The Cleveland Indians have several big decisions to make this offseason regarding free agents. At this point, the organization must decide who is worth bringing back at what price. One player in particular the Indians must decide on is reliever Joe Smith.
The right-hander was one of the main bright spots in Cleveland’s bullpen in 2013. In fact, he led the team in earned run average (2.29) among relief pitchers who tossed more than 21 innings. He also posted a 6-2 record with a career-high 54 strikeouts, 25 holds and three saves in 70 appearances.
The Indians would be smart to bring Smith back considering how much of an asset he was for them throughout the season. The good news is Smith would love nothing more than to return to Cleveland in 2014.
“Definitely. They know it. They all know it,” Smith said, according to Indians.com. “Everybody in this clubhouse knows I want to be back. We’ll see how it goes. I’ve never been through it, so it’ll definitely be something new. I want to be back here. I don’t want that to be my last game.”
The feeling is mutual.
“We’d like to keep Joe with the Indians moving forward,” GM Chris Antonetti told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “and we appreciate the work that he’s done.”
The organization would be foolish not to want someone of Smith’s talent back on the team, especially when Cleveland’s bullpen numbers were decent because of his performance. The Indians’ relievers did combine for a 3.62 ERA, which ranked eighth in the American League. With that being said, they also were second in wins (33), fourth in innings pitched (516 2/3), fifth in strikeouts (500) and sixth in opponent batting average (.239).
At this point, it is just a matter of time until a deal is struck.