The Cleveland Indians have just lost in the ALDS to the Houston Astros and now enter an earlier offseason than the team would have liked. There are a lot of moves that the Indians need to make for the next season in order to keep up with the rest of the MLB.
It all starts with coaching, and overall I think everybody is retained except for one coach. Ty Van Burkleo has to go. Van Burkleo has been the hitting coach for the Indians since the 2013 season. While people have seen the power numbers skyrocket, the bats in the playoffs have been downright putrid for the last two seasons. I just think it is time for Van Burkleo and the Indians to part ways and for the Indians to find a new coach to help this team go deep in the playoffs.
The major 2019 Indians free agents include Michael Brantley, Leonys Martin, Josh Donaldson, Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, and Lonnie Chisenhall. The Indians have about $93 million on the payroll for next season
The Indians should try to bring back at least three of the main six. Donaldson and Brantley are set to get rather large contracts around the $12-18 million range. Cody Allen and Andrew Miller due to their recent struggles will likely see a fall in their market value which could lead to the Indians being able to resign one or even both of them. Although having Brad Hand does make it easier to let one of them go.
Leonys Martin is a wildcard because of what the Indians have in young centerfielders. The Indians will be getting back Bradley Zimmer late into the 2019 season. Zimmer went under shoulder surgery in late July and is out eight-twelve months. The Indians also have the young speedster Greg Allen who performed decently well in his time in the bigs this season, but not enough to separate himself from the pack. The Indians should bring back Martin just to bring some stability to the centerfield position and he will likely not cost a ton based on his illness that he sustained earlier this season.
Some other names outside of the Indians that the team could go after would include DJ Lemahieu, Eduardo Escobar, and Andrew McCutchen. With Lemahieu, the Indians could bring in the all-star second baseman and move Jose Ramirez back to third base. Lemahieu’s market value is going to be around $12-15 million and would likely be out of the Indians price range but if free agency goes down like last year, the market will drop dramatically.
Escobar had a tremendous season as all Indians fans saw against them this season. After being traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Escobar played up to what was expected from him. Escobar would likely cost $8-9 million for the season and is definitely in the Indians price range for the upcoming season. The final name is Andrew McCutchen, the right/left fielder and former MVP. In case the Indians cannot resign Brantley and McCutchen could take over in left field in the absence of Brantley. There are also some relievers that the Indians can go after and it will be easier to tell once the MLB postseason ends.
Overall, I think the Indians will go out and try to restock this team with both in and out of house free agents. It is going to be a long road back for the Indians to have a chance in the stacked AL, but I think they can if the front office and Terry Francona make the right moves. Check back later this week for part II of this “What do the Indians do now” series.