Everyone has (rightfully) been focused on outfield bats for the Cleveland Indians but one spot the Tribe could look to upgrade is on the infield, specifically at second base with a platoon bat for Amed Rosario. Guys like Yu Chang, Ernie Clement, and Owen Miller just don’t really fit in that role and all the other young infielders are too far away to help. But any one of these guys could provide a huge boost.
Kolten Wong – .268 AVG, .356 OBP, .403 SLG, .759 OPS, .329 wOBA, 107 wRC+
The Cardinals declined to pick up Wong’s option this fall making him a free agent. It seemed like a weird move at the time but his market hasn’t been too robust to this point. He’s a plus defender at second base, but he’s struggled against left-handed hitting (84 wRC+) and may be best utilized as a platoon. Pair him with Rosario and you could get some of the best overall production from the position in baseball. Other teams have bigger needs at second base so he probably will get priced out but if not, he’s definitely someone the Tribe should add even if it takes two years to do it.
Derek Dietrich – .239 AVG, .340 OBP, .440 SLG, .780 OPS, .336 wOBA, 110 wRC+
Dietrich is a guy I’ve wanted the Indians to add for a couple years now. He can play second base as well as multiple other positions, though unfortunately all rather poorly. He also has a big-time strikeout problem. However, against right-handed pitching the last three seasons his strikeout-rate is under 25%. He’s been cheap each of the last two years and 2021 should be no different. He is a good bench guy to have and could make a nice platoon with Rosario if you are okay punting defense some.
Adam Frazier – .277 AVG, .344 OBP, .442 SLG, .786 OPS, .334 wOBA, 110 wRC+
Like Benintendi, Frazier is not a free agent but a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Last winter there were rumors he could be dealt and given the state of the Pirates I can’t imagine he’s not still available. His numbers against righties have been quite similar overall to that of Dietrich. His average is much higher and less power but overall, the numbers are pretty close. He’s been downright awful against southpaws though posting a 66 wRC+ since 2018. He’s got some versatility so maybe his price tag is high but feels like a deal could work here.
Scooter Gennett – .301 AVG, .347 OBP, .477 SLG, .824, .351 wOBA, 118 wRC+
The biggest issue with Gennett is he’s hardly played in the last two years. He missed a ton of 2019 with injury (and was horrible when on field) and then sat out 2020 after not getting an offer he felt was fair over the winter. He wanted to start at second base and given how he played in 2017 and 2018 one can see that, but that’s ancient news now and he’ll be hard-pressed to get a major league deal right now. If he can come even close to what he did in 2018 then he’s a huge get for the Tribe. The Indians took a small chance on Cesar Hernandez last winter and it paid off.
Colin Moran (108 wRC+ vs RHP) and Asdrubal Cabrera (106) are others that could be fits. Moran isn’t a free agent (Pirates) and hasn’t played much second base but the bat fits; while Cabrera is that vet that just feels like he could work and we know he can play all over the infield. A reunion with Cesar Hernandez would still be nice, but just a 103 wRC+ against right-handed pitching and hard to say what his price will be after a solid 2020 campaign.
Are any of the guys mentioned above superstars? Are any of them going to replace a guy like Francisco Lindor? No and no. But all of them, the outfielders and infielders would absolutely help the Cleveland Indians in 2021 and potentially beyond. Again, the Cleveland Indians (and their fans) need to embrace the platoon. Bring in one or two of these guys and this team can find ways to score runs even with the losses of Lindor, Santana, and Hernandez. They just need to be open-minded and creative.