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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

Royals Name Mike Matheny Manager

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Mike Matheny

The Kansas City Royals have officially named Mike Matheny as their new manager, via a team announcement.

“Our entire organization is delighted to announce and celebrate the hiring of Mike Matheny,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said in a statement. “Every department has had the pleasure to work and interact with him this past season. Through this interaction, it became very clear to our leadership team that Mike is the obvious person to lead our baseball team. Mike Matheny is a passionate leader with strong virtues, intelligence, and a relentless commitment to help players reach their full potential.”

Matheny, 49, played 13 seasons in the majors and then had a solid run as the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals from 2012 up until the midway point of the 2018 season.

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American League

Orioles Outright Mason Williams

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Mason Williams

The Baltimore Orioles have outrighted outfielder Mason Williams, according to the International League transactions page.

Williams slashed .308/.371/.477 over 494 plate appearances in Triple-A during the 2019 season, and he was added to the Orioles’ big league rosters late in the season.

Williams failed to make an impact over his 11-game stint in the big leagues.

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American League

Blue Jays Outright Brock Stewart, Buddy Boshers

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Buddy Boshers

The Toronto Blue Jays made a pair of moves this week by outrighting relievers Brock Stewart and Buddy Rogers.

The Blue Jays will also outright reliever Ryan Dull as he has been designated for assignment.

Stewart, 28, had spent his entire career playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to being picked up by Toronto on the waiver wire at the trade deadline.

Boshers, 31, posted a 4.05 ERA over 20 innings and 28 appearances.

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