Look, I hide nothing when I say I vehemently disagree with ownership's strategy to the offseason. To be clear: it's ownership's strategy, I do not believe the front office would trade their stars while attempting to compete for a World Series. It makes little rational sense. I also do not believe the Dolans when they claim the "financial losses" they suffered in 2020 were as severe as they claim, partially because I am not convinced they lose as much money owning the team as they constantly argue year after year.
So, for me, if the goal is to win a World Series: they should not dismiss opportunities with a young, talented, core like they had in 2019, 2020 and again in 2021. The core of this team remains quite strong, and there's no reason they cannot build at least a 2016-esque squad, without breaking the bank, next season.
Options & Non-Tenders
That being said, our financial resources are obviously not limitless, which means dead wood should be cut from the roster wherever possible, that means:
-Carlos Santana's Option: Declined
-Delino DeShields: Non-Tendered
-Tyler Naquin: Non-Tendered
-Austin Hedges: Non-Tendered
I love Santana as much as anyone, but it would be foolish to pay Santana $17.5M in 2021: he's not worth that much, and we could probably resign him to a far more reasonable deal if we wanted to keep him.
As for DeShields and Naquin: I've seen enough, they're potentially useful role players, but I can't spare the cash in 2021.
I still don't understand why we traded for Hedges; we already have Roberto Perez, and I think Perez has far more offensive upside than Hedges, which means Hedges must go.
-Brad Hand's Option: Exercisesd
-Roberto Perez's Option: Exercised
Overall, the roster's salary stands at $36.9M before we get to tendered contracts, potential acquisitions and players earning the Major League minimum.
Now, that leaves three players on the team who are arbitration eligible for 2021, they are: Francisco Lindor, Nick Wittgren, and Phil Maton. Baseball-Reference projects they will earn:
-Francisco Lindor: $21.5M
-Nick Wittgren: $2.2M
-Phil Maton: $1.0M
This brings the total payroll to $61.6M before we consider players earning the minimum, and any acquisitions.
Sign Justin Turner to a 2 Year, $24M Deal
The most underrated aspect of Jose Ramirez is his versatility. Before becoming our full time third baseman, Jose spent time at shortstop and at second base, and there's no reason the Indians should not at least consider moving Jose around the diamond to maximize the team's offense. My first instinct was to resign Cesar Hernandez, and that certainly holds merit, but here's the deal: this team is putrid offensively. We can't fix every position, which means reconsidering some things which feel settled can make sense. Justin Turner is, still, a great hitter. He's batted a cool 137 OPS+ since turning 30, including a still excellent 135 in 42 games last season. Turner is just the offense this team needs to boost a moribund offense.
To help make room for Turner on this year's roster I am backloading his deal: $10M in 2021, $14M in 2022.
Sign Oliver Perez to a 1 Year, $1.5M Deal
Oliver Perez will be 39, but he's also arguably our most consistent reliever these past three years. A flyer on 'one' more season, as he continues to defy Father Time, is a gamble I'm prepared to take. I'll also admit love watching him switch windups every other pitch.
Trade P Zach Plesac for OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
I stole this idea from lgk21, I thought it was a good one. Gurriel is the young outfielder this team desperately needs.
Sign Kurt Suzuki to a 1 Year, $1M Deal
Suzuki can't be worth much at this point, he's a backup catcher with an average bat at best. This team needs a body, preferably a durable one. That's a skill Suzuki has in spades.
Major League Minimum Guys
To round out the roster:
1. I capped the salary at under $90M, which mean I had to pick and choose where to upgrade the roster. I chose to give Josh Naylor & Bobby Bradley chances in 2021 to prove their the young hitters we'll need to build around in 2022 and beyond.
2. Since I traded Plesac, I opened up a spot for Cal Quantrill to move from the bullpen into the rotation. This also assured Triston McKenzie of a spot in the rotation as well. This is not ideal, especially since this team did recently have Trevor Bauer & Mike Clevinger in the rotation, but this team needs offense: badly. Plesac's attitude annoys me, and I doubt his value grows any more, which means giving the two other guys chances.
3. I cringed, but I couldn't afford to upgrade center field, which meant choosing between Delino DeShields or Oscar Mercado. I picked Mercado; it's far (far) from ideal, but he's younger than Bradley Zimmer, and his promising 2019 season sticks in my mind.
4. This means the bench is rounded out by Chang, Daniel Johnson and Jordan Luplow. We could swap out one of those two for Bradley Zimmer if we prefer better baserunning and versatility on defense.
5. The bullpen stays strong with Hand at closer, and adds fireballer Clase to the mix. He will get an opportunity to prove the hype (and that he isn't a cheater) in 2021.
- C: Roberto Pérez
- 1B: Bobby Bradley
- 2B: José Ramírez
- SS: Francisco Lindor
- 3B: Justin Turner
- LF: Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
- CF: Oscar Mercado
- RF: Josh Naylor
- DH: Franmil Reyes
- BN: Kurt Suzuki, Jordan Luplow, Daniel Johnson, Yu Chang
- SP: Shane Bieber
- SP: Carlos Carrasco
- SP: Aaron Civale
- SP: Triston McKenzie
- SP: Cal Quantrill
- RP: James Karinchak, Nick Wittgren, Phil Maton, Brad Hand, Oliver Perez, Emmanuel Clase, Nick Sandlin, Jefry Rodriguez,