As we’re all well aware, the Indians have a number of glaring deficiencies as we enter the offseason.  Aside from the dreadful starting pitching (the pitching staff was statistically one of the worst in the majors this year), the Indians still don’t have a clear solution at first base and in the outfield.  When you look at the free agent class for this winter’s offseason, there are not many solutions automatically available.  This makes it more likely that the Indians will attempt to improve the team through trades.

Here are the outfield free agents, courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors:

Left fielders
Travis Buck (29)
Melky Cabrera (28)
Jonny Gomes (32)
Scott Hairston (33)
Josh Hamilton (32)
Eric Hinske (35)
Reed Johnson (36)
Andruw Jones (36)
Austin Kearns (33)
Carlos Lee (37)
Ryan Ludwick (34) - $5MM mutual option for 2013 with a $500K buyout
Darnell McDonald (34)
Juan Pierre (35)
Juan Rivera (34) – $4MM club option for 2013 with a $500K buyout
Drew Sutton (30)
Delmon Young (27)

Center fielders
Alfredo Amezaga (35)
Rick Ankiel (33)
Michael Bourn (30)
Curtis Granderson (32) – $15MM club option with a $2MM buyout
Scott Hairston (33)
Mitch Maier (31)
Angel Pagan (31)
Cody Ross (32)
Grady Sizemore (30)
B.J. Upton (28)
Shane Victorino (32)

Right fielders
Brian Bixler (30)
Travis Buck (29)
Matt Diaz (35)
Kosuke Fukudome (36)
Torii Hunter (37)
Andruw Jones (36)
Ryan Ludwick (34) – $5MM mutual option for 2013 with a $500K buyout
Xavier Nady (34)
Juan Rivera (34) – $4MM club option for 2013 with a $500K buyout
Cody Ross (32)
Ichiro Suzuki (39)
Nick Swisher (32)

Obviously the three biggest names on this list are Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn, and B.J. Upton.  Right off the bat you can expect that they are going to get a huge payday and the Indians will have almost no chance of signing them.  The rest of the outfielders all leave something to be desired – Nick Swisher is decent, but I believe somewhat overrated.  He wants a monster contract, although he may be unlikely to get it at the age of 32.  Curtis Granderson is fantastic, but I highly doubt the Yankees are going to let him get away (despite his struggles in the postseason).  Melky Cabrera is an intriguing option, and may come cheap this offseason because of his positive PED test.  He’s the type of person that may bring too much negative attention and drama to the clubhouse, almost more trouble than he’s worth.  Cody Ross isn’t a terrible option, but it sounds like the Red Sox are working on an extension with him.  There are a few older players who are past their prime, but may be affordable – Torii Hunter and Ichiro Suzuki come to mind.  I’ve never been that high on Ryan Ludwick, and it’s possible that the Reds pick up his option during the offseason anyway.  Some of the names on the list make me want to scream – Austin Kearns, Travis Buck, and Brian Bixler for starters.

Today I saw a story about the Arizona Diamondbacks and how they have a log jam in the outfield.  They may be a match for the Indians, who are quite obviously looking for long term help but may settle for a short-term fill-in.  With the thin free agent market, a trade may be the best route to take at this point.  The Diamondbacks have Justin Upton, Chris Young, Gerardo Parra, and Jason Kubel in the outfield.  While the Diamondbacks have considered trades for Upton, he’s likely to require a rather large return.  I’m not sure if it’s worth it for the Indians to surrender a ton of minor league talent for him, plus there’s no guarantee that Arizona is definitely willing to part with him.  The preferred options (mentioned in the story linked at the top of the paragraph)  involve the Diamondbacks listening to offers on either Kubel or Parra.  The left-handed Kubel is familiar with the AL Central since he played his entire career with the Twins until he went to Arizona last year.  With the D-backs, he hit .253/.327/.506 with 30 home runs.  Even though he’s yet another left-handed bat, his 30 home runs would be a vast improvement over most internal options.  While he may not be likely to repeat the 30 in 2013 (it was a career-high total), Kubel typically hits about 20-25 home runs a season as long as he’s healthy.

Parra, a left-hander who hit .292/.357/.427 with eight home runs in 2011, along with winning the Gold Glove, was the odd man out in the Diamondbacks outfield for much of the 2012 season.  Even though he had fewer at-bats, he still hit .273/.335/.392 with seven home runs.  Parra, 25, doesn’t have as much pop in his bat as Kubel.  However, he hits for average and is a relatively good defender.  Plus he’s five-years younger than Kubel, who will be paid $8 million in 2013, the second year of his two-year, $16 million deal.  Parra isn’t even arbitration eligible until 2013, and does not qualify for free agency until 2016.  I find it hard that the Diamondbacks would be willing to part with such a young, cheap player.  Although it also seemed impractical to give Kubel most of the playing time this past season, and that’s exactly what they did.  Parra is a very cost-effective option and may not require the prospect haul of a Justin Upton.

I should add that I still don’t trust the front office, and I’m nervous at the thought of them making a big trade.  There are a few options out there for outfield help (as well as with some of the other positions) and I plan to look at some of those throughout the offseason.

 

6 Comments

  • Steve Alex says:

    You might as well forget the big money guys right now. But, Hairston, Young, Victorino and Pagan would all be nice fits in LF at a moderate price and a huge upgrade over the Cunningham/Duncan/Damon triumvirate of 2012. Not big boppers, but not big bucks either, and none of them are pushing 40 or walking with a cane. That and a 1B with a pulse would suddenly give us a legitimate 1-9 lineup. Fancy that!

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    I keep forgetting about Victorino. I have one concern with Delmon Young – I have a friend that’s a Twins fan, and a friend that’s a Tigers fan. All Twins friend did was complain about Young, and then mocked the Detroit friend endlessly when he went there. It wasn’t long before Detroit friend was begging for another team to take him! He can be pretty maddening…swings at anything, goes red hot and then freezing cold.

  • Steve Alex says:

    I really like Victorino. Young does have that underachiever label. His low OBP is why Tampa gave up on him so quickly and traded him for Garza. But again, he’s not replacing Albert Belle. A .250 avg. and 18 homers would be great. More than 120 games played would be even better. There is nobody anywhere in the organization who could do that much in left field next year. That moves Zeke to the 4th OF job and keeps Canzler at DH or the infield.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    I like Victorino too…my initial fear was that he would also be priced out of the Indians’ budget, but then I keep forgetting that he probably won’t resign in LA.

    Haha, yeah, those guys got frustrated with Young but to us (with the guys we had in left last season) he pretty much looks like Tris Speaker! ;)

  • Christian camlin says:

    Arizona is willing to part with their outfielders because they have 2 AAA outfielders who show all signs of being ready for the big show. Parra is nice but essentially a 4th outfielder type with a great glove.Offensive production for him is inconsistent.Putting Kubel back in the Central Division with it’s spacious pitchers parks you would pay too much for uncertain production.I like Upton but he would involve a major outlay for a short amount of his time.A better move might be to trade for one of the Kids Arizona has on his way up.Arizona will be dealing but will not likely drop the price on their veterans until the middle of 2013 or after next year.They might deal a kid for bullpen help and an infield prospect.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    Thanks for sharing that, I don’t know much about Arizona’s farm system and didn’t realize that. If they could find a deal that works for everyone, it could be a win-win for both of them.

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