The Cleveland Indians featured a strong infield and starting rotation in 2018.
The Cleveland Indians, overall, had a very solid infield, but with Josh Donaldson becoming a free agent, should the Indians make any free agent signings? Their starting staff is another one of their strengths. The pitching staff isn’t going to look much different next season. The Indians had four starting pitchers strikeout over 200 batters this season and have two of their most productive hitters on the infield all of whom will be there again in 2019.
The Indians have one of the better infields in baseball. For most of the season, Jose Ramirez was at third, Francisco Lindor was at short, Jason Kipnis was at second, and Yonder Alonso was at first. The Indians acquired Josh Donaldson in August and put him at third and moved Jose Ramirez to second. Kipnis then went to center. With Donaldson, the defense was at its best because Donaldson is a very good third baseman and Ramirez has more range than Kipnis at second. Offensively, two of the Tribe’s best hitters are in the infield. Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez are the best hitters on the team. Ramirez had a WAR of 8.1 while Lindor posted a WAR of 7.6. That’s good for two infielders in the top 10 for WAR in the MLB.
Cleveland will have an opportunity to re-sign Josh Donaldson. If his asking price is reasonable I think the Indians should sign him. When he is playing third, the defense is at its best and his offensive upside is beyond anyone else the Indians can afford this off-season.
The starting staff
Just like the infield, the starting staff is one of the best in baseball. They had four starters accumulate 200 or more strikeouts which was the first time any staff had accomplished that in Major League Baseball. They also had two Cy Young candidates on their staff, Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. Bauer’s chances of receiving the award went away about a month and a half before the end of the regular season because of a fracture in his leg. Without his injury, he surely would have been a part of a very deep field of potential winners.
The Indians won’t be adding any pitchers this off-season, but watch for them to dangle some of their starters out there to other teams as trade bait. Cleveland may see if they can trade one of their starters to acquire talent to put in the bullpen or outfield. If that is the case you could see Adam Plutko, Cody Anderson, Danny Salazr, or even Tristan Mackenzie fill a spot if someone was traded. Although I like the idea of calling around to see what you could get for a star, I don’t think the Indians would pull the trigger on the deal. They are very conservative with their starting pitching and it will likely remain that way. I expect to see the same starting five to be ready for the first week of the regular season in April.
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