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Dexter Fowler and other remaining free agents the Cleveland Indians should consider

The Indians could use another outfielder. It just so happens the outfield market is still wide open.

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Cleveland Indians are done making moves in free agency. At least, that is what has been reported in the time since they made their last significant move in formalizing Mike Napoli’s contract. If the Indians truly are done, they may wind up selling themselves a bit short. There is no reason to make a huge trade and harm their future chances of winning, but what if they could snag another free agent for relatively cheap and help push themselves over the edge in 2015?

According to Ryan’s latest estimates, the Indians payroll for 2016 is currently set to be somewhere around $80.9 million after taking into account the $5 million owed to the Atlanta Braves (for Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn) and the $7.5 million they owe Chris Johnson while he vacations in Miami.

If the Indians have any intention to match their $86 million payroll from 2015, that means they have at least $5 million to play with. But hey, let’s be hypothetical. Let’s be optimistic, let’s shoot for the moon -- let’s say they have $8 million. That would put them at $88 million which would, admittedly, be the highest payroll for Cleveland since 2001’s $92 million roster, but this team is built to win now and for the next few years. If they can add another veteran or two for $8 million for a year I hope that extra couple million would not break the bank.

First and foremost, the Indians still need an outfielder. Rajai Davis is nice, but he is not an everyday option for the Tribe. Especially with Michael Brantley sidelined for at least a couple months to start 2016, it is important that the Indians have a deep outfield for next season. Right now they do not really have that; at best, they have a bunch of platoon possibilities, which may or not work out. Collin Cowgill pairs nicely with Lonnie Chisenhall in right field, but there is no true center fielder that can take everyday responsibilities unless you count Abraham Almonte. And you should not count solely on Abraham Almonte.

The biggest outfield option left is Dexter Fowler. He is coming off a one-year, $9.5 million deal with the Chicago Cubs. Last season was a career year for Fowler, who had a career-high 3.2 fWAR, and a career-high 17 home runs. Any other year his value seems like it would be out of the Indians range, but the outfield market is in such a state of flux right now that he could be a potential bargain. If he is asking to match, or come close to, the $9.5 million he made last year, that puts him out of even our hypothetical $88 million payroll range for the Indians, however.

A cheaper option could be Austin Jackson, who is coming off a $7.7 million contract, but not a great offensive season, at least by his standards -- Jackson’s 94 wRC+ in 2015 was the third-lowest of his career. At only 28 years old, he is a player the Indians could even considering extended a two-year offer to if they do not feel that Bradley Zimmer, Clint Frazier, and/or Tyler Naquin will be effective next season.

Will Venable and Steve Pearce are two other outfielders that the Indians have showed interest in this offseason. Both could come relatively cheap and on short-term deals; two things the Indians are looking for right now.

Third base may or may not be a need, depending on how much you believe in Giovanny Urshela, but the Indians have shown heavy interest in Juan Uribe this offseason. Uribe would be a bat upgrade over Urshela, and his defense is not terribly far behind. He could likely be had for less than $5 million. Similarly, David Freese would be a sub-$5 million veteran option to fill-in at third base while Urshela develops in Triple-A or for the Indians buy time until Yandy Diaz is ready.

The Indians could still probably use a reliever, but they have signed so many low-cost relievers this offseason that I truly believe they will find someone useful in that pile of Ross Detwiler, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Thatcher and Joba Chamberlain. As of now, the plan for 2016's bullpen is clear: throw everything at a wall and hope something sticks. Nothing left in the free agent market is worth throwing at a wall.