The Cleveland Indians have shown interest in several first baseman including Mitch Moreland, Adam Lind, Chris Carter, and former-Indian Mike Napoli, reports Jon Morosi.
While there has been a lot of speculation, this is the closest thing we have gotten to a confirmation of what kind of player the Indians are looking for to replace the production Napoli gave them at first base in 2016.
And what it appears to be, is the second-tier free agent first basemen. That should not come as a surprise, though — the Indians are not going to dish out whatever crazy money Edwin Encarnarcion is going to get. Instead, the Tribe are looking at Napoli-like signings; players that could bounce back next season for a sizable discount.
Of the players listed by Morosi, Lind fits that thinking best. He’s 33 years old, so he is not exactly in the final days of his career, but last season was a pretty awful one by most accounts. He slashed .239/.286/.431 with the Seattle Mariners, although he did still hit a commendable 20 home runs. He walked in just six percent of his at-bats, his lowest walk rate in five seasons.
Steamer projects his offense to get back above the 100 wRC+ threshold, and most importantly, his walk rate to crawl back up to 9.1 percent. His defensive value is long gone, but the Napoli-Carlos Santana combination was not great either last year and they still managed.
Mitch Mooreland, 31, is another bounce back candidate, having slashed .233/.298/.422 with the Texas Rangers last season but one year removed from a 117 wRC+ season in 2015.
I have already given my feelings on signing Carter and Napoli in previous posts this offseason. The short answer: it would not be my preference. If anything, I hope this list does not mean the Indians have completely ruled out Matt Holiday. We will know either way in the coming days as the Winter Meetings commence.