What Next?

Having filled their void at second base, what do the Indians do from here? They swapped young position players, acquiring a second baseman while also saving their money for later activity. So they'll still be competitive players in the market. There seems to be two possible main courses of action if the Indians want to fill their other major void:

(1) Sign only what you need.

The Indians have one big definite need;the bullpen. Although there are aspects of the roster that could still use some work, Mark Shapiro should spend his money in the bullpen and worry about the rest later.

The one drawback to this line of thinking is that there really aren't many obvious options like last year, when BJ Ryan and Trevor Hoffman, two of the better closers in baseball, were available. This year's free agent closer class features scrap heapers like Eric Gagne and Dustin Hermanson, and more marginal closers like Joe Borowski and Danys Baez. If a BJ Ryan were available, it might make sense to empty the wallet on one or two relievers. But not on this group.

(2) Sign the best; trade for your needs.

The more I look at the free agent environment, I think this might be the wiser course, especially given the depth on the roster. Signing a decent starting pitcher would allow the Indians to shop Paul Byrd or even Jake Westbrook for a nice return. Signing an outfielder would make Jason Michaels expendable, as would inking a backup infielder do for Hector Luna. In other words, turn marginal improvements into hole-fillers.

What's the drawback here? The entire free agent class is going to be expensive. JD Drew leaving $33M on the table in order to declare free agency should tell you something: we might be seeing a new plateau in free agent contracts on the order of 2000 or 2001. It's not just the Indians who have more money to spend, it's virtually every team in baseball. So I'm not expecting the Indians to sign a bargain; it's probably not possible this offseason. But I am expecting improvement, no matter how they have to do it.  

On to the rumors:

Buck Showalter: The Indians are interested in bringing the former Rangers manager on in an advisory role. This seems a similar position to the one Mike Hargrove filled before moving on to Seattle. As mentioned in the article, Showalter could be a backup plan to Eric Wedge, but I think Buck would be a better fit in a front office role than in the dugout.

Marcus Giles: Giles was apparently Plan B at second base, according to Paul Hoynes. Now that the Padres are looking for a second baseman, Marcus would seem a natural fit to join his older brother in San Diego.

Gary Sheffield: Hoynes also noted that the Indians were contemplating trading Kevin Kouzmanoff instead to the Yankees for Gary Sheffield. Thankfully, they found a much better deal. Ken Rosenthal mentioned that the Indians, Padres, and Yankees were talking about a three-way deal with the Indians getting Sheffield, the Padres Kouzmanoff, and the Yankees Linebrink.


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