These are not the same old Cleveland Indians. On Friday the team made another bold move as they signed second baseman Jason Kipnis to a six-year deal, meaning in the last two months the club has signed Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes and now Kipnis to deals that will keep them around for years to come.
The club now has 16 of the 25 players on the roster inked through the 2016 season. The Indians have set themselves up with a window that can make them a contender and one that can have them very competitive with a core of players the franchise has not seen since the mid 1990s. “When I got drafted here by the organization they were in a little bit of a rut,” Kipnis said Friday. “I wanted to be part of the transformation to turn this organization around, part of a group of players that could put their foot down and get this going in the winning direction.”
The credit for the young core the team has not only has to go to GM Chris Antonetti and assistant GM Mike Chernoff, but the owners of the franchise in the Dolans also deserve some kudos. They have shelled out a lot of money just in the last two months to secure three players they think will be a big part of the culture change of the franchise. “It’s exciting knowing that we are going to be here for awhile now,” Gomes said on Friday. “Some peak core guys are going to be here, so we’re making the right moves.”
Another huge addition that was made to make the change in that culture is manager Terry Francona. He’s pushed a number of right buttons in the last year since he came aboard in October of 2012, and bringing in veteran players like Jason Giambi and Ryan Raburn after teams had basically given up on them shows just the type of players he wants in Cleveland and in the Indians locker room.
Make no mistake there’s work to be done as this young team continues to try and get better. They do still need to get ace Justin Masterson inked to a new deal before he reaches free agency this offseason. They also have to avoid something that tends to hurt young teams — overconfidence. That’s where a seasoned manager like Francona comes in, and if the way he managed the team last season is any indication, this Indians team is going to be good for some time to come.