As with every offseason, nearly every Major League Baseball club's front office had a flurry of activity in December. The Cleveland Indians made several moves that will have an impact on them in 2016. But was it enough?
Like last month, this post is your chance to voice your praise or criticism for the Indians front office and what they have done so far this offseason, relative to the rest of the league. Unlike in November, many teams made a lot of moves in December, so the Indians would not get much of a pass if they sat and did nothing. Luckily, at least in my mind, they made quite a few positive additions to the team (and some good subtractions) this month.
It seems like forever ago now, but the Tribe kicked off December by signing relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training. They followed that up with several other players being signed to similar deals. Throughout December, pitcher Felipe Paulino, outfielder Robbie Grossman, pitcher Jarrett Grube, pitcher Tom Gorzelanny, pitcher Joe Thatcher, and pitcher Ross Detwiler were signed to minor league deals with invites to Spring Training.
The Indians did not do much in terms of trades, despite being linked to nearly a dozen rumors over the course of the Winter Meetings. Instead, they only acquiring two players for cash considerations: Outfielder Colin Cowgill from the Los Angeles Angels and pitcher Dan Otero from the Philadelphia Phillies.
Cleveland’s biggest splash of December came mid-month when they signed outfielder Rajai Davis and first baseman Mike Napoli. Davis was officially announced by the team on December 17, but Napoli has not been formally announced by the team as of this writing, although he reportedly passed his physical.
In order to make room for Davis, the Indians DFA’d (then later released) third baseman Chris Johnson. The Tribe are still on the hook for his $17.5 million owed over the next two seasons, but Chris Antonetti made a decision that clearly points to the Indians wanting to win now. Instead of paying for Johnson to take up room on the roster where another talented player could fill-in, they are paying him not to play for them. It looks bad purely from a money standpoint, but it is a great baseball decision.
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So, with all that said, my personal grade for the Indians offseason this far is a B-, up from the C+ I gave them in our November poll. The bump is almost entirely based on the Mike Napoli signing, who is going to greatly impact the Indians offense and defense when he allows Carlos Santana to be an everyday designated hitter. I am also happy with Johnson's release and the kind of attitude that decision implies.
If there is anything the Indians could have done for me to bump my personal grade up to an A, it would have been to go all-in on a big outfielder, or even trading a pitcher for someone like Marcell Ozuna. It is looking less and less like they are going to do that this offseason, but I am okay with that.