The Cleveland Indians won 93 games last year. In the three years before that they won 91, 102, and 94 and the AL Central title in all three years. They entered the 2019-20 offseason with, substantially, the same team from those four seasons and every reason in the world to think that they should be contenders for a division title in 2020.
They seem intent, however, on simply giving up.
Last weekend they traded Corey Kluber. Which, hey, I didn’t like that because I think he’ll be solid this season, but at least one can say “we won 93 without him in 2019, we can win without him in 2020.” Fine, for purposes of this conversation I’ll grant you that even if I think it’s less-than-rigorous analysis.
That they continue to shop their all-world shortstop Francisco Lindor and a team-controlled starter who put up a 174 ERA+ last season is another matter all together, though, is it not?
The latest on Lindor:
The Reds are the latest team to engage with the Indians about a potential Francisco Lindor trade, per source. It’s unclear if there’s any traction, but Reds have been aggressive on trade market before (Bauer, Puig) and have attractive trade chips (Senzel, India among them).
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 19, 2019
And Mike Clevinger:
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) December 19, 2019
The justification for trading Lindor has been that, hey, he’s getting more expensive in arbitration and one day Cleveland will lose him to free agency. That it’s the Reds calling Cleveland on that — a Reds team that, generally speaking, is not leaps and bounds richer than the Indians — kind of undercuts the justification. If the Reds are going for it, there is no reason on Earth the Indians shouldn’t be too.
As for Clevinger, who has put up a 2.96 ERA and fantastic peripherals over the past three seasons, the issue is not that the asking price is “sky high.” It’s that there should not be an asking price at all. He’s just entering his first year of arbitration and is under team control through the 2022 season. Why on EARTH would you trade a guy like that while you’re still in contention? That’s the kind of guy teams IN contention try to acquire!
The answer is, apparently, that the Indians ownership and front office aren’t all that interested with contention. Which should make Indians fans ask why they should be at all interested in the Indians in the first place.