The Indians were obviously disappointed by the way things ended this year, as the club was knocked out with three-straight ALDS losses. President of baseball operations Chris Antonetti, GM Mike Chernoff, and skipper Terry Francona discussed the state of affairs heading into the offseason in a media session, as MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports.
Broadly, Antonetti suggested that he thinks the organization’s processes remain sound. He also cited strong performance by the roster in all three major facets of the game, while emphasizing a commitment to continue “look[ing] to get better.”
In terms of how much cash the Indians will have to work with, that evidently isn’t yet known. Unsurprisingly, though, there’s no inkling that the organization will do anything other than continue to try to win with the current core.
The group of organizational leaders discussed a variety of players and situations in the lengthy dialogue, which is well forth a full read at the above link. There’s ongoing interest in bringing back Carlos Santana, though Antonetti was non-committal on how that would progress. He did suggest that Santana could be considered for a qualifying offer, which has been set at $17.4MM. Who’s on first if he departs? Per Antonetti, the team has internal options, plus “there’s a litany of guys on the trade and free-agent market that we’ll explore.”
Jay Bruce proved a big presence for the club after his mid-season acquisition, but he’ll hit the open market as well. Chernoff expressed satisfaction with Bruce’s performance and noted there is some “mutual interest,” though it certainly seems that both sides will also explore their alternatives as well. Francona offered high praise for pending free agent reliever Bryan Shaw for his steadiness and constant readiness to enter the game. Given that, it seems possible to imagine a return, though that wasn’t addressed directly. Antonetti did say the team will “absolutely” consider re-signing Austin Jackson, who he credited for a strong bounceback year.
A few other players could present interesting questions. Somewhat notably, Antonetti said it was a “significant decision” whether to exercise Michael Brantley’s $11MM option. While he credited Brantley’s work ethic, he noted that “just getting healthy” remains a priority for the oft-injured outfielder. Likewise, there’s some uncertainty surrounding Jason Kipnis, who is under contract but doesn’t have a clear position. The versatility is a good thing, says Antonetti, but the organization also needs to consider “what opportunities are out there externally for us” in all regards before deciding how it will line up its roster. Yandy Diaz is another versatile asset, Chernoff notes, though Francona suggested he hopes to give the youngster a single position to focus on — indicating he may best be suited to the hot corner.
Also, Francona (who will, as expected, remain in his position) fielded some questions on the team’s postseason performance. In particular, he emphasized that there’s no reason to believe at present that Corey Kluber — who faltered in Game 5 and has dealt with arm slot difficulties — is anything other than healthy. Francona also noted that he has never before been so physically drained by a baseball season, saying that he intends to work on his own conditioning over the offseason. You’ll want to check out the link for more on that and other topics of discussion.