Yeah, I know. This would never happen for the Indians with their financial climate. But let’s be honest, there ain’t a whole lot going on right now until something happens with all those guys whom we all know are officially in line waiting for their train tickets to whatever horizon they are led to.
And I can’t say that I blame the higher-ups (believe it or not, I don’t blame them for eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh-verything) for being a bit gun-shy to give a guy like Shin-Soo Choo a Brinks truck or two after the ultimate disappointment of the Travis Hafner extension. (A warning to Rays fans and brass: Longo hasn’t exactly been an iron man, either.)
But for the sake of general nothing-to-talk-about-ness, let’s play a bit of fantasy GM. Put on your Chris Antonetti hats on and let’s put our imaginary pens to our imaginary checkbooks.
Shin-Soo Choo: Quite possibly the Tribe’s most likely candidate for the nine-figure contract. There’s really no downside to him as a player to his overall game, although he has his struggles with left-handed pitching. But with the right lineup, Choo could jump from a twenty-homer, twenty steal guy to a 30-30 guy.
Asdrubal Caberera: Plausible, I guess, because we see funny money thrown around for really good players who aren’t necessarily “elite” all of the time these days. If “Droobs” could put two halves of a season together and do it consistently, then his opportunity to get the big payday becomes at least in the realm of possibility. But it’s most likely that his ceiling may be in the $50 million range.
Carlos Santana: He’s not going anywhere anytime soon (presumably), and he’s the only guy that is likely to give opposing pitchers chills because of his power. But if he were headed into his free-agent year, his inconsistency would probably keep his price down. But if he figures out how to keep himself in check from falling into the prolonged slumps that he is prone to, everybody loves power, and he’ll still have some prime years at the time he becomes a free-agent. But he’s not a $100 million-type player.
Jason Kipnis: Ah, now we’re getting into super-realistic territory. Kipnis seems to be the long-term kind of player that seems to be in line for a big-time hike at some point. Like Choo, his all-around game could be worth the cornerstone treatment when his time comes. Or, he could be flipped for prospects in a year or two like Choo and Cabrera likely will be. I like the imaginary world better sometimes.
Michael Brantley: He’s the only player that panned out from the fallout of the CC trade. Good, solid player, but I don’t think anybody sees him as a megastar in the making.
Justin Masterson: Everybody wants pitching. Everybody needs pitching. But Justin really leveled off big time after showing flashes of being an ace in the making in 2011. It’s possible that reuniting him Terry Francona could possibly find whatever it is mechanically that went wrong this past season to get him back to the ascension he seemed to be headed towards. But at this moment, he’s nowhere near a big-money guy.
Chris Perez: Is anybody else envisioning a Heath Bell-like implosion? I wouldn’t be surprised. Closers are dicey propositions.
Vinnie Pestano: A billionaire in our hearts; a mid-priced successor to Chris Perez. But I wanna keep the guy around, anyway. He’s our LoMo.
Ubaldo Jimenez: *Snickers* Just kidding!
So, do the Indians have a Mega Millions lottery ticket player? If you look at it, not really. In a perfect world, it would be wonderful that the Indians would be able to keep all of these guys, even with eyes to the future. In a sport where money talks far more than the other big three sports because of the absence of a true salary cap, teams have to be careful. And given Longoria’s injury history, you have to think that Tampa Bay could be ruing this day at some point.
But I can’t lie it would be nice to have the ability to take the chance. And if the Rays, who deal with many of the same factors that the Indians do, why can’t we once in a while?