CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – The Cleveland Indians had a ton of decisions to make heading into a critical off-season. So far, Chris Antonetti’s staff has made things easier on themselves by making the easy decisions.
Of the four real question marks the Indians had to answer by 5 pm EST on Monday, three of those were layups.
Josh Tomlin’s $3 million option? Chump change. Boone Logan’s $7 million option? Tyler Olson, please. Carlos Santana’s qualifying offer? No-brainer.
With one crucial decision otherwise, the back-to-back AL Central Champions decided to again be risk-averse, as middle-market teams do. Though there was internal risk involved with exercising Michael Brantley’s $12 million option, the Indians played things safe. They exercised the same approach with the re-hiring of Carl Willis.
Instead of allowing an injury prone but All-Star outfielder to hit the open market, potentially creating another hole filled with uncertainty, the Indians took the money and production already on the books.
After another surgery, this time on his ankle, Antonetti sounded comfortable with going with what he knew.
“There’s a high likelihood of success with the surgery that he had performed, so we’re very optimistic that Michael will be able to contribute for a meaningful part of next year,” The Indians’ President confirmed. “And, as we’ve seen, when he’s on the field, he’s a very productive player, and we think there’s a good chance that he’ll be on the field for the majority of next year.”
Likely, the Indians never had doubt about Brantley’s option until his latest injury, and were thus entering the winter with a plan of pursuing Santana with the former’s money already out of the picture. If this were already the case, the emergence of Tyler Olson in the spot vacated by Logan actually created $7 million to retain Santana.
Or Jay Bruce, or Bryan Shaw, or chase a separate free agent entirely. It could be money that compensates recent spending by going back into the Dolans’ pocket.
Either way, the team has a plan, one which has rebuilt a 90-loss team into a 100-win team. The plan for the 2017-18 off-season has been, unsurprisingly, stay the course.
Just process Antonetti’s explanation on their Brantley decision:
We have a series of meetings with our Major League coaching staff. We meet with our performance team, strength and conditioning coaches, athletic trainers, medical staff, just to do an end-of-season review. And then, at that point we transition to some internal meetings with our front office, our senior evaluators and work through the information we have to try to do the best we can to assess what we think a player might be able to contribute in the future and what value that might mean to us as a team, and then how that would compare to expected alternatives.
Now the easy parts are over. Whether or not they are through the QO period with their projected dollar amount, $7 million extra, or are in the red; this is where the plan kicks in. The easy thought would be that staying the course means retaining Santana, but now the plan is out of their hands.