With the news Wednesday evening that Jay Bruce is signing with the New York Mets, the Cleveland Indians quiet off-season has continued. I think most did not know what the Indians would do coming into this off-season, but I think most expected them to be a little more active than they have, so what is the deal? I will get to that, but a little recap on what the Indians off-season has looked like.
Coming into the off-season, the Indians knew they were going to have pending free agents in Carlos Santana, Jay Bruce, Joe Smith and Bryan Shaw. Unfortunately, because of the market, all 4 guys were unable to be retained. Santana signed for 60 million over 3 years with the Philadelphia Phillies. Bruce got 3yrs and 39 million from his previous club, the New York Mets. Joe Smith got a 2-year deal for 15 million dollars and Bryan Shaw, who was overcriticized by the fans, and someone the Indians will surely miss, got 27 million over a 3-year span.
Jay Bruce was someone coming into the off-season who was projected to demand around 17-19 million, but only ended up getting 13 million a year, and even that was too pricey for the Indians, who will miss hit power bat in the lineup. Joe Smith was a different look as a reliever. With his side armed windup, Smith gave the Indians a different look out of the bullpen. Like the first time he played for the Indians, his second go around went pretty well. Of the two relievers they lost Bryan Shaw was the most criticized, but was one of the most reliable the Indians have had in the past few years. Since coming to the Indians in 2013, Shaw has logged at least 64 innings every year, while giving up single digit home runs and walking an average of 22 batters a year. Often criticized, but very reliable as a setup guy, the Indians will have to find a way to fill 64 innings a year that Shaw gave them.
Santana was always going to be hard to resign, but after getting an offer for 20 million a year, he was out of the Indians price range. The Indians will surely miss his home runs and consistency when it came to getting on base. Santana had an on base percentage north of 350 every season he had been with the club. That consistent on base percentage will be missed. The Indians are going to try to fill that gap with free agent, Yonder Alonso. Alonso hit 22 home runs and had 49 RBIs for the Oakland Athletics, before being traded to Seattle. Can we expect the same stats out of him comparable to Santana? More than likely Alonso will not be close to those numbers, but they are hoping he can be comparable.
So, with all the departures, why have the Indians been so quiet in an off season that many thought they had moves to make. My best guess is they realize they are head and shoulders better than every team in the AL Central division. With that viewpoint, they do not feel like they need to make any additions to win their division, so why make panic moves, when they do not really know what their weaknesses will be. I believe they are going to play out half the season and re-evaluate their roster and the situation of the rest of the league closer to the trading deadline. I do believe they will go all-in on a trade if it benefits the team and is a reasonable deal for them. There is no reason to rush into moves at the moment, when they know they are going to handle their division. Do not expect many more moves if any from the Indians before the season. They have signed a few guys to spring training invites and a couple of them could make the roster moving forward. The Indians have the rest of their entire core still under contract, so this should be another fun season of baseball on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.