The 2016 season was one to remember for the Cleveland Indians and their fans. As they entered the season, they were not seen as one of the better teams in the league, but they went 94-67 to win the AL Central. They would then go on to make a run through the playoffs, getting all the way to the World Series. Unfortunately for the Tribe, they met their match as they lost to the Chicago Cubs, but when all is said and done, it was a great season for the Indians.
Now the team enters the offseason with minimal holes. They have a few free agents, with Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis being chief among them. But overall, the club looks set to return most of the team that took them to the top of the AL in 2016.
Now with the Winter Meetings upon us, let’s take a closer look at where the Indians stand moving forward.
Positions of Need
Outfield: If the team has one main weakness, it is their outfield. They do have a handful of names, with Abraham Almonte, Tyler Naquin, Brandon Guyer, Lonnie Chisenhall and Michael Brantley in town. But Brantley still has a ton of question marks surrounding his health. The rest of the names listed are all alright, but none of them are going to have fans running to the box office to go see. The team could use a bigger name out there, and if the team can use their pitching depth to upgrade the outfield, they will.
Designated Hitter: Without Mike Napoli, the team would essentially be plugging in one of those outfielders into the DH slot. So at the end of the day, the team will need to add at least one bat, no matter what position. A big power bat would be a nice boost for a team looking to make it back to the World Series.
Outfield: A reunion with Rajai Davis is certainly in the cards. The team could take many different approaches to improving the unit, with several options on the trade market as well as the open market. Carlos Gomez could be a potential guy who could outperform the contract he is given, or he could be a total bust. Charlie Blackmon is a name the team could look to target in trade talks, using one of their starting pitchers to persuade the Colorado Rockies to finally send him packing. Michael Saunders has had his ups and downs, and the club could look to use his power.
Designated Hitter: A reunion with Mike Napoli is right up there with one with Davis. Mitch Moreland is another free agent first baseman who could slide into the team’s DH slot. Chris Carter was recently non-tendered and he could give the team some serious power. And let’s not forget, one of the biggest power bats out there, Mark Trumbo, who led the Majors with home runs this past season.
Possible Trade Pieces
Josh Tomlin/Trevor Bauer: If the team wants to upgrade their outfield via the trade, one of their starting pitchers will be on the move. Josh Tomlin has two years left, both at very affordable prices, which will make him appealing after a decent 2016 campaign. Bauer is a guy who has a ton of talent, and is a former top prospect. He has not yet reached his potential, and could certainly be a guy teams buy into in hopes that he finally reaches that potential. Possible fits include the Colorado Rockies, Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays.
Lonnie Chisenhall: Chisenhall is a former top prospect now entering the prime ages of his career. Overall 2016 was nothing special, but there were a few times he flashed his potential. If the team adds to their outfield, one of their current guys will likely be on the outs. The most likely of those names is Chisenhall, who could find himself traded for a bullpen arm or a depth player at a different position. The Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles and San Francisco Giants are all potential landing spots.
One Bold Prediction
This one has not been mentioned much, but I think Mark Trumbo is on his way to Cleveland. The team needs to replenish the power lost by Mike Napoli, and Trumbo provides just that. He can slide right into the DH slot, and play a few games in the outfield when needed.
And be sure to check out all of our Winter Meetings coverage here at INSC! You can check out more team previews and other MLB Winter Meetings pieces here!
So what do you think? What will the Indians do during the Winter Meetings? Tell us in the comments!