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Storylines: Salary commitments could limit Indians

Storylines: Salary commitments could limit Indians
October 9, 2014
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Top Stories

  • The Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles have been in purgatory as far as it pertains to any playoff chances for numerous years. The Royals haven’t been in the postseason since 1985 and the Orioles haven’t advanced this far since 1983. Both teams will be facing each other on Friday and will finally get the chance to make history by advancing to the World Series for the first time in two decades for either team. Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer have been the clutch hitters for the Royals throughout the playoffs along with their tough rotation and bullpen headlined by James Shields and Greg Holland. The Orioles do not have as strong a rotation or bullpen as the Royals but they do have a lineup that can outhit almost any team in baseball. The signing of Nelson Cruz is possibly one of the best offseason signings in baseball history by Baltimore as he is having an MVP season with 40 homers and 108 RBI.Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are also adding clutch hitting and power to the lineup. This should be an exciting series with a lot of highlights and memories to follow.

Tribe News 

  • Nick Swisher has won the Bob Feller Act of Valor award. Los Angeles Dodgers HOF manager Tommy Lasorda and Senior Chief Petty Officer Carl Thompson of the U.S. Navy were also recipients.

  • According to's Jordan Bastian, the Indians have about $72-75 million in salary committed to 2015 with returning players under contract and predicted costs in arbitration. If they operate under a similar budget they have the last two years at $80-85 million, then they have about $8-13 million to spend this offseason.

Other News and Notes 

  • Giancarlo Stanton will earn around $13 million as he goes through arbitration for a second time.
  • Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest reports that catcher J.P. Arencibia and third basemen Kevin Kouzmanoff have chosen free agency over outright assignments by the Texas Rangers.
  • According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Colorado Rockies have promoted Jeff Bridich to GM after the unexpected resignations of Dan O’ Dowd and Senior VP Bill Geivett.
  • Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Houston Astros payroll could increase by $20 million. The money could possibly be used in other ways than signing free agents.
  • Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Brian Wilson will exercise his player option for next season. It is said to be worth $9.5 million.
  • According to George A. King III of the New York Post, the New York Yankees will not pursue Cuban defector Yasmany Tomas.
  • According to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish, Ryan Dempster is officially going to retire.
  • Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that Los Angeles Dodgers GM Ned Colletti’s job security is in question after losing to the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday. This is the second year in a row they haven’t advanced to the World Series.
  • The Texas Rangers have interviewed Pittsburgh Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister and Chicago White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing for the manager position.

User Comments

Sam C
October 10, 2014 - 8:47 AM EDT
We all know that when you go after free agents of any sort, that you are taking a calculated risk on a player. Sometimes you are merely extending your current players as well. But the biggest problem over the years is the front office continues to take risks on the wrong guys. Basically, throwing good valuable money at overvalued players. Just in recent memory, there was a 3 yr deal to David Dellucci. There was also a 3 yr deal to Matt Lawton. There was a trade where they took a sure thing in LF (Coco Crisp) & traded him to the Bosox for an unproven (turned out to be a dud) 3B in Andy Marte and then brought in career back-up OF Jason Michaels to be every day LF. Then there was the Travis Hafner extension at the All-Star break in a year where he was hitting an abysmal .230ish with little power plus having issues with his shoulder. To Rofausto Carnandez' contract extension after only 1 good year when he couldn't even take them to arbitration And now fast forward to now, where they threw a 2 yr contract at Raburn, who some would say big deal it's just for 2 yrs at 5 million total. I would say it is a big deal, when we can pay Tyler Holt 500K a yr (saving 4M over 2 yrs) to produce Raburn-esque stats, for a team that is cash strapped. Also, paid Murphy, another career back up OF coming off of a .230 yr in 2013, 6M avg for 2 yrs to be a regular plus the 2 crippling contracts for Bourn & Swisher, who even if they hit like they are capable, their production still won't match the value of their contracts. My point is that it doesn't matter how much the Dolans allow Shapiro & Antonetti to spend because if they continue to evaluate the talent so poorly the vicious cycle will continue.
October 10, 2014 - 6:48 AM EDT
@Clay I've personal dealt with the Dolans and they are cheap people. Not saying that with someone else as owner pur payroll would be massively different but clearly this is the indians window of opportunity to win and someone else owning the team might throw 20-30 million at it. Not saying him but someone like Dan Gilbert but he wouldn't be approved as an MLB owner. Also how many of the best players in baseball are Cuban, why not consider it if he looks good. He's a power right handed corner outfielder. I'd take someone of Puigs, Abreu or Cespedes talent or near it any day even if it cost 5-6 years and 80-100 million. How much better would our line up be with a power right handed bat?
October 10, 2014 - 6:01 AM EDT
Stanton to me has to prove being beaned will not impact him.
October 10, 2014 - 4:29 AM EDT
I don't know what's more aggravating.

The stupid argument that a new owner automatically means they'll spend trillions upon trillions of dollars in order to prove that the Dolan family doesn't like puppies. Or baseball. Whatever.

Or the augment that the Dolans are cheap because the Indians don't spend recklessly on FA and give untested Cuban players massive contracts that eclipse most any deal the club has handed out in its own history.

That or the argument that attendance will just go up when the team spends more money. Well it didn't work so well in 2013 after giving out the two largest deals in club history.

The Dolans are to Jacobs as Jhonny Peralta was to Omar Visquel. There's a lot of revised history there and unwarranted hate because they're different in so many ways.
Vic Venom
October 9, 2014 - 8:56 PM EDT
You're telling me that if Indians got a new owner and lets say got a new president and gm and wanted to spend BIG TIME DUCKETS, that attendance wouldnt go up? Give me an owner that will shell out the dough for big time hitters. I want an owner that will go after Stanton and pay him HUNDREDS of millions. I want owner that will go get me a Yosmani Thomas and dish out 70-80 million. It's a joke that the Tribe have never even had a guy with a hundred million dollar contract.
Vic Venom
October 9, 2014 - 8:52 PM EDT
If they dont want to bring up Naquin then Tribe should sign Ichiro to play RF. Have him get about 550 AB'S and see if he can get 3,000 hits with the Indians. Imagine the STO specials, new marketing campaigns, Ichiro 3000 hit bobblehead figures.
October 9, 2014 - 5:37 PM EDT
Note to the author: The indians played the Orioles in the ALCS in 1997.
October 9, 2014 - 4:04 PM EDT
$8-13 million to play with? Ouch.
matt underwood
October 9, 2014 - 2:38 PM EDT
im not even upset with the Dolans. they opened up their wallet more than they ever have and gave contracts out to players that were more than anything Jacobs signed off on. good job Dolans for that.

my issue are the two morons deciding how to spend the money - shapario and antonetti.

if i am the Dolans, i would beside myself with anger thinking "all these years fans have called us cheap, we take your advice and spend insane amount of money and years to players and this is what you come up with??!! get the hell out of here - there is the door."
October 9, 2014 - 12:44 PM EDT
Yeah, Walter. All the worst GMs sounds good to me. Getting to the world series is a crap shot. If all the teams were in a playoff system ,occasionally the team with the worst regular season record in baseball would get hot and win the world series. Baseball is about the long haul not short series. Remaking roster based on getting eliminate from a short series is ridiculous and does more harm than good,
Free Agency has helped player's salaries escalate and increase fan expectation, but generally does not yield results. The Orioles got luck this year. Most of the other teams not so much. Adding salary in the offseason or in mid-season does not necessarily mean championship re: the Blue jays, A's, Angels and Yankees and to some extend the Tigers. All big spenders in the free agent market in past years or added salary for the playoff push.
Today hero is in all to many cases tomorrows bum Josh Hamilton, Joe Votto , Nick Swisher, Jimmenez, Pujlois, Howard and Jose Reyes to name only a few - most because of injuries but still. When you land a Cruz , Batustia, or Yan Gomes you are truly fortunate. Not sure how much skill or how much luck is involved in inquiring/retaining players - probably 60-40. Hindsight is much better than foresight. Next season Kipnis could have a break out year or maybe be so bad he has to be replaced/released. Same goes for anyone else on the roster. Making up does not count for much Jody Gerut and Jeremy Sower are two players who I heard had great makeup and intelligence to make adjustments, but neither really had success after their initial season. But speculation is fun and that is why we play the games.
October 9, 2014 - 12:12 PM EDT
FA expenditures should be kep at a minimum. This club can only compete by making shrewd trades, drafting well, developing its own talent, and by making smart FA signings (ie: under mkt values / short terms). The Tribe has to create unique opportunities and seize them when they have the opportunity. That is, intentionally create depth, for example with bullpen arms, middle infield or even at C. Positions of value and need. Moreover, the future of the Indians lies heavily on their ability to identify and develop talent and not in their ability in talent acquisition through large expenditures.
October 9, 2014 - 10:24 AM EDT
Hiram, their first three years as owners the Dolans had the three highest club payrolls in franchise history at the time.
October 9, 2014 - 10:15 AM EDT

it's an adversarial relationship because let's face it... Dolans did hardly anything for the first 10-12 years they were owners of this team too. Then openly admitted they overpaid(NO ONE TOLD YOU, YOU HAD TO BUY THE TEAM)... In saying that. Now that they are a good team they should be getting more support
October 9, 2014 - 10:13 AM EDT
I think a sharp eye could get what the Indians need this off season both with trades(Donaldson), non tenders(Viciedo and Smoak), AAA starting pitching and utility guy if you don't bring back Aviles
October 9, 2014 - 9:57 AM EDT
Hard to complain about ownership spending when attendance is league worst and TV revenues are near league bottom. I'd imagine they are near league bottom in other revenues (advertising, concessions, parking, merchandise, etc).
October 9, 2014 - 9:52 AM EDT
Yankee fans believe Cashman is the worse GM in baseball.

Phillies fans believe Amaro is the worse GM in baseball having a huge payroll and old team.

Rockies fans believe they had the worse GM in baseball until he resigned yesterday.

Reds fans believe Walt Jocketty is worse GM in baseball for signing huge contract extensions to Votto and Bailey that has tied up payroll flexibility.

Maybe now Dodgers fans believe they have the worse GM in baseball. Being the most expensive team that can not get out 1st round of the playoffs.

I guess the worse GM in baseball is determined where you live and what the circumstances of team that fans don't like.
October 9, 2014 - 9:32 AM EDT
"Most teams hitting at or around $100M…"

This ignores the fact that while the Indians were 20th in payroll this season, they were 29th in attendance. If they were 20th in attendance, that would mean 700K more tickets sold, and payroll would be $100M easily.

I will never understand why fans expect teams to operate at a loss in order to pursue championships. That's bad business, and these teams are (with a few exceptions) run by good businessmen.
October 9, 2014 - 9:27 AM EDT
Teddy Roos:

"Did they throw away almost $40 mil 2 years ago with nothing to show. "

IMO those signings changed the dynamics of the franchise - along with hiring Francona. Two years ago we made the playoffs and this year we were in contention until the last weekend. Things have radically changed for the better and we have reason to believe they will continue to improve.
October 9, 2014 - 8:39 AM EDT
@ Robert and Clay... Yes.. the FA market is set up to excite the very weak minded folks like Roos.. Forays into the expensive & diminishing returns of free agency make good headlines, but make poor use of limited resources. Only in the event of a bargain or a discount by a player that WANTS to be a member of the Indians should free agents be considered..

The general thought that salary totals should be approaching an average of $ 100 MM sounds a little low if teams like the Dodgers, Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, and Tigers are included.. That group has an average payroll that is 120 % higher than the league average. The bottom two teams are nearly 120 % below the league average. Remove those seven teams as "outliers" from the mix and the Indians are at 98 % of the league average for salary. This in one of the smaller markets for MLB.

In short.. the amount is correct for a business to operate and make a small profit. Spending more needs to be accompanied by an increase in revenue.. Otherwise, this is no longer a business, it's a charity that only burdens the ownership. I seriously doubt anyone who reads or posts in a forum such as this would start a business, run the business for 20 years and continue to pay for the shortfalls out of their own pocket.

Nothing would change if new ownership arrived.. The same business model exists: X amount of revenue in has to equal or surpass X amount of costs out.. This isn't rocket surgery.. Whining that ownership isn't spending is hogwash.. Every year, this ownership spends.. and it appears that won't change anytime soon. This ownership is stable and pro-Cleveland.. The ownership lives here and supports the city.. None of the other franchise owners in this city do the same.. Yet, this is the only franchise that gets singled out as not spending.. Brain science should tell anyone who wants to hear.. the Indians and to some extent the Cavs have been the two sports franchise that have been relevant w/r to winning a league championship in the last decade.. or more..

The Indians do not have a GREAT team.. but they do have great leadership in the dugout.. and great leadership in the owners suite. That should be celebrated.. but, it's not because.. stupidity, like that shown in articles repeated over and over by the dying one newspaper in the city continue to be printed. They are untrue and misleading stories that the weak minded continue to swallow..

Rant over....Thoughts?..
Teddy Roos
October 9, 2014 - 7:11 AM EDT
its not the salary commitment that limits this team. It's the lack of commitment by ownership. With most teams hitting at or around $100 mil this ownership won't budge on salary. Add to that the worst GM in baseball. Did the fans give $15 mil to a career .240 hitter. Did they throw away almost $40 mil 2 years ago with nothing to show. I just wonder what the next best offers were to Swisher and Bourn. My guess we overpaid by 2-3 times. But somehow it's the fans fault.
October 9, 2014 - 6:32 AM EDT
I agree with Clay. FA is not the way to go. There needs to be some value for value trades to rebalance the team.

Also, does anyone have any idea if the team lost money this year?

October 9, 2014 - 3:34 AM EDT
Even if that number was a confirmed number, it's not money they should completely blow on FA anyway. Trades are where CA & company generally get more bang for their buck.
C L Who
October 9, 2014 - 2:41 AM EDT
Nice title, but no discussion of how salary commitments could limit.......and yes, I saw that there is 8 to 13 million to spend. That's an arbitrary number, not reflective of the resources potentially available to a committed owner.

Add 3.5 MM more by not signing Aviles.
Vic Ven0m
October 9, 2014 - 12:44 AM EDT
"Salary Commitments Could Limit Indians." You could just copy and paste this as an off-season article ever year, you'll be good.

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