As I mentioned earlier today, the winter meetings are currently taking place. That means that teams will be talking trades, rumors will be flying everywhere, and we may finally a couple of the big free agents sign with a team. Many years, there are tons of rumors that never come to pass (example – it seems like Matt Kemp has been in trade rumors for the past two years). There are still Indians rumors floating around, even after the Brandon Moss deal. Could the Indians have more planned than the Moss for Joe Wendle move finalized earlier today?
Here are some of the other Indians rumors out there, along with my thoughts, and the likelihood of it taking place:
– The Indians are looking for someone to take Nick Swisher. This would be nice, but don’t hold your breath. Even if the Indians were willing to give him away for very little in return, a team probably isn’t willing to take on that salary. Swisher had a dreadful 2014 and is coming off of double-knee surgery; teams really aren’t exactly lining up to take him off the Indians’ hands.
– The Indians have interest in Justin Upton. The Braves have already sent outfielder Jason Heyward to the Cardinals this offseason…could Justin Upton be the next to leave Atlanta? This isn’t the first time that the Indians have expressed interest in Upton; they coveted the young outfielder back when he was with Arizona. With Swisher, Moss, and David Murphy all with the team for 2015 (so far) there wouldn’t be much of a place for Upton unless they unloaded someone else. So I don’t think this move is highly likely, unless it comes with a complementary move – either someone taking Swisher or Murphy off of the Indians’ hands, or a trade of Carlos Santana. In return for Upton, the Braves reportedly want pitching or a second baseman. The Indians don’t have much pitching they’d be willing to part with, but they do have an excess of middle infielders. It may not be enough to land a player of Upton’s caliber though. The 27-year-old, right-handed outfielder hit .270/.342/.491 with 29 home runs in 2014. While he’s been fairly consistent throughout his career, he’ll also be a free agent after 2015. I love Upton and would find this extremely tempting, but I don’t want to see them give up too much for one year of Upton. Because let’s face it – the Indians will not be forking over the money to resign him after the season. Other interested teams include the Rangers, Royals, and Padres.
– The Indians are fielding calls on Carlos Santana. No deal involving Santana is close to happening, but it doesn’t mean that teams aren’t inquiring. I do not like the idea of this move at all – I know many people find Santana to be a frustrating player, but I think he’s an extremely valuable offensive piece. He led all of baseball in walks last year with 113 as he hit .231/.365/.427 with 27 home runs. The low average bothers a lot of people, but you also have to consider that Santana hit .207/.349/.388 during the first half, and .260/.385/.475 during the second half. Once they pulled him away from that third base experiment, he started to improve at the plate. Let’s face it, Santana is probably never going to be a .300 hitter. But he will be a guy that gets on base, and that has power – he led the team in homers in 2014. Even though most of his power comes from the left side of the plate (19 home runs in 2014), he still hit 8 from the right side last season. For a team that’s in need of power hitters, I just can’t fathom getting rid of Santana when he’s signed for a reasonable amount through 2017.
– The Indians have discussed resigning Justin Masterson. There are supposedly a lot of teams who have expressed some level of interest in Masterson, and the Indians are one of them. I’d say this is a moderate possibility – Masterson likely is looking for a one-year deal to reestablish his value, and he obviously liked his time with the Indians and felt comfortable there. The Indians are probably interested in a little bit of veteran depth. However, his 2014 season is obviously a huge concern; if this was truly caused by an injury that has since healed, then it has a decent chance of success. If not, fans could be in for more of the same 2014 Masterson in 2015. Even during his best seasons, he was never lights-out against left-handed hitters. In this piece at Fangraphs, David Laurila mentions the possibility of Masterson turning into a power reliever. I really like this idea, and think that Masterson could excel pitching out of the bullpen. With his numbers against righties, he would work great as a right-handed specialist. However, as mentioned in the linked article, Masterson has no desire to pitch in relief. He’s gotten no offers to pitch in a bullpen, and so far his only formal offer came just today from the Rangers. Masterson trying to rebuild his value in a hitter’s park may not be the best of ideas though.
– The Indians have asked about free agent Kendrys Morales. Ryan wrote about this rumor last week, and I have to agree with his assessment that it’s a bad idea. I would think that the Brandon Moss trade completely eliminates any possibility of this happening, but since the rumor was out there I figure it was at least worth mentioning. Morales’s agent is Scott Boras, and Boras is supposedly seeking “multiple years and substantial dollars” for the 1B/DH. Every time Boras has held out for an oversized deal for a mediocre client, it doesn’t end that well for the client. Take Morales or Stephen Drew last season, or Kyle Lohse two years ago. They end up signing very late, for much less than they originally wanted.
It’s hard to say whether or not the Indians will make more moves this week (or even this offseason). Other than the offseason in which they signed Swisher and Michael Bourn, they tend to have fairly quiet winters. Once a few players sign, and a few trades are made, the rest of the dominoes will probably start falling around baseball.