CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Indians entered the offseason with the same goal for 2019 as they had in 2018 — to win a World Series.
But they’re operating under different conditions. There will be no increase in the franchise-record payroll from 2018. There will be no big free-agent signings and the 12 free agents that left them after Boston beat the Dodgers in Game 5 of the World Series in all probability aren’t coming back.
Still, the Indians know they have big holes to fill in the outfield and bullpen. To do that they’re going to attempt to thread the needle — trade one or two of their talented players to fill the holes and take another run at something the Indians haven’t won since 1948.
With a game plan like that, it is necessary to have a talented roster and the Indians do. Teams want to trade for the players on the Tribe’s roster, which has kept executives Chris Antonetti, Mike Chernoff and others busy.
Starting pitching is the crown jewel of the Tribe’s roster. They have frontline talent in Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer. They have potential in Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber and Adam Plukto and depth in Cody Anderson and Danny Salazar.
In the middle infield they have Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Jason Kipnis and Erik Gonzalez. The price for Lindor and Ramirez would be extravagant, but it doesn’t cost anything to listen. Yu Chang, who can play shortstop or third, is hitting well in the Arizona Fall League.
Several teams are looking for catchers and the Indians have veterans in Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez. Eric Haase is right behind them. The Indians hold club options on Gomes through 2021 and Perez through 2022. Perez is coming off a bad season, but he’s shown in the past that he can handle a pitching staff fulltime.
If a team is looking for power at DH or first base, they have that in Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso. Encarnacion is signed through 2019 with a club option for 2020. Alonso is signed through 2019 with a vesting option for 2020.
Encarnacion, making $20 million in 2019, will be hard to trade. Alonso will make $8 million. Yandy Diaz is waiting behind them and Bobby Bradley hit 24 homers in 97 games at Class AA Akron.
Now it just comes down to making the right deal. Something that is a lot easier said than done.