Complacency. That was the one thing I was genuinely afraid of as the Cleveland Indians headed into the current offseason. I was nervous the team would see barely missing the postseason as proof only a couple minor tweaks were needed. This, of course, is inaccurate, as coming up short on a wild card berth was more due to the fact the American League was relatively weak, and an Indians team which was under .500 for most of the season almost cashed in.
Cleveland badly needed to ignore how this season ended, choosing against minor additions and attempting to instead try to make major acquisitions. The team needs offense, and has pieces it can utilize to get it. With a couple big bats added to the lineup, the Indians would finally be the contenders Sports Illustrated predicted them to be last year.
However, just a few days into MLB Winter Meetings, it doesn’t look like much has changed with Cleveland’s typical offseason mindset. Notable names have been rumored, but rumors are about as far as anything has gone. Once again, it looks like the Tribe has no interest in making any sort of big moves.
There are many reasons why a quiet Cleveland offseason is incredibly frustrating.
First of all, the names linked to the team as “possible targets” could all be potentially significant pickups. Players like Pedro Alvarez or Chris Carter have been tied to the Indians, and both could add significant strength to a relatively weak batting order. Yesterday’s big rumor surrounding a potential trade for Cincinnati Reds slugger Todd Frazier certainly got the Cleveland fan base excited.
However, all three rumors have fizzled. Interest in Alvarez and Carter has reportedly waned, and talks regarding Frazier have died down due to the Reds’ reportedly high asking price.
It should be noted I don’t think the Indians need to sell the farm for the first decent player who becomes available. Additionally, the team doesn’t have to overpay for any free agent just to say it spent big in the offseason. Fans don’t need to see another Nick Swisher–Michael Bourn scenario.
At the same time, something has to be done to add power to the lineup, and the Tribe doesn’t seem interested in pursuing anyone too seriously.
What’s additionally trying about the Indians yet again appearing uninterested in making a splash is it makes them seem way too nervous about making any sort of risk.
Cleveland has a loaded starting rotation, and word is one of the team’s pitchers could be had at the right price. Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar are both popular names in the rumor mill. However, any time one of their names gets tied to a trade scenario, the talks inevitably die down.
Neither player should just be given up for the sake of making a deal, as a trade for either should net good returns at the very least. But you also can’t help but get the feeling the Tribe is only putting feelers out about potential Carrasco or Salazar deals, with no legit intent to move either unless the other team is getting fleeced.
Unfortunately, this mentality isn’t going to yield too much success for the Indians. If they want to acquire talent, they need to make peace with the fact it’ll likely require one of their pitchers in return. At the moment, the team doesn’t seem as interested in this as everyone thinks.
There’s plenty of time left for Cleveland to do something of significance. Right now, though, the vibe seems to be the team is taking the same approach as it has the past couple years. Still feeling the burn of overpaying for guys like Swisher and Bourn, the Indians front office appears apprehensive to make anything more than minor acquisitions, keeping the hope that the team can contend as is.
However, this strategy ignores the fact Cleveland has regressed in each of the two seasons following the unsuccessful 2013 wild card game. The front office can bet on the current roster, avoiding any sort of sizable deal under the belief last year’s rough start was a fluke. With this team, though, not taking a risk is a risk in itself.