as Michael Brantley signs with the Houston Astros, the Cleveland Indians are left worse off as major outfield needs continue to plague the Tribe.
The Cleveland Indians are officially much worse than they were last season, as Michael Brantley reportedly signed a two-year $32 million with the Houston Astros.
Brantley’s contract is a tough pill to swallow for Tribe fans. It’s short and not an excessive sum by MLB standards.
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The Indians paid him $12 million last season. Why not just give him the $4 million raise? He did hit .309 (.832 OPS) en route to earning his third trip to the mid-summer classic. And in case you’ve been allergic to the news lately, outfield is a HUGE position of need.
Unfortunately, the Indians never gave serious consideration to trying to re-sign any of their free agents, according to Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes.
The edict this offseason, which has been successfully carried out by the front office to this point, is to pair back payroll.
The only MLB ready players the Indians got in return for those deals is Jake Bauers, who hit .201 in 96 games with the rays. Carlos Santana is also back, but he’s not the same threat at the plate as Encarnacion was.
The writing was on the wall with Brantley when the Indians did not extend the $17.9 million qualifying offer. They clearly thought Brantley might take the offer because the total would be worth more than he would get on the open market.
The Indians were right. Great. They still need a left fielder.
Multiple members of the media are also suggesting that the Tribe’s recent salary dumps afford the team the room to keep both Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. Kluber’s due $17 million next season, while Bauer could earn between $10-$12 million arbitration.
However, wasn’t the whole lure of moving one of those players based on the idea that the Indians would get young players that are either MLB ready, or close to being big leaguers, that could keep the Tribe in contention heading into the next decade?
Nobody likes the idea of trading a Cy Young Award winner, or Bauer, who probably wouldn’t won the hardware this offseason had he not got hurt.
But starting pitching is the only place the Indians have a surplus of talent.
There’s still time for the Indians to swing a move and it would surprise nobody to hear the news of a trade that was conceived at last week’s winter meetings.