Assuming the Cleveland Indians cannot come to a deal with Mike Napoli, they will be looking for the next iteration of Napoli’s 2016 season. That is, a veteran player they can sign at a bargain. Preferably one with a history of hitting a lot of home runs coming off a down year who can be counted on to bounce back.
Someone like Adam Lind.
Like Mike Napoli coming into last season, Lind is coming off of a bad year in 2016. He should not be too expensive, and he could potentially rebound but it’s not necessarily a perfect fit.
On the surface, Lind is not an exciting option. Even digging a couple layers deep, Lind is still not an exciting option. But I think he could surprise a lot of Indians fans next season, should he be signed. Last year with the Seattle Mariners, Lind slashed .239/.289/.431 with 20 home runs. Dingers aside, that is an atrocious season and it bucked a trend of three straight solid seasons for the 33-year-old Lind.
From 2013 to 2015, Lind slashed .291/.364/.478 with 49 home runs — good for a wRC+ of 129. His strikeout rate was a reasonable 17.8 percent in that span, he drew walks at a double-digit rate, and he hit at least 20 home runs in two of those three years. Not counting last season, there really isn’t much to hate about Lind’s offensive game. Defense is another story; he will likely give back a lot of offensive value with bad play at first base. But offensively, he fills a singular need for the Indians: power.
Lind would not address the Indians’ need for a bat against left-handed pitchers, if we still want to call that a need. He carries a heavy split in his career against lefties (.215/.260/.329) compared to right-handed pitchers (.287/.347/.502) as a left-handed batter himself. If the Indians feel they are past their lineup being too left-handed heavy, Lind would push them back into the red.
If the Indians find themselves in a position to sign Adam Lind, I have to assume they are pretty far down their checklist of desirable free agents. They would, theoretically, have to miss out on Mike Napoli, Chris Carter, Pedro Alvarez, Edwin Encarnacion, and maybe a couple more to wind up with Lind. But there is certainly a spot for him in the Indians lineup, even if it doesn’t break up the left-handed bats.