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American League

The Time is Running Out on the Tribe

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The Major League Baseball Team with the longest current drought between World Championships opened Spring Training with sky high expectations once again this year.  Indians fans are hoping that the team’s performance in Goodyear, Arizona will carry over back to Cleveland.

Tribe fans have no reason to feel otherwise.  Since Terry Francona took over in 2013, the Indians have averaged over 90 wins a season.

The Indians have been one of the most elite teams in baseball over the past five seasons.

Despite a disappointing first round ALDS loss to the New York Yankees last season, combined with blowing a 3-1 series lead and eventually losing to the Chicago Cubs in the 2016 World Series.

The team still features one of the best rotations in the American League.  Two-time AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber headlines a staff that has become one of the more reliable units in the game.

The Indians lineup showcases perennial All-Stars like Francisco Lindor, Edwin Encarnacion, and José Ramírez.  The team has high hopes for top prospect Bradley Zimmer to contribute regularly in 2018.

The bullpen remains the team’s strength heading into the 2018 Season.  Closer Cody Allen is a reliable arm at the end of games.  Andrew Miller’s ability is well-known throughout baseball, and he continues to be a dominant arm out of the pen.

The Indians benefit from one of the weaker divisions in baseball.  The Minnesota Twins were a playoff team as well last year, but the rest of the division remains at least a year or two away from competing.  Cleveland should feel very confident in winning the AL Central this season.

But what about next season and beyond?

The Tribe operates with the 14th highest payroll in MLB at $127 million (figures provided by Spotrac).  The Indians historically are not active in big name free agency (Not withstanding Encarnacion).  The team watched Carlos Santana, Jay Bruce, and Bryan Shaw leave via free agency.  Pitching coach Mickey Callaway left to become the manager of the New York Mets.

Cleveland chose not to pursue Santana (He received three years, $60 million from Philadelphia).  The team spent $15 million over two years on notoriously light hitting Yonder Alonso, despite coming off of a career year.

The Tribe can’t be expected to compete in the market for Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.  Both are free agents at season’s end and are expected to command salaries with AAV’s over $10 million.

Michael Brantley’s $12 million salary comes off the books after this season, and the Indians would love to find a taker for Jason Kipnis’s $28 million over the next two years.  Cleveland fortunately has club options on Kluber through the 2021 season.

The sky is not falling in Cleveland, but the window to compete is closing.  The Yankees, Astros, and Red Sox all got better in some form or fashion this offseason.

The Indians path to the postseason is through the division where they are still the class of the AL Central.  However, the Twins are on the rise and the White Sox are compiling a nice group of young players.

This could be the Indians last year to win that elusive World Series with this core of players.  Free agency will hit the Indians hard this offseason, even Chief Wahoo’s contract will expire at season’s end.  The time is now or who knows for the Tribe.

 

American League

White Sox Acquire Ivan Nova

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The Chicago White Sox have acquired right handed starter Ivan Nova from the Pittsburgh Pirates, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Robert Murray.

According to Fancred’s Jon Heyman, the Pirates will receive a “young pitcher” and an unstated amount of international bonus pool availability in return for Nova.

Nova posted a 9-9 record with a 4.19 ERA last season for the Pirates.

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American League

Yankees “Open To Moving” Miguel Andujar

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The New York Yankees have a future superstar in Miguel Andujar, a fan favorite, yet they have been constantly linked to rumors of being open to dealing him, despite his huge rookie season.

This one, just doesn’t make much sense if the plan is to move Andujar to make room for the likes of Manny Machado.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Robert Murray, the Yankees are “open to moving” Andjuar via trade, but there is no clear trade path to reference at this time.

This development clearly shows the Yankees desire to sign Machado to a free agent deal.

The Yankees and Mets have also been linked in a potential deal that could see Noah Syndergaard end up in New York, with Andujar on his way out.

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American League

Rangers Sign Rafael Montero

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The Texas Rangers have agreed to terms on a minor-league deal with right handed pitcher Rafael Montero, according to the Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant.

Montero is still working back from Tommy John surgery, and was once a top prospect in the New York Mets organization , but struggled transitioning to the major league level, putting together a woeful 5.38 ERA over 192 1/3 innings pitched.

 

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