As we enter February, the free agent market has essentially been picked clean. But is there anything left that could potentially help the Tribe?
Let’s take a look at a few options…
Michael Bourn – Clearly this is the biggest name out there and the only one who could have a significant impact in Cleveland. The Indians had been linked to Bourn earlier this season, but the Nick Swisher deal presumably killed their interest in adding another big name. But the closer we get to spring training, the more likely it is that the Tribe could re-enter the market. If Bourn reaches the point where he’s willing to accept a one-year deal, the Indians should be contenders to land his services. They still have a glaring hole in centerfield (no, Drew Stubbs is not the answer) and Bourn would, if nothing else, provide the Tribe with some midseason trade bait.
Jim Thome – Given the fact that the Indians already plan to use a platoon at DH, why not add Thome? For 250-300 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers he could be a real asset. Having a full-time DH on the roster can be limiting, but the recent addition of utility man Ryan Raburn makes it feasible. Having one guy capable of playing five or six positions certainly eases the difficulty of having another who can only DH three or four times per week.
Jason Giambi – For the same reason Thome is an option, Giambi needs to be mentioned. After a few productive years on the bench for the Rockies he hit a wall in 2012 and may not have much left to offer. But for a reasonable price, it certainly couldn’t hurt to give him a look.
Scott Podsednik – I assume the Indians are content to use Ezequiel Carrera as the 4th outfielder, but Podsednik could be a veteran option if they’re looking for one. He isn’t what he once was with the glove, but he played all three outfield positions reasonably well for the Red Sox in 2012. He would also be an asset on the basepaths. Ben Francisco was recently signed to a minor-league deal, but Podsednik is coming off a far more productive season, even at age 36.
Scott Rolen – This is probably a long shot, but I’m intrigued by Rolen. For starters, he could join the platoon at DH, but he would also provide the Indians with a strong backup at third based. Obviously we all hope Chisenhall plays 150 games and develops into the All-Star-caliber player we’ve been told he can be, but he has yet to show that at the Major League level. If Chisenhall stumbles, there isn’t a viable backup option on the roster. Between DH and a backup job at third base, the Indians could guarantee Rolen 200+ plate appearances and potentially trade him to a contender in July if necessary.