I made up a plan a couple weeks ago only to see several developments (among them the departure of Kevan Smith) force me to make a few adjustments. Nonetheless, the philosophy remains the same: this team needs to start adding significant numbers of wins to the major league roster NOW if they want to be relevant in 2020, especially as the Indians seem to be preparing to close their window.
- José Abreu – $16 million TENDER
- Avisaíl García – $8 million NON-TENDER
- Yolmer Sánchez – $4.7 million TENDER
- Carlos Rodón – $3.7 million TENDER
- Matt Davidson – $2.4 million NON-TENDER
- Leury García – $1.9 million TENDER
None of these should be entirely surprising, though I've made two modifications from my original list. First, I'm getting rid of Avi as I think better options will be available in free agency for the money. Second, I'm non-tendering Matt Davidson, who, while intriguing as a swing infielder/reliever, I just can't really see making room for.
Impending Free Agents
- Miguel González (2018 salary: $4.75 million) BYE
- Hector Santiago (2018 salary: $2 million) BYE
No surprises here. I think we have enough lefty bullpen arms and to compensate for losing Santiago, who wasn't exactly stellar in 2018.
Josh Donaldson (5 years, $100 million). Revised downward from my previous plan, but if the majority of the league thinks he's looking for a make-good contract, this could be an opportunity to get a star player at a steal of a price, and a good way for the team to bust into the realm of nine figure contracts. My plan would be to have him man third in 2019, then go hard after Nolan Arenado for 2020 and shift Donaldson to first when Jose Abreu departs.
Dallas Keuchel (4 years, $100 million). Personally, I'm more of a fan of Keuchel than Corbin in this free agent market. While older, I think he's been more reliable throughout his career and despite some of his peripherals taking a turn downward he's a guy who has always generated weak contact and ground balls, something we really need in our home park. I'd be willing to go 5/125 if the market dictates.
A.J. Pollock (4 years, $64 million w/$500k bonus for every 50 PAs starting at 150). The one contract I'd not feel good about handing out, but damn, do we need help in center field in a big way, and Andrew McCutchen and Adam Jones are basically corner-only as every day players. He's a huge injury risk (hence the incentives), but when he's healthy he's an elite player. If one of the Luises (Robert, Basabe, Gonzalez) cruises their way to the majors in the next couple years, all the best as Pollock will probably need to move to a corner by then. Heck, he'd make a better DH than just about anybody we've trotted out there in the last five years.
Adam Jones (1 year, $10 million). Basically replaces Avi on a one year deal. Well past his prime and not likely to be a huge plus, but still a consistent producer who has managed to remain pretty healthy despite playing center field for over a decade, which is a lot more than can be said for Avi.
Kelvin Herrera (1 year, $11 million). I originally didn't envision going hard after any relievers given the glut of them we have on the roster and in the pipeline, but I think this is a potentially elite arm who can probably be had on a short-term deal and be a major trade deadline asset.
None just yet. I'd prefer to maintain the depth in the farm system for the time being and, hey, if this team surprises then be buyers in July.
C - Omar Narvaez
3B - Josh Donaldson
1B - Jose Abreu
LF - Eloy Jimenez (who supplants whatever guy they roll with on Opening Day)
DH - Daniel Palka
CF - A.J. Pollock
2B - Yoan Moncada
RF - Adam Jones
SS - Tim Anderson
Tons of OBP at the top of the lineup, finally! Of course, it would take a non-Ricky manager to bother putting the guy with an OBP over .300 at the leadoff spot, but hey, replace him while you're at it, IDGAF. The 2-5 spots could potentially generate 120+ home runs between the four of them, which would be a lovely change of pace and a legit offense.
C - Welington Castillo
IF - Yolmer Sanchez
UT - Leury Garcia
OF - Adam Engel
Castillo is still around more out of necessity than anything else. If the team is willing to eat his remaining salary (or find a trade partner for some soured prospect) and sign Grandal, great, but given how much I have the team committed for at this point (I'd estimate somewhere around $120-125 million), that might be a bit much for a single offseason. Yolmer and Leury make an excellent tandem off the bench, and being relegated to a super utility role might help the latter stay healthy finally. Engel is here purely as an elite defensive replacement and will quickly be tossed if Basabe or Robert ascends quickly.
LHP - Dallas Keuchel
RHP - Reynaldo Lopez
LHP - Carlos Rodon
RHP - Lucas Giolito
RHP - Dylan Covey/Jordan Stephens/Spencer Adams/Manny Banuelos (making way for Dylan Cease)
The 1-3 spots in the rotation are pretty solid, even if Lopez and Rodon still don't inspire tons of confidence based on their short track records to date. Giolito and Covey are basically getting extended tryouts in the rotation. If Giolito stumbles out of the gate, he can still be optioned back to Charlotte and be replace with Stephens, Adams,Banuelos, or Guerrero. Covey would be put in the pen if he continues to have problems getting through the order a second time, but he was pretty damn good there and he might be needed there if Jones has his typical annual injury early in the season. Hopefully, Cease continues to deal in Charlotte and isn't held down artificially, though given his health history and likely low innings limit I wouldn't expect him to be a workhorse for 2019.
RHP - Kelvin Herrera
RHP - Nate Jones
LHP - Jace Fry
RHP - Juan Minaya
RHP - Ian Hamilton
RHP - Ryan Burr/Thyago Vieira
LHP - Aaron Bummer/Caleb Frare
So much variance in this group, but that's so often the case for bullpens. Can Herrera bounce back from injury? Can Jones stay healthy? Does Fry build on an at times dominant first season? Is Hamilton the real deal? Who will be able to stick on the roster and how much will we have to dig into depth pieces like Ruiz, Thompson, Burdi, and the like? Big upside with big questions.
CONCLUSION: Overall, I see this team making a run at .500. The starting pitching is improved, but lacks quality depth and, barring a renaissance from Keuchel, top-end punch (especially considering the shit framing they're likely to get). The lineup is powerful, but will almost certainly deal with a major injury or two, which will undercut the season's numbers, but while intact they'll be a top-10 run scoring unit in MLB, I think. The question is whether they can sack up and hire a manager who is willing to put his high OBP player at the top of the lineup and his speedsters at the bottom. We can't have another season where our 1-2 hitters collectively post a .293 OBP; no amount of speed makes up for that garbage.