The Cleveland Indians are in no hurry to throw money at free agents, and neither are some rival AL Central clubs, leaving the window open for the Tribe in 2019.
The Cleveland Indians have disappointed their fan base by cutting back payroll this season, but they’re not the only ones scaling things back in the AL Central.
The leader of the Twins’ baseball brass, Derek Falvey, recently discussed his team’s decision to shed around $25 million in payroll.
Rather than spend, Falvey put on an emphasis on developing in-house talent.
His words should sound particularly familiar to Tribe fans because Falvey is a branch of the Mark Shapiro, Chris Antonetti tree.
Falvey was the Tribe’s assistant general manager before leaving for Minnesota to take on the president of baseball operations gig with the Twins.
They have just around $94 million committed to their roster and will probably inch closer $100 million mark as they tweak their roster before spring training. Even with a few additions, their payroll will be well south of the expected $118 million average next season.
And the thing is, the Twins are being viewed by some as the Indians’ top competition in the Central this season.
They added productive players in Nelson Cruz and Jonathan Schoop. Cruz got $14 guaranteed dollars, but the Twins spent just around $5 million to lock up a handful of other free agents, including Schoop.
Based off what general manager Thad Levine said, the Twins view the Indians to be the favorite, via The Star-Tribune.
"“I would say we’re laying in wait right now,” said Levine, who is entering his third season as the Twins’ general manager. “The best moves are made not when you’re trying to open the window to contend, but when the window is wide open. We’re very eagerly waiting for this window to be opened, and when it is, we plan on striking.”"
Frustrating for Twins fans, no doubt, because the Indians are not as good as they were a season ago.
The Tigers are also another team not spending, but they’re in a different phase of transition. They’re still on the hook for Miguel Cabrera, paying $30 million next season.
They’re signing bridge players to short contracts that will eventually get them to the point they’ll be able to start spending again.
Detroit, a team which once hovered around the $200 million payroll mark, won’t look to spend again until 2021, or possibly 2022, according to general manger Al Avila.
From an Indians perspective, the weakest division in baseball will be there for the taking again, as the Tribe, far-and-away, boasts the best rotation in baseball.
As covered exhaustively on The Factory of Sadness, the bullpen and outfield are worse, but the rotation is good enough to ensure the Tribe wins its fourth straight AL Central crown.