2020 has sucked for a multitude of reasons, and the sooner it goes into the bin, the better. Cleveland's latest postseason heartbreaker certainly didn't help, and now they stand on the precipice of arguably their most uncertain offseason since before Tito rode into town on his electric scooter in 2013. I've done a couple of these offseason proposals in the past. Both were either horribly unrealistic or just plain bad. This time around I will try to put together a plan that could actually work within the frustrating confines the Dolans continue to hamstring the franchise with. We'll see how this goes.
Austin Hedges (pick-up): I like Hedges as a backup, he's certainly better than Sandy Leon. *shudders*
Adam Cimber (decline): Cimber was bad before the three-batter-minimum rule was implemented and has been made unusable by it. This is a no-brainer.
Delino DeShields (decline): laughthencrydotgif.
Francisco Lindor (pick-up): More on this later.
Phil Maton (pick-up): Maton served Cleveland well in 2020. Another no-brainer.
Tyler Naquin (decline): I love Snarfboi, but the honeymoon is over. It's time to move on.
Nick Wittgren (pick-up): I thought he was a low-key steal from Miami and would like to see him continue to be found money for the bullpen.
Carlos Santana (decline): This one hurts. In my pre-saber days I thought Los was deadweight, over time I came to appreciate his hidden value as a master of the walk and underrated defense at 1B. Now, I love the guy. He's also 35 and coming-off a career-worst season. Cleveland also has several young guys on the depth chart that deserve a look at 1B. You'll be missed, Slamtana.
Brad Hand (decline): Had I written this a few weeks ago, I'd have kept Hand. Like so many other times, the Dolans took the decision out of my hands.
Domingo Santana (decline): I don't think this one needs an explanation.
Cesar Hernandez: One year, $6.0MM:
It worked so well once, why not do it twice? I loved what Cesar brought to the team last season and think he would serve as a fantastic stop-gap until one of the glut of IF prospects in Cleveland's system is ready to take over.
Corey Kluber: One year, $7.0MM:
He left as the franchise ace and would return as maybe their fifth starter. It's a real gamble considering the major injury he'd be returning from and his continued decreased velocity. You might be curious as to why I'd bother bringing Kluber back. Just follow along.
Joc Pederson: One year, $8.0MM
I wanted the Tribe to trade for Joc going into 2020 and create an outfield platoon Thanos with Jordan Luplow, but we were robbed of that reality. Now it will just cost them money to do that this season. Joc has power for days and is a decent defender, probably a platoon bat at this point in his career but sadly a significant upgrade over any corner outfielder Cleveland trotted out last season. I feel like they could potentially get him for less than his predicted contract at MLB Trade Rumors based on the current state of the market and his down season in 2020.
*note: I considered a reunion with Brantley here instead of Pederson, but I decided to go with a younger, cheaper option.
As I've been very vocal about here and in other places on the internet, I am vehemently against the way the Dolans have run the team the last several seasons and wish they would at least make some kind of competitive offer for Lindor to stay. It's not happening, and now that they've waited as long as they have to make a decision on moving him or trying to retain him, there is no real perfect trade partner. The Mets, Angels, and Blue Jays are the three teams I've seen mentioned the most as potential suitors for Lindor. There are pieces from each team I like, but no one suggested package does it for me. So, we're going to get weird.
Francisco Lindor to New York, Carlos Carrasco and Zach Plesac to Los Angeles
New York sends:
Dom Smith and Amed Rosario to Cleveland, Francisco Alvarez to Los Angeles
Los Angeles sends:
Jo Adell to Cleveland, Brandon Marsh to New York
Logistically, a deal like this probably won't happen (especially in this bizarre offseason), but I wanted multiple major league ready pieces for Cleveland from multiple teams. Smith is the odd man out in a crowded Mets lineup whose left-handed swing would play great in Cleveland. Rosario would obviously be a stopgap but is serviceable. Adell is raw and toolsy and has all of the potential in the world, but his star has fallen a bit after a rough 2020, hence why there could be a chance LA moves him. I loathe having to move Cookie, but I feel like just Plesac doesn't get that deal done (I have no qualms with moving Plesac, I'm pretty hardline on my stance on people not taking COVID seriously), and pitching-starved LA might get desperate in their pursuit to get Mike Trout a ring. NY and LA would flip prospects to complete the deal.
At the end of the day, here's what the 26-man could look like:
SP 1: Shane Bieber
SP 2: Aaron Civale
SP 3: Triston McKenzie
SP 4: Cal Quantrill
SP 5: Corey Kluber
Bullpen: James Karinchak, Nick Wittgren, Phil Maton, Oliver Perez, Nick Sandlin, Logan Allen, Scott Moss, Adam Plutko
C: Roberto Perez
1B: Dom Smith
2B: Cesar Hernandez
SS: Amed Rosario
3B: Jose Ramirez
LF: Josh Naylor
CF: Jo Adell
RF: Joc Pederson
DH: Franmil Reyes
Bench: Austin Hedges, Yu Chang, Jordan Luplow, Oscar Mercado
Obviously there would also be MiLB signings and ST invites galore, as well as probable appearances by Nolan Jones, Owen Miller, Daniel Johnson, and many others. I kind of hate this team I've assembled, if I were doing this without the constraints of good old Larry and Paul, I'd just sign J.T. Realmuto & George Springer and call it a day. Here's to hoping Chris Antonetti can traverse this offseason more confidently than I (assuming the Mets don't steal him too).