Cleveland Indians: Grading the Tribe’s Winter Meetings

James Karinchak #99 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
James Karinchak #99 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

The Winter Meetings have come and gone and little happened, but in the overall scope how do we grade the Cleveland Indians activity?

The 2020 Winter Meetings were expected to be uneventful given the virtual format, but the Cleveland Indians were expected to be one of the teams to watch over the week. While a big move never occurred, how did the Indians fare during the Winter Meetings?

Like many anticipated, the Cleveland Indians were on the losing end of majority of the moves that included them. The team saw three players move to new teams during the Winter Meetings while adding just one player, coming during the Rule 5 Draft. Perhaps the biggest takeaway for the Tribe was what didn’t happen during the Winter Meetings and what could come from the lack of activity from the front office.


We’ll start with a positive for the Cleveland Indians and that was the addition of Trevor Stephan during the Rule 5 Draft. Selected from the New York Yankees organization, Stephan comes over as a right-handed pitcher, serving predominately as a starter in the minors.

Coming up through the minors, Stephan made it as far as Double-A, totaling 29 games with Trenton, being all starts. Stephan accumulated a 5-12 record with Trenton, logging a 4.79 ERA. Given those stats, why would the Indians select him and essentially force their hand in having to keep him in the majors?

For the Indians, Stephan could easily become a strong bullpen arm. While his overall stats aren’t great, Stephan was able to average 10.3 strikeouts per nine with just 0.6 home runs per nine. Other “per nine” stats included 9.1 for hits and 3.7 for walks.

There’s work to do, but Stephan has some potential and was basically a low risk, high reward for the Indians bullpen who had previously parted ways with Adam Cimber earlier in the offseason.


For departures the first to come to mind is obviously Carlos Santana. Not only did Santana leave Cleveland, but he stayed in the AL Central with the Kansas City Royals. While it hurts to see a fan favorite leave, Santana’s stats took a dip in 2020 which the Tribe should be able to replace with the prospects available in the organization.

Back to the Rule 5 Draft, the Cleveland Indians also lost two players, being pitcher Luis Oviedo to the Pittsburgh Pirates and outfielder Ka’ai Tom to the Oakland A’s. Of the two, Oviedo hurts the most in the long-term and Tom in the short-term. However, given who the Tribe decided to protect on the 40-man roster, they felt that Oviedo and Tom weren’t important enough to include them this year.

What Didn’t Happen

Going into the Winter Meetings it seemed almost certain that Francisco Lindor would be a member of a team not named the Cleveland Indians by the conclusion of the week. Instead, we barely have a grasp for the favorites to land Lindor.

For news pertaining to Lindor, we really only heard more rumors and nothing that gained momentum. The Toronto Blue Jays were a newer team to be mentioned and linked to Lindor with Lourdes Gurriel being involved in a potential deal. It was also brought up that Lindor would prefer to go to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but who wouldn’t want to go to the defending World Series Champions?

Grade: D

The reality for the Cleveland Indians is that majority of what happened didn’t go their way. It began with losing Carlos Santana, which was expected. However, losing him to a division rival only makes the situation that much worse.

From there the attention shifted to the Rule 5 Draft, which is normally boring and uneventful. Instead, the Tribe lose two players that have shown flashes and had the opportunity to eventually have roles at the major league level. Now, the Indians did add a player, but given that his experience ends at Double-A and he hasn’t been able to play consistently, that doesn’t exactly spell out a win.

Finally, the Cleveland Indians still have Francisco Lindor on the roster. It seemed like the Winter Meetings might bring the end to Lindor’s tenure in Cleveland, but instead we’re just left with even more question marks than we had prior.

We didn’t expect much from the Winter Meetings, but even those expectations weren’t met. This offseason as a whole will most likely be a bit depressing for the Indians’ future and the Winter Meetings were just the first of many indications.

Next. 3 favorites to get Lindor after Winter Meetings. dark