April 24, 2014

Tribe’s offseason was made possible by low asking price for Bauer

The Cleveland Indians appeared to be resigned to the fact that another rebuilding process was on the horizon, having to unload their two All-Stars — shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and closer Chris Perez — for MLB-ready prospects. Conversely, the team held on to both players while making a slew of free agent additions, and now sit with one of the more intriguing lineups in the American League.

Terry Pluto of The Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that this — the $100+ million in free agent signings — was set in motion once the Arizona Diamondbacks were willing to trade prospect pitcher Trevor Bauer without the Indians having to include Cabrera in the deal.

“Many fans think the team’s change of direction began with the hiring of veteran manager Terry Francona,” Pluto writes. “That certainly signaled a new way of doing business. But what really energized the Tribe was trading Shin-Soo Choo to acquire Drew Stubbs and pitching prospect Trevor Bauer.

“The Tribe thought they’d have to include Asdrubal Cabrera in that deal, because they desperately wanted Bauer. When Choo (heading to free agency in 2014) helped them come up with Bauer, they wondered if they could retool rather than start a major reconstruction job.”

The $240 million sale of SportsTime Ohio to FOX Sports helped. The addition of Francona undoubtedly added some cache to a team in dire need of such. But the Indians, once they were able to flip one more year of Shin-Soo Choo for a starting outfielder and a 22-year-old, bat-missing prospect, the wheels began to turn.

Pluto acknowledges that the Indians’ rotation is still a question mark, but the front office was able to address issues in the outfield, first base and designated hitter without breaking apart the strength of the roster — the bullpen — or moving Cabrera for less than desired.

[Related: Michael Bourn says hello to Cleveland in introductory presser]