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Indians focused on “cheap roster fillers,” says executive who didn’t get Corey Kluber

Rumor season is the best, and also the very worst

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Cleveland Indians v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Something is going to happen eventually, it has to. Bryce Harper is going to sign, Manny Machado is going to sign, the Indians might trade a starting pitcher. Eventually, something is going to happen.

In the meantime, baseball fans the world over can enjoy Ken Rosenthal being the conduit for baseball front offices spitting gossip at each other. This time around it’s a “rival executive” who doesn’t believe the Indians are serious about trading Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer after all. Says Ken on The Athletic:

*The chances of the Indians trading one of their star right-handers, Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, seems to diminish by the day. One rival executive says the Indians currently are more aggressive on acquiring “cheap roster fillers” than completing a blockbuster involving a starting pitcher.

He goes on to correctly assert that Kluber and Bauer probably aren’t going to be available at the deadline either, meaning they are pretty likely to be staying in Cleveland for at least another season. But that’s not the issue here, of course. It’s a clearly salty general manager who didn’t the trade he wanted and is now trying to throw the Indians under the bus.

It’s not my job to blindly defend the Indians and I have no interest in doing it, but this is so clearly one-sided that it’s laughable. “Cheap roster fillers” is a direct, in-quotes, phrase from an executive. That’s not something you say to a reporter without the clear intention of it getting out and receiving a negative connotation, the same connotation that Indians fans like to bring up every time they sign guys like Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis instead of making big splashes in free agency.

What business is it of a rival executive if the Indians are going to sign a cheaper player, if not because they’re mad the Indians wouldn’t agree to their offer for Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer? Indians don’t want your players? Better go tell Ken about it.

None of this is a knock on Ken Rosenthal, either. He does a fantastic job at what he does, and without him hearing all these hilariously petty comments from front offices, we would have no idea this kind of Mean Girls discourse goes on when we’re not watching large men hit balls with sticks.

The best part is, the executive probably isn’t even wrong, depending on your definition of “cheap” and “fillers” (which is also a really encouraging way to hear a baseball executive referring to players). The Indians very well could be turning their nose up at substantial offers for Kluber or Bauer because they just don’t need to shed payroll anymore, and they believe they could grab a couple free agents to fill out the outfield and bullpen. Hell, they’ve already done it with the glut of fourth-outfield types they’ve acquired in the last year. If even one or two of them can catch fire for a season — much to the chagrin of Mr. Mystery Executive — they get to keep their two aces and still compete for a World Series.

Maybe the Indians will trade Kluber, maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll even go out and sign Michael Martinez again. Either way, this is yet another reminder this offseason that most of the rumors we hear come from general managers and others who didn’t get what they wanted in a trade and ran to a reporter about it.

Spring training can’t come soon enough.