Diving into the depths: Cleveland Indians

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Cleveland Indians
Rotation
1. Jake Westbrook
2. Justin Masterson
3. Fausto Carmona
4. David Huff
5. Aaron Laffey
6. Carlos Carrasco
7. Mitch Talbot
8. Jeremy Sowers
9. Hector Ambriz
10. Hector Rondon
11. Rafael Perez
12. Jeanmar Gomez
Talbot, the product of the Kelly Shoppach trade with Tampa Bay, is the only new addition on the pitching side of the 40-man roster.
Westbrook and Masterson figure to enter camp as the only two locks for the rotation, but Carmona and Huff will certainly control their own destinies. If they turn in decent springs, then it should come down to Laffey, Carrasco and Talbot for the last spot. Carrasco is the biggest talent in the group, but the older pitchers may get the benefit of the doubt initially.
Bullpen
1. Kerry Wood
2. Chris Perez
3. Tony Sipp
4. Rafael Perez
5. Jensen Lewis
6. Joe Smith
7. Aaron Laffey
8. Jason Grilli
9. Jess Todd
10. Saul Rivera
11. Mitch Talbot
12. Jeremy Sowers
13. Hector Ambriz
14. Yohan Pino
15. Mike Gosling
16. Steven Wright
17. Neil Wagner
The bullpen is plenty deep, as the Indians have as many interesting relief prospects as any organization in baseball. I’m guessing Laffey will be in the rotation, opening up the last spot for Grilli. There’s been talk of moving Perez into the rotation as well, but the Indians don’t plan on making the switch this spring, since he wouldn’t be in a position to throw 180 innings this season anyway.


Catcher
1. Lou Marson
2. Mike Redmond
3. Carlos Santana
4. Wyatt Toregas
5. Chris Gimenez
First base
1. Matt LaPorta
2. Andy Marte
3. Jordan Brown
4. Shelley Duncan
5. Brian Buscher
Second base
1. Luis Valbuena
2. Mark Grudzielanek
3. Jason Donald
4. Brian Bixler
5. Luis Rodriguez
Third base
1. Jhonny Peralta
2. Andy Marte
3. Jason Donald
4. Brian Buscher
5. Luis Rodriguez
6. Wes Hodges
Shortstop
1. Asdrubal Cabrera
2. Luis Valbuena
3. Jhonny Peralta
4. Jason Donald
5. Luis Rodriguez
6. Brian Bixler
Redmond, who will back up either Marson or Santana, is the only free agent the Indians have signed to a major league contract.
The additions of Grudzy and Bixler suggest that the Indians aren’t sold on Donald as a platoonmate for the left-handed-hitting Valbuena at second base. Odds are that only one will be on the squad in Jamey Carroll’s old role, and Donald’s experience at shortstop might not help his case a whole lot, since Valbuena and Peralta can both play behind Cabrera there.
Left field
1. Michael Brantley
2. Austin Kearns
3. Matt LaPorta
4. Trevor Crowe
5. Jordan Brown
6. Shelley Duncan
Center field
1. Grady Sizemore
2. Michael Brantley
3. Trevor Crowe
4. Austin Kearns
Right field
1. Shin-Soo Choo
2. Austin Kearns
3. Jordan Brown
4. Trevor Crowe
5. Shelley Duncan
Designated hitter
1. Travis Hafner
2. Andy Marte
3. Shelley Duncan
4. Jordan Brown
5. Brian Buscher
I’m putting LaPorta at first base, since the Indians seem to have weaker alternatives there than in left field. I hope the Indians give Kearns every opportunity to take over in left. Brantley played well in 28 games after his callup last season (.313/.358/.348), but his .267/.350/.361 line from Triple-A was hardly awe inspiring. Kearns offers more short-term upside.

Indians’ postseason rotation is still up in the air

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 16: Starting pitcher Corey Kluber #28 of the Cleveland Indians pitches during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field on September 16, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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With Game 1 of the Red Sox-Indians ALDS set to commence on Thursday, there’s no better starter for the job than Corey Kluber. The only question is whether or not the right-hander will be up to the task after sustaining a mild quadriceps strain earlier this week.

Indians’ manager Terry Francona appeared optimistic about Kluber’s chances of recovering in time for the Division Series, but admitted that he doesn’t have his rotation set in stone for the first couple of postseason games. Complicating matters is Monday’s potential make-up game between the Indians and the Tigers, which they’ll be forced to play if the outcome has bearing on playoff seeding.

Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Francona doesn’t have a starter for the make-up game, either, though he clarified that rehabbing right-hander Danny Salazar would not be eligible. Salazar is still working his way back from a forearm injury in hopes of joining the Indians for their postseason run, and needs to toss another simulated game before he can be expected to return to the mound. Kluber, meanwhile, will throw off the mound on Sunday.

With Kluber or Salazar limping out of the gate, the Indians will likely have to fall back on right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Bauer is slated for Saturday’s face-off against the Royals and confirmed his willingness to pitch on short rest through the playoffs. The 25-year-old also spoke to the Indians about his ability to pitch out of the bullpen, though it’s an option they appear unlikely to exercise. While Francona’s comments on Friday stressed the club’s patient approach toward their rotation, Bauer appeared revved and ready to go:

If it was up to me, […] I’d pitch and be ready to start or be available out of the ‘pen every game. In the playoffs, there’s really no reason to save anything. So, whenever I can get in there, whenever they want me to get in there, I’ll be ready.

Matt Holliday wants to return in 2017

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 30: Manager Mike Matheny #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals congratulates Matt Holliday #7 of the St. Louis Cardinals after he hit a solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium on September 30, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Matt Holliday might not have a landing spot with the Cardinals in 2017, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to hang his cleats up just yet. Prior to the Cardinals’ afternoon set against the Pirates on Saturday, the 36-year-old expressed his desire to further his career elsewhere, even if staying in St. Louis is not a possibility.

It’s been a down year for the outfielder, who batted .242/.318/.450 through 107 games before landing on the disabled list with a fractured right thumb. His 0.6 fWAR is the lowest mark of his career to date. Notwithstanding two injury-riddled seasons (he was sidelined through most of 2015 with a right quadriceps strain), he’s performed admirably for the Cardinals over the past eight years, putting up a .292/.379/.494 batting line, 156 home runs, and 26.8 fWAR with the club. With a return to full health, he might not be on the market for long.