Indians should target Adrian Beltre in the offseason
I am seeing a lot of talk of what will happen for the Indians next year. Now, I am still enjoying this year, but it was a season that was always viewed as a bit of a bridge year.
The team lost major pieces in the rotation after last year and did not add a single starter. The Indians made smaller deals for guys coming off of down years hoping to get lucky and they rebound. Unfortunately, they did not, as instead both players - David Murphy and John Axford - struggled this season just to be average.
Instead, the Indians spent this season evaluating young arms both in the pen and in the rotation. The Indians focus was on seeing what they had and trying to develop those players. In the end, this has worked out extremely well. Not only has Corey Kluber been one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball, but Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer both came off the scrap heap to look like legit Major League pitchers.
On top of that, T.J. House came out of nowhere to be the first left-handed starter developed by the Indians to start 10 games in a season since Aaron Laffey. Danny Salazar disappointed to start the year, but came back strong and gives the Indians five young arms with potential that are years away from free agency.
Offensively it was also a big year as we have seen Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes and Carlos Santana make leaps to an elite level. All three guys are borderline top five players at their position in all of baseball.
In a recent piece on ESPN Insider, David Schoenfield made a great point. Since June 6th when Santana came back from injury he is second in all of baseball in home runs and while I find it a bad stat for those who like the RBI he is 8th over that span. Brantley has broken out in every way and become Trout-lite. He is an ideal number three hitter who both old and new school can agree on. Gomes is 6th in home runs, 3rd in OPS, and 5th in WAR among catchers. The Indians have lacked a right-handed bat with pop for so long, and Gomes is exactly that player and that is leaving out what he brings defensively in terms of pitch framing and runners thrown out.
The amazing thing about the current Indians is no one in this core is a free agent until after the 2017 season. Carlos Santana is the first scheduled free agent the Indians have a team option for at $12 million in 2017 which they will definitely pick up barring injury. This means the Indians have a three year window with the current core before they have to start hoping for the next generation of young players to start filling in the gaps.
I know some people will be down on the Indians but this is the second year in a row this team was contending deep into September. We have not seen a Cleveland team have back to back years contending for the playoffs since Lebron left. The big thing is the Indians are built around these young arms, which should get better. In terms of pure stuff I would match the Indians rotation against most of the top rotations in the league.
So how do the Indians improve themselves?
There is the issue of money which has been a hot topic on Twitter. I am fairly certain the Indians could have as much as $10-15 million to add in payroll this offseason.
The issue for the Indians is always money. This year they are second to last in attendance in spite of back to back good years. They have the lowest percentage of stadium filled in the majors and this was before the Lebron return. I am pretty sure the Indians are fully expecting another attendance drop next year. People complain that competing isn’t good enough even though other Cleveland teams fail to do it. The Indians are competing for dollars and a lot of them are now on the way to the Cavs. The other issue is the Indians signed a lot of young players, which is great but the escalators in those contracts will be ramping up. This will mean the Indians could add a major piece or they could add nothing and neither one would shock me.
If the Indians do have some space there is only one hitter that would be an ideal fit for the Indians. That player would be all-star third baseman Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers.
Beltre is signed for the next two years at $18 and $16 million each so he is not a rental which the Indians have showed a major aversion to. He would bring a right-handed bat which would help to balance out the Indians left-handed heavy lineup. On top of that just the change in defense at third from Lonnie Chisenhal to Beltre would be worth just shy of three wins based on dWAR.
The addition of Beltre would give the Indians three above average defenders in their infield, with only Kipnis rating below average. This would help the pitching staff especially for House who is more of a groundball guy. This would also allow the Indians to move Chisenhall in another deal or look to move him to the outfield were his defense might not be quite so much of a liability.
Now, why would the Rangers trade their star third baseman? Well the first reason is they are on track to get the first pick in the baseball draft. Yes, there were a ton of injuries and they could bounce back, but they could also see it as a time to get peak value as they enter a new stage.
Beltre will turn 36 next June and is at an age where players can suddenly fall apart. Beltre showed one of the signs of age this year as his home run total is about 60% of his last three year average. His splits are also a bit more drastic this year. In 2013 they were almost even, but in 2014 there is a 200 point difference in OPS but his road OPS is still approaching .800. In other words, he might be losing some steam, but he is still one of the better and most complete third basemen in baseball.
Another reason the Rangers might be willing to move Beltre is youth. Two years ago Jurickson Profar was the number one prospect in baseball and while he has been hurt this season he is penciled in to be the Rangers starting second baseman for the long haul. The only reason he is there and not at shortstop is thanks to Elvis Andrus who the Rangers locked up until 2022.
On top of those two players the Rangers have top prospect Rougned Odor who was a top 50 prospect to start the year that has spent most of the year in the majors. It could be a similar situation to when Jhonny Peralta originally came up for the Indians. Both were called up thanks to injuries in spite of extreme youth, and Peralta took another two years to make it back. Odor could be ticketed back to the minors, but if he is not then the Rangers need to be creative to find a place for him. One of those three players is likely the Rangers future answer at third base, or at least they will be the answer until Joey Gallo is ready - who is considered one of if not the best power hitting prospect in the minors.
The Rangers were at least willing to listen to offers for Beltre at the deadline, so this offseason I would expect him to be attainable for the reasons listed above. The question is what is the cost going to be and whether the Indians can take on all of Beltre’s salary which in turn might lower the cost to acquire him a little. The Indians could also look at trying to dump David Murphy on the Rangers. He is a known asset on a cheaper contract who might help lessen the blow to Ranger fans as they would be also getting a fan favorite back. This would also cut the added salary for the Indians down to $12 million which is very doable in terms of Indians additions.
Of course, the cost in terms of youth won’t be cheap. To sign a player of Beltre’s talent in free agency would cost the Indians a first rounder and I think the Indians would have to trade at least that much value to entice the Rangers to move their All-Star.
I would imagine the Indians would have to come out offering toolsy players which is what the Rangers organization value the most. I am sure the Rangers would love to add a starter, but the Indians just don’t have one to dangle here. Josh Tomlin is the closest thing they have but I am sure Texas would be afraid of what he would do home run-wise in their park. So instead of a ready starter, the arm I think they might be interested in is Cody Anderson. He would be the second piece in the deal; coming off a down year he still has the stuff to be a backend starter or pen arm. He was a top 10 guy coming into the year but in spite of the down year would still be right around the top 10 if not in it.
The center piece would have to be something bigger. I mean, think about it for a second, the Indians got James Ramsey for half a year of Justin Masterson. So to get Beltre I think it would cost Clint Frazier or more. I know there are fans already screaming at me that there is no way you trade him and his right-handed power potential. He has big time potential still and that is what would make him a fit for the Rangers. His prospect profile is similar to two rangers top prospects Joey Gallo and Lewis Brinson. They all show plus power but with some strikeout issues and pitch recognition issues.
But the Indians added a lot of outfield prospects this year in Bradley Zimmer, James Ramsey, Greg Allen andMike Papi. It allows them to consider moving Frazier who is three or four years away from helping and in turn they would get a payer who can help in this current three year window for the Indians. The cost of Anderson and Frazier is high, but it is the type of offer that the Rangers would have to consider.
In the end, that is the question for Indians fans. Would you rather get a known bat for the next two years or do you hold off and wait three to four years and hope Frazier pans out? It’s not an easy question at all, but for me I make the deal. I take the sure bat and trade a guy who is on the borderline of being a top 50 prospect.
The Indians have several top five top players and a clear three year window. They need to do everything they can to win now and thanks to the depth in the system it should allow the Indians to make a risk such as this one now.
Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
As I said before, I'd rather trade Kipnis over Ramirez or Chisenhall- yes, you'd be selling low on Kipnis, and there's a chance Kipnis could excel, but based on his track record, I don't see Kipnis ever being a major offensive force; I don't think he even has Chisenhall's bat. Combine that with the fact that Chisenhall could fill the RF hole that I don't think Murphy/Raburn will occupy next year, even if just to give more time for Moncrief or Ramsey to fill in the near future, and that's the reason I wouldn't trade Chisenhall., not unless it's something impactful. Beltre's age and having him for just two years would make me pause on trading Chisenhall + more, and especially guys like Ramirez, Lindor, Zimmerman, Bradley, etc. (I might consider Frazier in the right deal- maybe for Stanton if he proves to be the same hitter after the gruesome facial injury, but not so sure on Beltre due to his age, 2-year window and high cost/year).
Several ppl who follow the Indians and the farm system have told me that James Ramsey would put up numbers like .270, 17-70 if he played in RF everyday. I would take that if I didn't find the guy I want this winter. I would also try to work Aguilar in there somewhere or leave him AAA "WHEN" Swisher goes down. Indians have multiple options. I know alot of fans want to make all these trades and signings but not necessary, IMO
your universe is getting to the point where it's nonexistent. You have a finite amount of money(btw, very few FA's that fits what you're looking for) and if you do find one they will be asking for 3-4 year deals. ALso, you will find that the guy you're looking for is EXTREMELY difficult to find on the trade front and and i you do find them they will want half the farm system. I do like RIos and would give him a two year deal but he is aging and will probably want more than a two year deal.
Not saying that Trumbo is end all be all or the guy that I really want. I threw out his name because i think he could help and to give you a sense of what I was thinking. I would also be curious to what the Indians thought of their own guys and if they could help this team. If they were confident then use them and save the money for a rainy day.
Getting Giancarlo Stanton or someone like that is a pipedream, IMO
I'm with Tony in that we're not in any position to sacrifice defense for offense. Unless we dramatically improve the defense in other areas, any additional players must also bring a decent glove with them to Cleveland this offseason.
And yes, stay away from Mark Trumbo. While he may give us a few more home runs, his low BA and OBP would only create more problems in the lineup.
Crockett, Hagadone, Rzepcyznski, Atchison, Shaw, Lee, Allen, Adams: this is if the Indians don't add another RP. Ideally, I would like to push Cody back into the 8th inning role. Adams could be a pleasant surprise like a Rosenthal type out of the pen which would allow us to do exactly that.
Now Jeff makes a intriguing trade proposal that would benefit Indians and people go nuts we cant trade Frazier the price is to high. If the price is to high that means we are admitting that Frazier has higher ceiling potential than people are willing to give him credit.
Same could also be said about Cody Anderson.
That is the point of referring to him as 'Trout-Lite' instead of just comparing him to Trout. If a bit of power and defense is all that separates him, I'm pretty sure that makes Brantley 'Trout-Lite'.
thank you very much for telling me that. I will check out that article and if that does happen I would be very much in favor signing Reed and Trumbo.
If Swisher and Kipnis play up to their ability and track record, you sign Trumbo. You've increased your lineup to 60 HR's and 180 RBI's. With this pitching that would be amazing. Then you sign Reed. You put him as Closer and then Allen back as 8th inning guy. From that point all you have to do is focus on adding pitching at the AAA level in case of injuries. Probably 2-3 arms
In other words.. the Indians would do better if they trade for the Washington Nationals back up third baseman.. he'll run rings around beltre and his soon to be Seattle-like production...
Brantley is an elite hitter, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Mike Trout is beloved by "new school" types because he does *everything* well. He's miles ahead of Brantley as a defender (at a harder position), and has a history of being a much better runner (although that's not true this year).
Please, just say no.
This team is finally developing some talent depth. If there is a trade of that depth, it should be for more young talent. I trade Bourn and Murphy for whatever I can. I trade Kipnis for a couple of nice prospects. I make it know that a team with an extra young top flight starter can choose a package from Perez, Gonzalez, Frazier, Naquin, Holt, Anderson, Ramsey, any one of numerous releivers, and even Lindor if I really like the pitcher. Call the Giants and tell them they can have Kipnis for Adalberto Mejia and Mac Williamson. You can even throw in someone like Holt or Naquin if they like. Offer the same to the Blue Jays for Jeff Hoffman and Dalton Pompey. You get the idea anyway. The only way I center a deal around Lindor is if it is for somebody like Walker or Syndergaard. Otherwise no thanks.
Should the Indians try to sign the next available Cuban in the OF Tomas?
Mlbtraderumors.com, an article on Sat. by Steve Adams and Jeff Todd.
The article suggested, Trumbo, David Hernandez, Wade Miley, Cliff Pennington, and Addison Reed could be non tendered to keep under their salary threshold. That would allow them to make some key additions.
I'd gladly take anyone but Pennington, no need with Aviles, Sellers, etc.
Wouldn't mind a deal for Trumbo and Reed. That would meet two needs, the Dbax would want some big league ready talent back. Trumbo might be offer some RH thump and Reed another back of the BP arm, but it would be costly.
Santana is definitely better than Chris Davis and Gonzales (Offensively). He's definitely a borderline top 5 1B in the Majors. He's having a better year than Pujols too... Everyone else on your list though, I agree with you.
I really like the Murphy idea as well to offset some salary and it's not extremely unlikely that Texas wouldn't want him. I'm really hoping to see Chisenhall in the OF next year so that would open up an OF spot. Texas might even want Chisenhall in a package which, if I were the GM, would really have to listen to. I think there's other ways to get him other than Frazier.
All of that being said, I am a tad bit concerned about Beltre on both sides of the ball. Less so on defense, but he is starting to regress a little bit. He's very good, but you're not getting elite defense. According to the metrics, he had a bad defensive year in 2013, but he has bounced back this year... so that's promising. The .200 point difference in his OPS splits are concerning, but I don't see much regression yet. He's walking more and striking out less. Maybe it's just one of those years... He or V-Mart are what the Indians need to take the next step offensively. At least with Beltre, it's within the realm of possibility.
I'm going to look it up but if Trumbo is non tendered then I see no reason why he shouldn't be wearing a Tribe Uni. You need to depth in endure the season and with CWS, MIN, HOU and others having big time systems you will need to ALWAYS have a loaded system. Also, don't think in terms of 3-4 year spans. This team will always have some turnover so if you draft right you should be good for along time.
Chase Headley in FA? 2/$20? He doesn't add pop, but could solidify 3b for a cpl yrs, with Urshela given more time at AAA or becoming a trade chip.
We need value for value trades. We need to exchange left for right.
Indians are going to need to use some of their prospect depth to get "now" pieces. Francona has already shown he won't play these guys or will limit the amount of spots he has a young player. Hard to see Urshela or any reliever getting much of a shot to truly impact the team next year unless they are desperate. Their refusal to play Aguilar speaks volumes as to what kind of hitter and defender they believe he is.