The Indians are looking to shed payroll this winter and are reportedly open to trading one of their top starting pitchers, and the Dodgers are among the teams that are interested in Cleveland’s assets.
According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the Indians and Dodgers have had ongoing trade discussions that are likely centered around Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco.
Sources: #Dodgers and #Indians trade talks remain ongoing this week, as @Ken_Rosenthal first reported. If a deal is reached, a Cleveland starter — Kluber, Carrasco or Bauer — likely would go to L.A. @MLBNetwork @MLB
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 29, 2018
In addition to the Dodgers, Morosi reports that the Brewers and Braves have also inquired about the Indians’ arms.
#Brewers and #Braves are two more potential trade partners for #Indians if they move a starter. ATL and CLE *are not* in active talks but Braves have power arms (e.g., Wright) to move. Brewers have outfielders (Ray, Broxton), an area of need for CLE. @MLBNetwork @MLB
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 29, 2018
Kluber is scheduled to make $17 million in 2019, which sounds like a bargain after he finished third in Cy Young voting this season. The 32-year-old posted a 20-7 record and a 2.89 ERA after going 18-4 record with a 2.25 ERA in 2017. He has club options of $15.5 million and $16 million in 2020 and 2021, so the return for him would have to be very significant.
The Indians are also said to be looking to deal some of their top position players, so it would be a surprise if they don’t make a big move at some point.
The MLB offseason is already underway, as proven by the New York Yankees’ major acquisition of James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners. Still, the largest dominoes have yet to fall, and it may be another week or two — if not more — before that begins happening.
Thus, teams are, in a sense, still positioning themselves for the offseason. Payrolls are being plotted and free agents are being explored, while the trade market begins to come to life as well. But some teams, for a variety of reasons, need to be more active than others given the places where their franchises are.
Here are ten teams who are facing very important offseasons for the future of their franchise.
10. San Francisco Giants
The Giants find themselves in a precarious position a year after an eventful offseason saw them go all-in to contend in 2018. They ended up losing 89 games thanks to injury and underperformance from some of their bigger names. Now, new president Farhan Zaidi is tasked with charting a path forward. How he handles this offseason could tell us a lot. The Giants can spend if they want to, but it seems unlikely that another free agent will put them over the top. Such a signing could ultimately hinder them in the long run. Alternately, they could try to dismantle some of their valuable pieces, but that would prove controversial. It’s a big decision that will have long-lasting impacts.
The Cleveland Indians are facing some financial constraints heading into the 2019 season, and they may have to part ways with one or more of their core players in order to keep their payroll where it needs to be.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Indians will listen to trade offers this winter for several of their veteran players, most notably 2017 Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber. They will also field calls from teams interested in starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco, slugger Edwin Encarnacion and second basmeman Jason Kipnis.
Kluber is scheduled to make $17 million in 2019, which sounds like a bargain after he put together another Cy Young-caliber season in 2018. The 32-year-old finished with a 20-7 record and a 2.89 ERA after posting an 18-4 record and 2.25 ERA in 2017.
Encarnacion, who belted 32 homers and drove in 107 RBI this season, will turn 36 this winter and is owed $21.67 million in 2019. It makes sense that the Indians want to unload him, and the same could be said for the 31-year-old Kipnis, who is on the books for $14.7 million and hit a career-low .230 in 147 games.
Kluber has club options of $15.5 million and $16 million in 2020 and 2021, so there should be plenty of teams interested in the right-hander.
The Indians are also not expected to extend qualifying offers to several top free agents this winter, so they could have a much different look when the 2019 season begins.
The Cleveland Indians may be in for some roster shuffling this offseason.
The Indians are not planning to extend qualifying offers to some of their top impending free agents. The Athletic’s Zack Meisel reported on Friday that they will not be extending qualifying offers to Michael Brantley, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.
The Indians are not extending qualifying offers to Michael Brantley, Andrew Miller, Cody Allen or anyone else.
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) November 2, 2018
Miller, 33, was a dominant force for the Indians in 2016 and 2017, but he wasn’t the same in 2018. He went 2-4 with a 4.24 ERA and 1.38 WHIP.
Allen, 29, was a valuable part of the team’s excellent bullpen and had 122 saves with a 2.69 ERA from 2012-2017. Similar to Miller, he tanked last season, going 4-6 with 27 saves with a 4.70 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.
Brantley, who turns 32 in May, had a nice season batting .309 with 36 doubles and 17 home runs. But the Indians are not planning to bring him back on the qualifying offer price.
The qualifying offer price for 2019 is expected to be just under $18 million. In the past, teams could mostly count on players turning down qualifying offers to pursue long-term contracts, but after so few players got the long-term deals they were seeking last offseason, there is a greater risk of players accepting their qualifying offers.
- Cleveland Indians
MLB released the scheduled game times for the remainder of the division series round of the playoffs, and the schedule did not go over well with Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians fans.
The Indians and Astros are scheduled to play on Friday, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. They play on the same days as the other ALDS, which features the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. MLB does not want the games to overlap, so they have to make a choice about who plays early and who plays late. In every case, the Astros-Indians series is scheduled to be the early game, while the Yankees and Red Sox are scheduled for later in the evening — the primetime slots. Not one Astros-Indians game is scheduled to start later than 4:37 pm ET.
MLB has announced all game times for Indians-Astros ALDS
Game 1: 2:05 pm ET (Fri)
Game 2: 4:37 pm ET (Sat)
Game 3: 1:30 pm ET (Mon)
Game 4: 4:35 pm ET (Tue)
Game 5: 4:07 pm ET (Thu)
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) October 4, 2018
The schedule reveal led to some criticism from a Cleveland media member:
I understand the national appeal of NYY-BOS, but for MLB not to grant HOU-CLE even one primetime game is a massive misstep. Grow the game by sharing its widespread talent, w/ two rosters loaded w/ stars like Lindor, Ramirez, Correa, Bregman, Altuve, Kluber, Bauer, Verlander, Cole
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) October 5, 2018
Multiple fans also grumbled about the seeming lack of respect for the Astros and Indians.
Not even one primetime game??? Cmon mlb that's disrespectful to astros fans and Indians fans
— Dakota Lehigh (@LehighDakota) October 5, 2018
— Don Fowler (@donf0615) October 5, 2018
— Brad Borgione (@47BradB) October 5, 2018
— • Shelbeee Lynn (@ShelbyyLyynn_) October 5, 2018
— Mr. K (@dk2day87) October 5, 2018
I’m trying to figure out why Indians-Astros don’t have one single primetime game for this series! Absolutely ridiculous! #MLBPostseason
— Mike C (@mikecoutee94) October 5, 2018
The anger from the fans is understandable. Both teams have excellent players and have had recent success. The fans of both teams are passionate and excellent overall. But there is no bigger rivalry in baseball than the Red Sox and Yankees. There is no bigger draw than these two teams meeting in the postseason. It’s a dream for MLB and its TV partners to have the opportunity to televise this series, so of course they’re going to put it in primetime. MLB is making the right call here. The winner of the Indians-Astros series will have plenty of opportunities to be in primetime later.
We’re into the home stretch of baseball season, and the month of September will settle the playoff races. There are plenty of teams still in it, even if the American League picture looks mostly settled, but the races promise to be exciting.
There are, however, no flawless teams. Every contender has a weakness that can be exploited, albeit some more obvious than others. Looking at teams who are presently within three games of a playoff spot — sorry, Philadelphia — here’s the Achilles’ heel that could trip up each team down the stretch or in the postseason.
Arizona Diamondbacks — Run-scoring
In a pivotal weekend series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Diamondbacks scored just nine runs across four games, three of which they lost by one run. That sums up where Arizona’s challenge lies. Only six National League teams have scored fewer runs than Arizona has this season. It’s odd to see a lineup with Paul Goldschmidt in it struggling this much, but he, David Peralta, and A.J. Pollock are the only three Diamondbacks hitting above .250.
Josh Donaldson is reportedly more than a week away from joining the Cleveland Indians for game action.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Indians plan to put the newly-acquired third baseman on the 10-day disabled list and send him back on a rehab assignment, as he had been doing with the Toronto Blue Jays before they dealt him.
#Indians planning to place Donaldson on DL, source tells The Athletic. Would go on rehab assignment, be out minimum of 10 days and miss series in Toronto at end of this week.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) September 3, 2018
Donaldson had to be certified as healthy to go on revocable trade waivers. #Indians had to be comfortable with his medicals to acquire him. But another rehab assignment always was likely. Donaldson has played total of 11 minor-league innings since last MLB appearance on May 28.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) September 3, 2018
As Rosenthal notes, it ensures Donaldson won’t make Cleveland’s scheduled trip to Toronto this coming weekend. It also means the earliest Donaldson could be activated and called up would likely be sometime around the middle of next week.
Cleveland probably would’ve preferred to get Donaldson to the majors as quickly as possible so they can sort out their defensive alignment with him around and get that working before the playoffs start. They are looking like they won’t have a ton of time to do so now.