CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – The Miami Marlins will not be contending any time soon following the lopsided, cost-cutting trade of Giancarlo Stanton. The Cleveland Indians will be contending for the foreseeable future.
The Miami Marlins should have a fire sale to accelerate the replenishment of their minor league system. The Cleveland Indians will retain two of four five free agents at most, it would seem, and will need to replenish those five important spots despite a lack of free agent dollars.
Considering Jay Bruce was a replacement for Michael Brantley, and the latter is back already, a spring training invitee will suffice behind him with depth. Greg Allen’s service clock has already started, for that matter.
That is, unless Carlos Santana does escape in free agency, at which point Brantley seems the favorite to be an internal replacement at first base. Jason Kipnis seems better fitted to be dealt, and it feels more each day like he will be shipped out.
Say Bruce, Santana, Joe Smith, and Bryan Shaw depart, a likely scenario. It just so happens the Marlins have young, controllable players on decent salaries that could be had for the right price.
It just so happens the best players in that bunch that remain all fit the positions vacated by the Indians’ potential deserters.
Who are they?
OF Christian Yelich – 4 years, $42.25M remaining ($15M club option in Year 5)
If Jeter is selling assets, Yelich will be the most coveted. The 26-year-old has plenty of money remaining on his contract, which the Indians will not be willing to take on, so we won’t spend much time here.
He is a near-.300 hitter annually with above average speed and can hold his own in left field. His arm does not play well enough to man right field, and his metrics in 2025 innings in center field are far into the negatives.
A 4.5 fWAR player in three of his five full years, Yelich still retains enough value where he would cost a high-level prospect. Given the Indians financial situation, again, it would not be worth it.
OF Marcell Ozuna – Arb. 2, $3.5M in 2017
An All-Star with two more years of control at a position of need? Sounds like someone the Indians would target, right?
Ozuna only scored $3.5 million in his first year of arbitration, following a 2015 where he was optioned to Triple-A and a 2016 where he slashed a pedestrian .266/.321/.452. He broke out in 2017 with a .312/.376/.548 mark including 37 home runs and 142 wRC+.
The 27-year-old also plays a pretty decent corner outfield.
The issue with a breakout season is a breakout paycheck. MLBTradeRumors.com estimates that Ozuna will receive $10.9M in arbitration, which would also price him out of Cleveland’s range.
Reports also emerged Monday night out of the Winter Meetings that the market for Ozuna is heating up, including the Washington Nationals, San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals. The latter two were involved in the Stanton sweepstakes, meaning they’re pretty invested in acquiring an outfield upgrade of this size.
If the Indians wanted to make a big splash like last year’s Edwin Encarnacion signing, this could be it, but it would involve a financial and trade commitment.
1B Justin Bour – Arb. 1
Despite his showing in the Home Run Derby at Marlins Park, Bour is more than just a one-dimensional bat. He slashed .289/.366/.536 over 108 games in 2017, and his wRC+ is consistently rising year to year.
Bour has never played more than 129 games in a season at a low impact position where he is below average for even a first baseman.
The redeeming factor is that Bour is only projected to receive $3.5M in arbitration, and the fact that he is already 29-years-old means he will not be in the fold when the Marlins are able to compete again.
Bour does not seem like the kind of player the Indians would covet given his lack of versatility and wealth of left-handed bats, but if things get desperate at first, he could be a low-cost option.
RP Kyle Barraclough – TC3
At 27, Barraclough is still one year away from arbitration, so he might actually be valuable to the Marlins some day. That does not mean they should keep him.
Barraclough had his worst season statistically, though it was just his second full year. His velocity also dipped across the board. He still managed a 3.00 ERA, 3.66 FIP and 4.18 xFIP through 66 appearances.
The righty’s fastball still touches 95 consistently, with a plus-slider. The price should not be too high for a reliever with one career save, no matter how controllable.