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Indians favorites despite offseason departures | Les Levine

The Cleveland Indians have been active in the offseason, including finalizing a trade while the plane was taking off for Cleveland from the winter meetings in Las Vegas. And they probably aren’t done because the team’s front office usually makes deals before spring training instead of at the winter meetings.  

The Indians traded Yan Gomes, Edwin Encarnación, Yonder Alonso and Yandy Díaz, adding Jake Bauers and old friend Carlos Santana. Outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall joined the  Pittsburgh Pirates as a free agent, Michael Brantley signed with the Houston Astros and Rajai Davis signed with the New York Mets. That’s four contributing members of a team that won its third straight AL Central Division title and two backups in Chisenhall and Davis, now gone. Gomes, Chisenhall, Brantley and Davis were all contributing members of the 2016 team that nearly won the World Series.

With all the wheeling and dealing at the winter meetings, the Indians don’t look better on paper now. But they saved about $21.5 million in salary for the 2019 season, which could be used to obtain more talent and hold on to Trevor Bauer and two-time Cy Young Award-winner Corey Kluber. The good news is potential suitors for the two know the Indians aren’t in a hurry to give them away. The two right-handers are tremendous assets with club-friendly contracts. And the Indians still expect to win the American League Central, even if Kluber or Bauer aren’t on the team next season.

BROWNS HU(G)E SURPRISE

Perhaps the biggest story in the NFL is the Cleveland Browns rebounding from 1-31 in the two previous years under coach Hue Jackson to 6-7-1 entering the final two weeks of the season. They most likely will fall short of the playoffs, but they have the attention of the rest of the league and the television committee. As a result, next season they likely will have three or four games on Monday Night Football and Sunday Night Football, in addition to the mandatory Thursday night game.  

Interim Head Coach Gregg Williams is making it tough for General Manager John Dorsey to make a decision about next year’s coach and offensive coordinator. It has taken nearly 20 years, but the Browns have finally found a franchise quarterback in Baker Mayfield.  

What is more impressive is he can struggle like he did for much of the Dec. 15 game against Denver, but the team found other ways to win. In the 17-16 victory, it was the defense and running game, led by fellow rookie Nick Chubb, that held on until Mayfield got it together.

Greg Joseph kicked a 400-yard field goal and added two extra points in the win.

‘MORE SPORTS’ ON THE MOVE

“More Sports and Les Levine” moved from Spectrum Sports to cleveland.com, where it now can be seen live from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and the next 23 hours online.

Read Les Levine online at cjn.org/Levine. Follow Les at Facebook.com/Cleveland JewishNews. 

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