There’s no question that the Cleveland Indians offense is struggling, which begs the question if it’s time to start over and blow up this off-season.
The Cleveland Indians will come to a crossroads this season on many avenues and one is the path they should take with the struggling offense. From top to bottom, nearly the entire Indians’ batting order has failed to find a rhythm this season and it has been detrimental to the team’s success.
Now, this off-season Cleveland will have to make a choice on which way they want to go. Some of the players that have been key in recent seasons will have their contracts expire while others could be on the trade block.
Cleveland Indians Expiring Contract #1:
We’ll start with the expiring contracts with perhaps the most important being Carlos Santana. Santana has been a constant in the Indians’ lineup for most of the last 10 years, with the exception of 2018 when he was in Philadelphia. However, Santana has fallen off this season, seeing his average drop to a career-low .210.
The average is just the beginning as Santana has hit a home run on just 3% of his at-bats this season, a significant drop from last year which was at 5% of his at-bats. The drop in stats continues for Santana and what the Tribe have in the minors could make the decision easier.
Bobby Bradley has been waiting for his chance and the absence of Santana would allow him to step up and finally take over the first base duties. Bradley tore it up in 2019 for the Columbus Clippers and is long overdue for his shot in the majors.
Cleveland Indians Expiring Contract #2:
As much as Cesar Hernandez has been a bit of a bright spot in the lineup, he is another expiring contract that might be on the way out the door after this season. This is more of a financial decision than anything else.
We all know the Indians’ brass loves to save a penny and letting Hernandez walk to fill his spot with a prospect would save more than a few going into next year.
As it currently stands, the Indians’ Top 30 prospects on MLB.com has four middle infielders in the just the Top 10 and nine of the entire list of 30. Tyler Freeman and Aaron Brancho should both be ready in the next year or two and one of them could replace Hernandez.
If they aren’t ready or the Indians have multiple spots to fill in the infield, then trade deadline arrival Owen Miller could also be a player to step up should second base open up.
Cleveland Indians Trade Possibility #1:
Fans don’t want to hear about the possibility of moving Francisco Lindor, and for good reason. Mr. Smile has been the core of the Tribe for a few years now and is a key component of the franchise. However, his struggles this season paired with his monster pay day that is rapidly approaching could spell the end of his time in Cleveland.
The return for Lindor would be massive, but the Indians might have the option to add pieces at positions other than shortstop with that answer already in-house. The aforementioned Tyler Freeman is listed as Cleveland’s No. 2 prospect in the system and is a shortstop by nature.
Should Freeman be ready, the stars could align for the Indians to deal Lindor this coming off-season as part of a complete offensive rebuild.
Cleveland Indians Trade Possibility #2:
Continuing to work our way around the Indians infield, we’ve arrived at third baseman, Jose Ramirez. Like Santana and Lindor, Ramirez has been a mainstay in the Indians’ lineup, but his end could be on the horizon as part of the blowing up of the offense.
Ramirez is on a huge deal that has one year set in stone left, after that it turns into club options which makes Ramirez a big trade piece. This paired with the idea that the Indians might not need Ramirez for much longer makes moving him intriguing.
Nolan Jones is the club’s top prospect and is a third baseman who will be ready next year. If Jones is in fact ready, he could push Ramirez out the door, especially if the trade haul is high.
Now, few actually want to see Santana and Hernandez walk and Lindor and Ramirez be traded, but the reality of the Cleveland Indians is this is what has to happen. Santana and Hernandez can easily be replaced at a much lower cost while Lindor and Ramirez could each bring a haul of prospects.
With the Indians’ rotation already set for the future, these moves could be perfectly timed. Clearing cap space opens the door to lock in the rotation for years to come while the trades would net top talent of the future to fill spots left behind and more.
Luckily, the Indians have enough prospects that are MLB-ready that the team wouldn’t miss much of a beat. Given the struggles of this year offensively, new blood might be the answer the team needs anyway.