CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Indians had several glaring weaknesses to fix prior to Monday’s MLB Trade Deadline.
Rare is the opportunity to remedy every ailment before the buzzer, but with the Tribe positioned as a legitimate World Series contender, the front office couldn’t afford to sit back and do nothing, hoping that the club would maintain the American League’s best record and Central Division lead.
And they didn’t.
By the time Monday’s Trade Deadline had passed, Cleveland had acquired one of baseball’s best relievers and an outfielder capable of hitting left-handed pitching, addressing two of the club’s biggest problem areas.
The activity was very pleasing to manager Terry Francona.
“I thought they aced it,” Francona said of the team’s front office at the deadline. “I really do. I think it’s pretty well-known how much we like our team. And they made it better. And I think it gets exciting, and I think the players in there really appreciate it. I know me and the coaches do. Again, the game doesn’t get played on paper, and we have two months now to go out and embrace a huge challenge. And it should be a lot of fun.”
The Indians brought left-hander Andrew Miller into the fold on Sunday morning.
Miller has been one of baseball’s most dominant relief arms and his presence will immediately upgrade an area which has caused some concern this season. And with one of the Major’s best rotations already in place, the ability to shorten the game with the talented lefty greatly increases the team’s chances to make a deep October run.
The team also attempted to grab one of the game’s best two-way catchers, but Jonathan Lucroy blocked a trade to Cleveland via his partial no-trade clause.
Unable to complete the deal with the Brewers, the Tribe’s front office focused on maximizing the team’s platoon advantage in the outfield, acquiring Brandon Guyer from the Tampa Bay Rays for a pair of low-level prospects.
Guyer had been a lefty killer for the Rays this season (.338/.482/.585, 196 wRC+). His presence should provide an excellent right-handed complement to left-handed hitters Tyler Naquin and Lonnie Chisenhall and will push Jose Ramirez into an everyday role at third base for Cleveland.
And while Guyer doesn’t carry the name recognition or talent as other rumored names, guys like Carlos Beltran or Jay Bruce for instance, the front office valued a piece who fit the roster and didn’t carry the same prospect cost as other players at the deadline.
Francona sees positive in that.
“I think there is something to be said for not just accumulating as many good players as you can and not having a team,” he said. “I’m not sure that really works. Never been a big fan of that. I don’t think you just throw [stuff] against the wall and hope it sticks. I like our team. I think that the additions are going to be really helpful, but we don’t have too many where it’s going to take a while. I like what we did, and I like what didn’t do.”
As for Lucroy, who passed on the opportunity to join the Indians and was instead dealt to the Texas Rangers on Monday, the Tribe skipper won’t be losing any sleep over his decision.
“I guess the best way to put it, I like our team,” Francona said. “I’m not that shook up about it. In fact, I’m not shook up at all.”