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2006/2007 40-Man Roster: Dramatis Personae

With most of the relevant baseball games involving the Indians complete, time to turn some attention to the offseason. With so many young but unproven players on both the active and 40-Man Roster and with a clear goal of building a contender for 2007, something's gotta give.

There are currently 39 on the 40-Man Roster. I've bolded the players that I believe are in the Indians' plans for next season. These are very preliminary predictions; a lot can and will happen between now and April 2007.

This post will be re-visited at strategic points in the offseason.

2006 Free Agents (1):

IF Lou Merloni

That's it. All the rest of the potential free agents have either been traded or released.

Players with 2007 Options (3):

3B  Aaron Boone ($4.5M)
RHP Jake Westbrook ($5.6M)
OF  Casey Blake ($3.75M)

None of these options should be a difficult decision. With Andy Marte and Kevin Kouzmanoff in place, Boone's services are no longer needed. Jake Westbrook's option is a bargain compared to any free agent option. I would be shocked if Blake's option was declined; Blake's turned into a really nice right fielder, and can provide insurance at both first base and third base.

Players With 2007 Guaranteed Contracts (7):

RHP Paul Byrd ($7M)
LHP Cliff Lee ($2.75M)
LHP CC Sabathia ($8.75M)
C   Victor Martinez ($3M)
SS Jhonny Peralta ($750K)
DH Travis Hafner ($3.75M)
OF Grady Sizemore ($750K)

Byrd's deal is the only contract the Indians would remotely consider moving, and he's not that overpaid by market standards. So unless a "baseball trade" comes along, none of these guys are going anywhere.

Players Eligible for Arbitration (2):

RHP Rafael Betancourt (4th Year)
OF Jason Michaels (6th Year)

Rafael Betancourt should be brought back.

Whether Michaels is returns depends on what other moves the Indians make. He'd make a logical platoon partner with Shin-Soo Choo, but then again, he'd be a rather expensive part-time outfielder. Unlike Casey Blake, Michaels can't play the infield. I look for the team to deal him for a veteren reliever, keeping the annual swap of outfielders and relievers alive.

So far, due to free agency and arbitration, the Indians are losing just three players from the roster, and 9 25-Man Roster spots have been spoken for.

Players With No Options Remaining (10):

RHP Andrew Brown (bullpen)
RHP Fernando Cabrera (bullpen)
RHP Jason Davis (bullpen)
RHP Jeremy Guthrie (bullpen)
RHP Matt Miller (bullpen)
RHP Brian Sikorski (bullpen)
LHP Jason Stanford (bullpen)
C   Kelly Shoppach
IF Hector Luna
OF Jason Dubois

As of today, I'm comfortable saying that Cabrera, Miller, Shoppach, and Luna will be kept through the winter barring a "baseball trade". The rest might be looking for new organizations, particularly the relievers on this list.

Players with Options Remaining (16):

RHP Fausto Carmona
RHP Jake Dittler
LHP Juan Lara
RHP Tom Mastny
RHP Edward Mujica
LHP Rafael Perez
RHP Brian Slocum
LHP Jeremy Sowers
1B  Michael Aubrey
1B  Ryan Garko
IF Joe Inglett
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff
3B Andy Marte
OF Shin-Soo Choo
OF Franklin Gutierrez
OF Brad Snyder

For these players, an outright is a greater threat than a non-tender. Given that there will be additions due to free agency and additions in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft, players like Brian Slocum and Jake Dittler may be exposed to the waiver wire in order to squeeze another player on the roster.