The Cleveland Indians have made several changes to their big league roster this winter, but one thing it appears they aren't doing is using their rotation strength to augment other areas of the squad.
Indeed, the buzz surrounding a potential Corey Kluber deal is all but gone.
It's not like having Kluber around is going to hurt the team. He's one of the best pitchers in the game. But it's worth noting that the Tribe also dangled right-hander Trevor Bauer on the trade market and were unsuccessful. Both are under club control for several more years, but it made a lot of sense for them to move one of them while their values were highest with an eye toward enhancing the roster top to bottom.
They did, however, trade first baseman and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion. His loss leaves a huge hole in the middle of their lineup, and there's nothing Carlos Santana is going to do to change it.
Fast Francisco Lindor recovery is paramount for Indians | Opinion https://t.co/drLrdwdkR3— The Morning Journal (@MorningJournal) February 11, 2019
Speaking of offense, the Indians lineup took a huge hit now that the face of their franchise, shortstop Francisco Lindor, is due to miss 7-9 weeks after suffering a calf strain. He might not miss much time in the regular season, but they had better hope he's 100 percent before he tries to come back. This is the kind of injury that can linger and be a problem for most of the season. Cleveland can't afford Lindor playing at anything less than an MVP level.
As it stands, the Tribe have given themselves a margin for error that's far too narrow for comfort.
PECOTA thinks the #Indians can score the third-most runs in the AL with a lineup of Lindor/JoRam/Santana and little else. I’m dubious, but if this is what the #Twins are looking at, that might explain their unwillingness to go over $100 million payroll. Nope, I still hate it. pic.twitter.com/N2ydgMVziz— Nathan Dokken (@NathanDokken) February 7, 2019
The PECOTA projections just came out, and they have the Indians winning 97 games and taking AL Central once again. With the division being as weak as it is, it's not crazy to think that they'll be division champs, but 97 wins?
The Indians made a lot of changes and they are already dealing with an injury to their best player. This could be a sign of things to come for Cleveland in 2019, and it might end with them sitting at home watching the postseason.