They could’ve been Indians.
With hindsight being 20/20, it’s easy to say “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda,” but these players were ripe for the Indians taking. They were within the organization’s price range and possessed tremendous upside, despite the risk involved.
Kazmir was the bigger punch to the gut, because he spent last year pitching for the Tribe. The reclamation project of GM Chris Antoninetti, Kazmir hadn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2011 when showed up in a Tribe uniform for Spring Training in 2013. He went on to pitch a solid comeback season, going 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA.
Kazmir showed flashes of what made him a two-time All-Star and posted a 3.38 ERA after the break. That body of work netted him a two-year, $22 million deal from Oakland.
Nelson Cruz entered free agency coming of a 50-game suspension for PED use. The market was obviously skeptical of the power hitter, because he didn’t finally sign a contract until just before Spring Training. Cruz ended up inking a one-year, $8 million deal with Baltimore, and all he’s gone on to do is lead the league with 27 home runs and 70 RBIs.
The Indians haven’t had a player hit 27 homers since Carlos Santana accomplished the fete in 2011–and that was for an entire season!
Cruz was the subject of Indians’ Hot-Stove talk, but the team never made a reported offer. It’s possible the Indians thought Cruz would command more than dollar amount he initially agreed to, so the club moved ahead and signed David Murphy early on in free agency. Murphy was supposed to platoon with Ryan Raburn, who earned a two-year extension after mashing his way through the 2013 campaign. We all know how that’s working out.
At $8 million, Cruz would’ve been the bargain Tribe management constantly searches for.