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News and Notes

So far, it's been quiet for Cleveland this offseason, though I think we all expect this winter to be eventful. We know that the Indians will acquire an infielder, a significant reliever, and possibly a another starter. With only one arbitration case on the roster and no significant free agents to try to retain, the Indians should be aggressive in both free agency and the trade market.

Anthony Castrovince previews the Indians' offseason with the type of story we've seen for the past six years:

The Indians have the needs.

But as tends to be the case for small- and mid-market teams in the high-priced and high-risk world of free agency, they don't have the dollars.

Free agency is a very inefficient way to get decent talent if you don't have a lot of payroll to work with. And even if you are a GM with a large payroll, building your team from the bottom up with free agents isn't a great idea. It's much better to go just for the stars and fill in around them with your farm system. And if you can't make a play for the Sabathias or the Teixeiras of the market, you're left with the second-tier free agents, who are even more expensive if you consider the value you're getting.

Therefore, Shapiro and his staff will prioritize their needs, which include an infielder at third base, second base or shortstop, back-end relief help (preferably in the closer's role) and a third starter.

 Three seasons ago, the Indians signed Paul Byrd to replace Kevin Millwood in the rotation. And as free agent pickups go, Byrd was a pretty good deal, starting over 80 unspectacular but effective games for the Indians. He cost the Indians roughly $21M; for Cleveland to get a starting pitcher with a similar profile is probably going to cost them at least $2-3M more a season. The rub is this: the Indians are already paying Jake Westbrook quasi-market value, and he won't pitch until mid-season. And this offseason is the time to get an extension done with Cliff Lee. So between the rising cost of the current rotation and other priorities, I don't see the Indians spending a lot of dollars or talent to land a starter.

So how about the infielder? Second base would be the choice if you want to improve your defense, but Mark Ellis just re-signed with Oakland, leaving just Orlando Hudson as a good fit (in other words, better than Jamey Carroll). The legitimate third base options consist of creaky Joe Crede and Casey Blake, part deux. I think Hudson makes a lot of sense considering the current roster and lineup; if the Indians are going to spend on anyone this winter, it should be him. Brian Roberts would be an option if Baltimore lowers their demands significantly.

Though the Indians won't have a chance of landing Francisco Rodriguez (sigh of relief) or even Brian Fuentes, I think they'll get someone. The Padres aren't bringing Trevor Hoffman back, so he's an option, especially since he came close to signing with the Indians the last time he was a free agent. I think a trade would make more sense here, especially Huston Street (if he's not in the Holliday deal).