Ok, so, just to get this out of the way, my ideal off-season is extending Lindor, Clevinger, and Bieber forever. And, then signing Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole, and Will Harris. Oh, and Yasiel Puig just for the fun of having him. So, now that I've said that, I'm going to try to look at what the Indians could realistically do in the coming months:
First, the projected 40-man roster, with accompanying salaries for each player (in millions, any player not noted otherwise is on the league minimum when on the 26-man roster)
C. Santana - $16.83
Carrasco - $10.25
J. Ramirez - $6.65
Hand - $7.58
R. Perez - $3.62
O. Perez - $3
Kluber - $17.5
Lindor - $16.7
Clevinger - $4.5
Plawecki - $1.5
Wittgren - $1.3
Naquin - $1.8
Plesac* - To be traded in below plans
That's 38, so, to begin with, the Indians may retain Allen and Goody (or Anderson and Haase). Ultimately, I'm advocating to release/trade Olson, Haase, Greg Allen, Goody, Cole, Salazar, Maton and Anderson.
Free Agency Moves:
Sign Scooter Gennett, 2B, for $4 million, with a mutual option for $6 million for 2021.
Sign on a minor-league deals Gerardo Parra, Aaron Loup and Shawn Kelley.
Zach Plesac and Nolan Jones to Pittsburgh Pirates for Starling Marte ($11.5 million) and Keone Kela ($4.5 million).
Payroll ends up around $125 million in this scenario, with a 26-man roster something like:
1. Lindor, SS
2. JRam, 3B
3. Santana, 1B
4. Reyes, DH
5. Marte, RF
6. Luplow/Johnson/Naquin, LF
7. Gennett, 2B
8. Perez, C
9. Mercado, CF
Bench: Plawecki, C, Tom, OF, Freeman, IF/OF, Arroyo, IF
Rotation: 1. Clevinger, 2. Bieber, 3. Kluber, 4. Carrasco, 5. Civale
Bullpen: 1. Wood, 2. Cimber, 3. Wittgren, 4. Karinchak, 5. Perez, 6. Hoyt, 7. Kela, 8. Hand
Additional REALISTIC Free Agent Options I'd Like the Indians to Consider (ranked):
1. Mike Moustakas, IF
2. Yasiel Puig, OF
3. Nick Castellanos, OF
4. Wilmer Flores, IF
5. Kole Calhoun, OF
6. Howie Kendrick, IF
7. Jonathan Schoop, IF
8. Brian Dozier, IF
9. Avisail Garcia, OF
10. Brock Holt, IF
(Gennet would rank fourth on this list for me. I'd also consider Smoak, but it makes Reyes a full-time outfielder).
Additional Possible Trade Targets for the Indians to Consider (ranked):
1. Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs
2. Mitch Haniger, OF, Mariners
3. Brian Anderson, OF/IF, Marlins
4. Whit Merrifield, IF/OF, Royals
5. Jorge Soler, OF, Royals
6. Trey Mancini, OF/DH, Orioles
7. David Fletcher, IF, Angels
8. Jackie Bradley, Jr., Red Sox
9. Randal Grichuk, OF, Blue Jays
10. Adam Frazier, IF, Pirates
(Starling Marte would rank second on this list as a trade target for me).
There are a variety of ways the Indians can put a championship contender on the field for next season, but it's going to require increasing the payroll at least slightly from last year's number. None of us knows what the Dolans are planning to do where money is concerned, but I am hoping that $125-$130 million is in the realm of possibility. I would also love to see the Indians extend Clevinger and Bieber this year, but if that happens, we likely need to set our sights lower in terms of other additions.
All salaries are estimates based on information from MLB Trade Rumors.