnesota’s inability to acquire any of the front-line starting pitching options available this winter was a win for the rest of the division; reallocating what it might have spent on said pitching options in this manner is a fine contingency.

With the fourth-biggest name of this year’s free agent class having landed in the American League Central, now seems like a fine time to take stock of how the division is shaping up for the 2020 season. How does each stack up against the Indians? What advantages does Cleveland have over its adversaries, and where is the Tribe vulnerable?

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