The Cleveland Indians have been busy since another early exit from the playoffs.
For the second straight postseason, Cleveland was bounced in the ALDS. In 2018, it was in three games.
Terry Francona’s ball club has had its name thrown around in plenty of trade conversations and rumors all while making a few trades of their own.
Let’s go over and talk about what moves Cleveland hasmade so far leading up to spring training.
Cleveland sends Encarnacion west; Santana gets to come home
This is the biggest trade Cleveland has been involved in thus far.
The main thing that the Indians front office is trying to do is get rid of some of the bigger contracts while keeping and getting back controllable talent.
Even though Santana’s $20-or-so million is guaranteed for 2019, Cleveland could look to move him after this season or re-sign him on a cheaper deal.
Cleveland received 1B/OF Jake Bauers from Tampa Bay and got Carlos Santana back from Philadelphia. Edwin Encarnacion went to Seattle and Yandy Diaz went to the Rays.
The Tribe get rid of Encarnacion’s big contract, while getting back a more versatile player in Santana who can mirror the production of Encarnacion.
Losing Yandy Diaz, who many thought could be the starting third baseman for Cleveland in ’19, hurts the most in this deal. In limited playing time, Diaz slashed .312/.375/.422 in 39 games last season.
Bauers can be slid in to play right or left field, but with the outfield slowly coming together, he figures to see most playing time at first. With Tampa Bay last season, he played 76 of his 96 games as the first baseman. There, Bauers committed five errors in 626.2 innings.
Cleveland gets young talent with club control and gets a happy ball player coming back to an environment in which he is comfortable in. The loss of Diaz can be looked over
Alonso traded to AL Central rival
Part of Cleveland’s attempt to dump some salary was to send Yonder Alonso to the south side of Chicago to the White Sox.
Alonso was signed by the Indians before the 2018 season to the tune of a two year/ $16 million deal. The former Seattle Mariner hit .250 with 28 home runs and 83 RBI last season.
This moves Alonso’s $8 million salary for 2019, giving Cleveland more flexibility to keep its rotation intact if it so chooses.
With the return of Santana and addition of Bauers, it made Alonso, in some ways, expendable. Bauers figures to get the bulk of playing time at first (Alonso’s primary position) with Santana being able to get time there, too.
In return, Cleveland gets outfield prospect Alex Call. Call has not seen time at the big league level, but was promoted to AA where he hit .242 with 12 homeruns in 123 games.
Gomes traded to the nation’s capital
In a relatively surprising move, All-Star catcher Yan Gomes was traded to the Washington Nationals.
With such little depth behind the plate, trading the starting catcher could be a risky move. Because of the trade of the club’s top prospect Francisco Mejia during the season, and now the trade of Gomes, it left just Roberto Perez and Eric Haase and the two backstops on the roster.
With Gomes being owed $7 million, $9 million, and $11 million over the next three years, this move held true when it came to Cleveland wanting to get rid of big contracts.
The Brazilian was named to his first all-star game, getting there by hitting .266/.313/.449 with 16 home runs. Behind the plate, Gomes is one of the best in the business. He threw out 20 would-be base stealers, which tied him for ninth in the league.
Cleveland gets reliever Jefry Rodriguez and minor league outfielder Daniel Johnson in return. Rodriguez appeared in only 14 games but posted a 5.70 ERA. Johnson had an impressive slash line in Double-A, going .267/.321/.410 with 19 doubles, 31 RBI, and 21 stolen bases. He can play right and center field.
Reinforcement for Gomes’ loss
Cleveland made a trade with the New York Mets to bring in catcher Kevin Plawecki.
Plawecki will platoon with Perez behind the plate after the Mejia and Gomes trades. He started 64 games, racking up a career-high 30 RBI while hitting .201.
Perez should be the Tribe’s starting catcher, but Plawecki caught some of the games best pitchers last season in NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. He will be working with, again, in some of the best pitchers in the MLB in Cleveland, with Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer.
His offense could help give Cleveland a boost from the catching position.
Clevland trades utility player for outfield help
Utility player Erik Gonzalez was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates to get some outfield help.
Gonzalez was a solid player, both at the plate and defensively, but there was no way he could crack the everyday starting line up with two All-Stars (Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez) on the infield.
Jordan Luplow gives Cleveland some outfield versatility with some many question marks there already. He posted a .185/.272/.359 slash line in 37 games. In two games played against the Indians last year, he went a combined 1-5 with one walk.
He can play either corner spot in the outfield, and made just one error last season.
Key pieces of 2018 team leave in free agency
These are not trades, let alone moves that the club had a say in. six key players from the 2018 roster are no longer with Cleveland, as they signed free agent deals elsewhere. Here is a quick run down of the notable losses in free agency.
Long time Cleveland Indian Michael Brantley added some salt to the wound from the ALDS exit as he signed a two-year deal with the Houston Astros. The three-time All-Star has been with Cleveland for his whole career, but the injury bug really got to him the last three seasons.
He hit .309 with 176 hits, 36 doubles, and 17 home runs in 143 games in 2018, his healthiest season since 2015.
Miller came over at the deadline in 2016 and the Indians rode his left arm to Game 7 of the World Series in the same year.
He only pitched in 37 games (34 innings) as he missed tons of time with multiple shoulder and knee injuries.
Miller signed a deal to go to the NL Central with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Much like Miller, Cody Allen was a big reason in Cleveland getting to Game 7 of the World Series in ’16.
Last season, Allen became Cleveland’s all-time saves leader in what was his worst season of his career. His ERA inflated to 4.70, an increase of 1.76 from the season prior. He also allowed the most runs of his career, in 35 and blew five saves.
Allen signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels.
Chisenhall will join Erik Gonzalez in Pittsburgh, as the outfielder signed a one-year contract.
He, like Miller, had somewhat of a lost season due to injury. He played in just 29 games and had 27 hits with a .321 average. He has spent all eight MLB seasons in Cleveland.
The 2015 AL MVP joined the Indians on the last day of the non-waiver trade deadline. He was expected to help the club make a deep run in the playoffs. It did not really pan out the way the front office expected to, however.
In 16 games (as he was still coming back from injury), he hit .280 with three homeruns. In the three playoff games, he had one hit in 11 at bats.
Someone who was a candidate to fill Cleveland’s void at third signed with the Atlanta Braves.
No Indians fan will ever forget Davis’ game tying home run in the World Series; that moment will love forever in Cleveland sports history, despite the result of the series.
Davis was a main piece in the outfield, especially in center, and was known for he speed, as he stole 21 bases.
He will help the Mets outfield situation, as Yoenis Cespedes is out until the middle of the season with a heel injury.
Davis’ one year deal is a minor league deal with a chance to make the big league roster.