The Indians are in deep financial trouble

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The Akron Beacon-Journal reports that the Cleveland Indians are on pace to draw around 1.16 million people this year. The problem: The Indians’ front office made a budget that assumed attendance of
1.5 million.

Which was actually a conservative assumption, as the team drew 1.766 million last year.  A year that was profoundly disappointing and saw the team sell off two if its marquee players — Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez — in mid-season. I’m no economic expert, but assuming a 250K drop in gate was probably pretty smart. But obviously it’s been way worse than that, and the Indians look poised to finish in the red for a second year in row.  ”Even with revenue sharing, we won’t break even,” said the team’s V.P. of business operations.

Last year the Tribe  dumped salary to try and minimize the losses. Such a move will be much harder this year as two of the biggest contracts — Travis Hafner and Kerry Wood — look to be all but untradeable right now.  Grady Sizemore is hurt, but even then, he’s only owed a reasonable $5.6 million this year (though taking the $16.5 million total he’s owed for 2011 and 2012, buyout included, off the books could help). Jake Westbrook is owed $10 million or so. He might be moveable.

But that’s just working around the edges.  No matter what happens, it appears that Cleveland is going to continue to hemorrhage money for the time being.

The Orioles seem pretty serious about moving Manny Machado

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there has been no suggestion that the O’s and their young star have worked on a contract extension, strongly suggesting that Machado will test the open market next offseason.

While the Orioles have not said much about keeping him or trading him, yesterday considerable chatter filtered out here at the Winter Meetings suggests that they are serious about trading him now in order to get more than a draft pick in return when he eventually leaves Baltimore.

Jon Heyman reported yesterday that the Cardinals were a possible landing spot, and others have speculated that, at the moment, they’re the frontrunners for his services. Buster Olney, in a development that would make people go insane, I suspect, that the Yankees have expressed interest. It seems highly unlikely, though, that the Orioles would trade Machado within the division. Even if they did, they’d likely expect a premium from the Yankees that they would be unwilling to pay, especially given that they could easily wait Machado out until he was a free agent next year and give up nothing but cash for him. A couple of days ago we noted that the Phillies had expressed interest and the Orioles were doing their due diligence with respect to their farm system.

As far as the possible parameters of a deal, Ken Rosenthal reported that the O’s hope to acquire at least two controllable young starters in return. That’s a high price for a one-year Machado rental, but it makes sense for the Orioles to ask it. For Machado’s part, he reportedly wants to return to his original position, shortstop. He does not have no-trade protection, of course, so that may be a wish that is not fulfilled.

Machado had a down 2017, hitting .259/.310/.471, but still hit 33 homers and drove in 95 runs. In the two years prior, however, he posted OPSs of .876 and .861, and he’s still just 25. All of which is to say that the price for a team to acquire him will be high, even if he’s entering his walk year.