Before we even get started, let’s not pretend like the Indians were ever truly in the market to trade prospects for a guy on a contract year making $11 million with the prospect of making Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford type money. The Indians have made it clear that this couldn’t be further removed from their business plan.
Just to remind you, Carl Crawford is making $14 million this season, almost $20 million next year and will make $21 million in 2017 as a 35 year-old. That should be just in time to come off the bench as an underachieving pinch-hitter to hit a grand slam against a young “up and coming” Indians team in the ALCS, but I might just be bitter. Let’s go through the exercise anyway just for kicks.
Jose Reyes is having a phenomenal year batting 0.349 with an OBP approaching 0.400 with 30 stolen bases. He is a player who relies on speed. And wouldn’t you know it? He is having his best year as a pro when he is playing for the biggest contract of his career. That just never happens, does it? So, what would it take to get a player like Jose Reyes from the New York Mets?
Last night on Baseball Tonight they suggested it would take two prospects in the A to A+ range. Maybe an A+ and a B+ type of prospect. Now, I don’t know if this is accurate or not, but let’s go ahead and pretend that this is the case. I went to Twitter to figure out what names in the Indians organization we could be talking about. In the end I heard names like Cord Phelps, Drew Pomeranz, Jason Kipnis, Jeanmar Gomez and Katy Perry. Oh that last one was just ringtone Twitter spam. Do people really still buy ringtones?
So pick any two of those names and trade them to the Mets for the right to engage in contract negotiations with Peter Greenberg or Scott Boras. Meanwhile, the Indians aren’t really negotiating as much as pretending that they don’t know that Jose Reyes is going to get something in the neighborhood – and probably north of $20 million per season. In Cleveland Indians payroll terms you can call that a roughly 42% increase in payroll over this season’s roughly $48 million total. On one single player.
Meanwhile, the Mets are probably looking for pitching and in order to bring in a super position player, they potentially could chop the legs out from under the future of the pitching staff. Getting good pitchers seems to be a game of numbers. Rather than having only a couple of names with potential you’d probably rather have two more names like Gomez and Pomeranz to go along with a name like McAllister.
Not trading for Jose Reyes doesn’t make the Dolans cheap either. I fully expect the payroll to grow over the next few years as some of these younger players come into their own. Consider that Asdrubal Cabrera is making $2.025 million this season with two upcoming arbitration years before becoming a free agent in 2014. The Indians will spend some more money. That being said, with the way the game is currently set up, the Indians will not be paying a single player $20 million anytime soon.
That doesn’t mean the Indians can’t win it all either. Last year’s Giants won it all with their highest paid player making $18.5 million. You know who that player was? It wasn’t Tim Lincecum. It was Barry Zito. The Giants went on a run and won the World Series in spite of having one of the worst contracts in the Majors on their books. The Indians can do it too, and they might even find it easier if they never have a contract like that sitting on their books.
And they won’t, I don’t think. The Indians seem to want to put multiple years of contention together in the mold of the Minnesota Twins. Somewhere down the road the Indians may rent a player for prospects, because they think they are that close, but it certainly won’t be in year one of the cycle. Despite how badly we all want this year to be the year, it is important to remember that this is year one and it might not have been in the plans for it to be this year this early.