I lead with this one because if I am sure of one thing with next year's Indians is that they need a 4th guy because one or more of Miller, Allen or Shaw are going to break down. So we need a lefty and a righty setup guy.
Daniel Hudson is going to sign with the Pirates for $11 million over 2 years. Brett Cecil signed a $30 million contract for 4 years with the Cardinals.
The price of relief pitching is out of this world.
Look, we need another experienced setup man who might be able to close, if necessary. That guy was Daniel Hudson who, truth be told, may turn out to be a bargain for the Pirates. A guy with an ERA north of 5 last year? Yeah, but if you are betting on a bounce back year, he is a good guy to bet on.
Still, that is a lot of cash. So we look at the bargain basement and here is what I see: 44 relief pitchers, a lot with major league experience. Lopez, Ohlendorf, Feliz, Romo, Wood, Hunter, Casilla, Logan, Maness and wildcards like Latos, Papelbon and Blanton. There are lots of options out there. The Indians have been great about picking which guys will be good (e.g., Manship, who is still available BTW). So, if we shop in the basement we might just luck out again.
First base/third base/outfield
There are lots of ways this can be sliced IF we have a healthy Brantley.
1. Re-sign Napoli
2. If Brantley comes back, sign an RH hitting outfielder and move Chisenhall to 1B/DH (he can still platoon with Guyer, just that Guyer DHs and Santana plays first against lefties)
3. Get a thirdbaseman (Puoiffe or a trade), move Ramirez to second, Santana to 1B and Kipnis to DH.
4. Sign a catcher who can hit but doesn't catch well any more and let him DH with Santana at 1B full-time AND be our third, emergency catcher.
5. Pull off a big time trade (like Votto from the Reds) with a team trying to dump a contract.
6. Sign a big name free agent first baseman, DH or outfielder
While I would love to have Bautista, Trumbo or Encarnacion on this team I just don't like the dollars and years and the loss of the draft pick that would bring. So I eliminate 6. right away. 5. is problematic for me, as well, although there is probably a way to get a one-year rental and if they get an OFer, Naquin is expendable and, so, a good trade chip. Wouldn't Votto look nice in this lineup, though! I would be willing to give the prospects I would need to get Votto IF the Reds could throw in some relief pitching at no additional, or minimal, charge. Blake Wood, anyone? I guess Cingrani is out of the question, right?
As we are rapidly approaching the end of the year there are still a lot of different ways to make this team better and lots of guys out there who could potentially do that. Bargain FAs available in January...just the way the Indians like it.