The Cleveland Indians have not gotten off to the best off season start.
There have been multiple players leave in free agency and their pitching coach leave for a managerial position with the New York Mets.
While the Tribe still has a very good lineup and pitching staff, the losses they have suffered this winter certainly hurt.
Shaw was an important piece in the bullpens dominance over the course of the last few seasons. He primarily served as a set-up man for Andrew Miller and Cody Allen in the later innings. With a 3.52 ERA over 76.2 innings last year, it will be hard to replace his production and work load.
Carlos Santana was always a fan favorite in Cleveland ever since he came into the big leagues in 2010. He would always find a way on base as he was always at the top of the league in walks (113 in 2014) and OBP. His last few seasons in Cleveland, the power numbers increased as well, hitting a career high 34 in 2016. Santana was a staple at first base since 2015 where he owned a .995 fielding percentage. It was going to be hard for Cleveland to match the money he was asking for with Edwin Encarnacion now on the books; it is hard for a smaller market team to pay to players around $20 million a season.
As for Jay Bruce, it seemed to be a longshot of Cleveland resigning him. He expressed interest in returning to the Mets- which he did- in the offseason. With the team appearing to move on from Bruce already, it should come really as no surprise. With an already crowded outfield in addition to bringing back Michael Brantley, Bruce was likely on his way out. However, his name will be forever written in Indians history with his walk-off RBI double that gave Cleveland its 22nd straight win in a row, an MLB record.
Some affects may be felt by the loss of Shaw and more so by Santana, the Bruce departure should not hurt the team too much with Lonnie Chisenhall back in the fold and with Brantley’s team option picked up. If he can return to the productive player he is and stay healthy while doing it and if Bradley Zimmer can return to playing excellent defense in center field, the outfield situation should short itself out.
Shortly after Santana left for Philadelphia, Cleveland wasted no time in finding a first baseman as they signed Yonder Alonso. Over his eight year career, he is batting .268/ .340/ .407 with 67 homeruns.
It will be important for him to keep up his productivity and on base percentage as well improving on his power numbers. But the rest of the lineup is going to have to be productive in order to help Alonso.
With lots of off season left and spring training rapidly approaching, it will be interesting to see what moves Cleveland makes to bolster their already strong team.