Hello Cleveland fan, how are you? Are you ready to again root for results that do not directly affect your team’s record?
It is not like you haven’t been here before, two-win football teams, the Brooklyn Nets and Jim Sorgi be damned.
Are you ready to bring that sort of compulsive scoreboard watching to Progressive Field? Of course you are, it’s all you know!
The Cleveland Indians are not a finished product. The Tribe probably will need another relief pitcher and a right-handed outfielder by at least the trade deadline. Should it get to that point, everyone from Chris Antonetti to you, loyal reader, will need results to prompt others as sellers.
Of course, the sellers’ market could benefit those directly competing with the Indians should they presumably be playing in mid-October. Who cares? This is about you.
Without further ado, here are your Major League Brooklyn Nets for the 2018 Cleveland Indians market watch.
The Orioles can lose plenty. Fangraphs currently projects Baltimore for 75 wins, which is not horrendous, but also bad enough for fifth in a loaded American League East.
The Orioles have plenty of pieces you should covet. The team would be borderline crazy not to create a bidding war for Manny Machado prior to July 31st, but it would probably behoove them to bring back as much as they can for fellow expiring contract Zach Britton as well.
Again, the Indians will almost assuredly not be able to acquire both unless they completely gut their farm system, which means one of them will be dealt to a competitor. It may benefit the Tribe that the Orioles may refuse to deal within the AL East, which is expected to produce at least two playoff teams.
Therein lies an issue in its own right, however. O’s General Manager Dan Duquette does not like trading his stars, no matter the situation, but has done so to great effect in two prior stops. While in Montreal in 1993, Duquette dealt Delino DeShields for Pedro Martinez, and pulled off another coup in Boston in 1997, sending Heathcliff Slocumb to Seattle for Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek.
Duquette was rumored to be keeping tabs on all of the top arms on the market this off-season to try and pair with Machado for one last run at the AL East, and wound up with Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman.
Those could be decent reclamation projects, but probably not enough to eclipse the Yankees and/or Red Sox. It could be enough to potentially rally for the second wild card spot, though teams like the Angels and Twins could put that to bed early.
You, Indians fan, want the Orioles to lose early and often, sending Duquette on a prospect hunt. Of course, you want the Tribe front office to make serious offers for either player, or else this backfires in every case. This is an evergreen disclaimer.
Brad Brach is not bad either. Adam Jones is a slightly (read: barely) above average hitter at 32, but should figure in as a corner outfielder only.
New York Mets
This one might hurt. Mickey Callaway is as much a part of this stage of Indians baseball than just about any involved, but he could be more so.
Mickey’s Mets have the talent to make a run at an NL Wild Card spot, but are currently projected at 81 wins in 2018. They also have a wealth of expiring relievers in A.J. Ramos, Jeurys Familia and Jerry Blevins.
All three of those names come with considerable issues. Ramos walks a ton of hitters, Familia is coming off of surgery from a blood clot in his shoulder, and Blevins is essentially just a lefty-specialist.
While none are sure-fire fixes, the Indians do not need someone like the aforementioned Britton. It would not be crazy for the trio of Zach McAllister, Nick Goody and Dan Otero to struggle overall in replacing Bryan Shaw.
If Danny Salazar winds up not being used/able to be used as a multi-inning guy, Ramos, Familia, and Brach had all generally been better than Shaw in 2014-2016.
As a 7th inning guy, any of those options could put the Tribe pen back on par with the best in baseball, if they’re not already there.
Remember that stuff about a right-handed outfielder? Forget that for just a second.
As a long shot, it is really fun to imagine the Indians, or any team for that matter, adding Charlie Blackmon headed into the homestretch. Unfortunately those chances are very, very minute.
The Rockies are coming off of a wild card appearance and just spent $106 million dollars on Shaw, Jake McGee and Wade Davis.
Colorado is projected to win 80 games, putting them behind the Cardinals, Giants and Diamondbacks in the NL Wild Card race. The Brewers could easily factor into that equation by making a run at Jake Arrieta.
Regardless, the Rox are likely to be in the mix for that wild card spot until well after August 1st, and will probably not sell their best player not named Nolan. If they lose a lot early, it may behoove them to deal Blackmon and/or 2B D.J. LeMahieu for MLB-ready talent to make another run in 2019.
Again, long shot.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants are projected to be in the mix for that NL Wild Card spot after splurging on veterans in Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen. Longoria is set to make beaucoup bucks until his career is circling the drain, but the latter is a righty-outfielder on an expiring deal who makes a ton of sense for a competitor.