Offseason Outlook: Cleveland Indians

Next up in our Offseason Outlook series, the Indians.  Their commitments for 2010:

C – Kelly Shoppach – $1.95MM+
C – Lou Marson – $400K
1B – Matt LaPorta – $400K
2B – Luis Valbuena – $400K
SS – Asdrubal Cabrera – $417K
3B – Jhonny Peralta – $4.6MM
1B/3B – Andy Marte – $400K
IF – Jason Donald – $400K
LF – Michael Brantley – $400K
CF – Grady Sizemore – $5.6MM
RF – Shin-Soo Choo – $420K
OF – Trevor Crowe – $400K
DH – Travis Hafner – $11.5MM

Other considerations: C – Wyatt Toregas – $400K, IF/OF – Chris Gimenez – $400K

SP – Jake Westbrook – $11MM
SP – Fausto Carmona – $4.9MM
SP – Justin Masterson – $416K
SP – Aaron Laffey – $409K
SP – David Huff – $400K

Other rotation candidates: Jeremy Sowers – $421K, Carlos Carrasco – $400K, Hector Rondon – $400K

RP – Kerry Wood – $10.5MM
RP – Chris Perez – $402K
RP – Rafael Perez – $437K+
RP – Tony Sipp – $400K
RP – Joe Smith – $428K
RP – Jensen Lewis – $419K
RP – Jess Todd/Adam Miller/Failed starter – $400K

Non-tender candidates: Shoppach

The Indians entered 2009 with an $81.6MM payroll, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts.  For 2010 they have about $58MM committed, plus arbitration raises to Shoppach and Perez.  The Tribe could potentially spend around $20MM on new players without increasing the payroll, thanks to their veteran fire sale this year.

However, if fielding the best possible team in 2010 was the goal, the Indians wouldn't have traded Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez.  It would be inconsistent to sign free agents in an attempt to win the division next year.  The Indians should shop Shoppach, and non-tender him if they find no takers.  Moving Peralta's $4.85MM would be helpful.  Ditto for Wood's $10.5MM (assuming his 2011 option does not vest).  Westbrook and Hafner will hopefully build up value prior to summer 2010 trades.

Trading Sizemore does not make sense.  His value is at a low point, and he can be under control through 2012.  Even if the Indians concede 2010, Sizemore would be essential to winning the following two years.

Having shed Lee and Martinez, the Indians will no longer be the popular sleeper pick heading into 2010.  The trades brought in much-needed young pitching, but next year's rotation does not resemble that of a contender.

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