FanPost

SWAT's look into the 2020 Offseason

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Captain Obvious recently tweeted "The Indians need a reliable player for either 2B or 3B for 2020."

Before all of us, including myself, lose our collective minds trying to find an external option in a trade, let’s take a look at the internal options first. This is a FO that thinks proactively and has already built infield depth for 2020. Admittedly, they did get caught with their pants down early in 2019 with 0 infield depth behind Lindor, Ramirez, and Kipnis. Still, its hard to have 2 other quality options ready to go, and then have your all-world third basemen act like a ghost for the first part of the season. But they should not be fooled again. How does that saying go?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKgPY1adc0A

Their response was to acquire Andrew Velazquez (IF) and Christian Arroyo (3B/2B) from the Rays, taking advantage of a full and talented young Tampa Bay roster.

These additions make the depth behind Lindor and Ramirez as follows:

a. Yu Chang (SS/3B)

b. Christian Arroyo (3B/2B)

c. Mike Freeman (Utility IF)

d. Andrew Velazquez (Utility IF)

e. Max Moroff (2B/Utility IF)

Note: I am leaving off Mathias because I think he will not be added to the 40-man and might get drafted in the Rule-5 draft.

The above names give the organization much more quality than last year. With that depth, I think that the last starting spot in the infield will go to either Chang or Arroyo. CLEFO pulled off a sneaky good trade in getting Arroyo. A former first round pick by the Giants and former Top 131 Fangraphs prospect, Arroyo had an overall 50FV grade from the stats site. The Giants traded him to Tampa as the headliner in return for Evan Longoria. In the article below, a comp is made between he and Justin Turner. He has a great hit tool, and the build to grow into more power. His stagnation seems to have been caused by injuries. One great thing about the organization is that they tend to look past injury and use calculus that prioritizes overall past performance. For this reason, I think Arroyo will get a long look and I think it might actually work out. Below is a great article from DRaysBay and the Arroyo’s Fangraphs page.

https://www.draysbay.com/2018/4/12/17209914/tampa-bay-rays-prospects-inf-christian-arroyo-top-50

https://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=16434&position=3B

Below is the Fangraphs page for Chang. The eye-test last year showed Chang as capable with the glove at third, where he made some slick plays. Chang has power potential and speed. If he can learn to hit consistently, it looks like he has the tools to stick and potentially be a star. The organization probably has to keep Chang, as he is the only true high-potential shortstop depth this team has right now. So Arroyo has contact ability, and Chang has power. Below are some articles about Yu Chang.

https://www.letsgotribe.com/2019/1/15/18183392/yu-chang-no-6-cleveland-indians-prospect-who-no-7

http://alwaysthejakebaseball.com/prospects/cleveland-indians-2018-top-prospects-no-4-yu-cheng-chang-ss/

https://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=14773&position=3B

Bottom line about the infield: Between Chang and Arroyo there is enough potential to award a job out of spring training to the one who hits the best, and stash the other in AAA to get consistent ABs and continue development. Freeman is probably the utility man out the gate, with Velazquez also stashed at AAA since he has 2 more options. I also think Arroyo is a lock as he has 0 options left. I only see a minor league contract pickup for depth in the infield.

Outfield:

The outfield is the land of opportunity again this year. But this time, Mercado is a lock for center field. I think Luplow gets a shot as an everyday outfielder, but if he can’t hit righties by mid-May, I expect Daniel Johnson and Luplow to platoon in right field. At least with that platoon, one outfield position should produce above-average numbers, potentially even great numbers. That leaves left field to either Reyes or one of Tom, Naquin, Zimmer or Allen. Tom probably deserves a shot, but as long as he makes the 40-man roster, he can be stashed at AAA for depth. When researching Tom, I found Fangraphs thought he had less tools than Greg Allen. Still, Fangraphs could be wrong. Zimmer could rise from the dead, or just be the 4th/5th outfielder. He might be more valuable in a trade for the organization, however. I think there still exists great potential in him. The last note I have is that if Reyes can hold down left field, then that could open up room in the lineup for another bat, like Abreu, Castellanos, or maybe even a trade target, say Kyle Schwarber or David Peralta who are left-handed and can fill the DH roll as well. If they decide to actually pay a free agent, however, I think the sneaky-good signing would be Corey Dickerson who bats left-handed and above average at that! The question is whether Naquin will be back in time to do anything significant next year.

More on Allen and Zimmer. There are several clubs who need a center fielder, most of all, the Yankees and Cubs need a good defensive player in center. One of those two could bring back something useful to the team.

However the outfield shakes out next year, even if the organization does nothing to improve the outfield, it will be better than last year.

If I were in charge of the offseason, I would sign Corey Dickerson on a moderate deal contract for 2 years, trade Zimmer to the Yankees for Khanle or Green and maybe a low-level prospect. Stash Tom at AAA, keep Allen as the 5th outfielder until Naquin gets back. Then they would have to decide between trading Greg or optioning Johnson. So my outfield would look like this:

a. Mercado-CF

b. Luplow-OF

c. Johnson-COF

d. Dickerson-COF

e. Naquin-COF

f. Allen-OF

If they can’t sign Dickerson and Naquin isn’t back, they should give Tom a shot or make a trade. I like the idea of going for Schwarber, or ponying up for Haniger. I would sell Jones, McKenzie, and Plesac for Haniger+. They need one of healthy Naquin, Dickerson, or healthy Haniger to have the potential to bring this team to the land of milk and honey (Disney Word) in November 2020.


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