Indians trade rumors are coming a little faster than I expected this offseason. Buster Olney is probably wandering around Progressive Field’s executive suites right now grinning madly as he tweets out breaking news story after breaking news story. After being the first to scoop the Indians’ strategy to forgo all qualifying offers, he announced that the team will also consider trade packages for some of its marquee players.
Faced with market constraints, the Indians will listen to trade offers for some of their veteran players this winter, according to sources. Kluber, Carrasco, Encarnacion, Gomes, etc. Lindor, Ramirez will definitely be held.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 2, 2018
My initial reaction when I read this was to trail off in the middle of a sentence while on a conference call, and it took a lot of self-control to not make the meeting entirely about baseball roster construction. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that trading someone like Corey Kluber or Carlos Carrasco is a lot more palatable when it’s a fun hypothetical rather than a probable outcome.
What I think will set most people off is the wonderful opening clause of the tweet: “Faced with market constraints”. It is easy to yell about billionaires not throwing enough money at millionaires to beat the other billionaires in pursuit of a trophy. On some level I guess that’s what baseball boils down to, though it removes the essence of pretty much every essential part of the game.
The reality is that the Dolan’s don’t want to operate the team at a loss, and evidently retaining all of their current veteran players simply doesn’t allow them to avoid that. Keep in mind that Lindor is hitting arbitration this year and may very well land the largest Arb-1 contract ever. Between Encarnacion and Kipnis alone, the team owes more than $35M.
As several members of the twittersphere have pointed out, that doesn’t mean that the Indians are choosing to close a currently-open championship window. It is possible for the Indians to upgrade the team by trading away redundant strengths and bolster obvious shortcomings.
Crazy how many people can't comprehend the Tribe's strategy.— Joel Hammond (@joelhammond) November 2, 2018
They aren't rebuilding. They aren't looking for prospects for these guys. They're looking for Majors-caliber position players/relievers on cheaper deals to recalibrate, after seeing the way the game's changed.
After a bone-chilling hot stove season last year, let’s just hope the Indians don’t end up burning the house down before Spring Training.