Obviously this entire conversation is based upon the assumption that the Indians will make a trade or two this off-season. It also assumes that at least one of those players traded will be Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera or Chris Perez. If that assumption seems faulty, then read no further. I’ll wait… … Assuming you’re still reading, I think it could end up being a little more treacherous from a public relations standpoint than what we’ve all considered.
A quick glance at the Indians payroll from last year shows that Travis Hafner’s $13 million is falling off the books. Then, after Hafner, the next three highest paid players in 2012 were Choo, Cabrera and Perez in that order. Choo made $4.9 million in 2012 agreeing with the Indians to avoid arbitration. Perez made $4.5 million and is due another raise in arbitration as well. Finally, Cabrera is due $6.5 million this year and $10 million in 2014 before becoming a free agent. If the Indians trade all three of those guys, just for example, they will be chopping somewhere in the ballpark of $17 to $20 million from the payroll in 2012 alone.
This assumes that the Indians trade for younger prospects who aren’t making big-time MLB salaries. I think that’s a safe assumption as the Indians need to reload their farm system with all kinds of different players that any trade involving these guys will bring in younger, cheaper players. So, assuming that, the most cynical of fans will be left to once again proclaim that the Dolans are cheap and will do anything to become the Pittsburgh Pirates.
As Jon pointed out, no trade should be off the table for the Indians. There is just no sense in being overly protective of a 68-win team even if the manager needed to be replaced. This team needs to rebuild for sure. At the same time, it’s a bit of a scary proposition for a Tribe front office that also needs to prove to the fans that they are making moves to put a more competitive team on the field.
Then again, the Indians finished 29th in attendance for 2012 with only Tampa trailing. If the Indians feel like the team they put out there drew rock bottom attendance anyway, maybe it does free them up to do whatever they want with almost no repercussions to an already dwindling attendance number.
What I want the Indians to do is go ahead and rebuild that farm system by trading guys who were the core of a 68-win team that was outscored to catastrophic levels over the last two years. But in addition to that, I’m hoping that the Indians can at least sign a guy or two to help bridge the gap. I’m not looking for anymore Trot Nixon, David Dellucci or Johnny Damon types of signings, but this team needs some professional, veteran leadership in addition to Terry Francona. Without at least doing a token piece or two in free agency like that, I fear this off-season will too easily be sold as another “the Dolans are cheap” rant.
(Photo: Marvin Fong / The Plain Dealer)