By: Noah Wright
The Cleveland Indians have stated before that they are in need of some payroll relief. While they have stated that they may even go so far as to shopping some of their top tier guys like Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, I feel there are other areas in where The Indians could pull a salary dump to create some payroll space. Mainly, I’m going to be looking at trades that help The Indians current financial situation. At the end, I’ll try to estimate how much they saved in total.
The first player they should try and deal is Edwin Encarnacion. While Edwin failed to reach 38+ home runs in 2018, he was still a decent offensive force for The Indians as their DH. He hit 32 home runs, and drove in 107 RBI’s, marking his fourth year with 100+ RBI’s. His overall slashline of .246/.336/.474 with 115 wRC+ represents an overall solid season. The reason that they should pursue a trade with Encarnacion is because he’s a 1B/DH only player. The Indians could afford to lose a player like that. However that’s part of the problem of trading him as well. Like I said, Edwin is a 1B/DH only player, but he’ll be getting paid $21 million next season, and even though his overall offensive output is decent, it’s probably not worth $21 million. I do think however The Indians can still deal him off though and not have to eat a whole bunch of money in the process. One spot I could see The Indians try to deal Edwin off to is The Yankees. The Yankees could use a firstbaseman since they don’t really have a good answer over there. Plus with some payroll to spend, The Indians may not have to eat that much cash. Encarnacion could share 1B/DH duties with Stanton, adding another large power bat to a very good Yankee team. Another spot The Indians could try to shop Encarnacion off to is The Astros. The Astros have a solid 1B and DH with Yuli Gurriel and Evan Gattis, but I think they could get more production at first. That’s where Encarnacion plays a role. However unlike The Yankees, The Astros don’t have the payroll abilities, and The Indians may have to eat more contract to send him to The Stros.
The next player The Indians could try and deal off is Yonder Alonso. The Indians signed Yonder Alonso to a 2 year deal with an option for a third year last off season. Alonso did OK in his first season in an Indian uniform, but nothing super noteworthy. He batted .250/.317/.421 with 23 home runs and 83 RBI’s. He had 97 wRC+, so in total he was about league average. Next year he will be paid $8 million. While that may not be very much, I think a trade involving him could free up some payroll space. I have stated before that a package of him and Nolan Jones, one of The Indians’ third base prospects, could be sent to The Mets for Michael Conforto. It would save The Indians about $4 million, since Conforto is estimated to earn about $4 million in arbitration.
The last player The Indians could try and move is Danny Salazar. Salazar missed all of the 2018 season with injury, but MLB Trade Rumors projects him to make $5 million this season through arbitration. With a cheap deal, and history of being a solid starter, having a 3.65 ERA, 3.67 FIP, and 1.219 WHIP in 322 and a third inning between 2015 and 2016. I think a good spot for The Indians try to ship Salazar off to is The Phillies. The Phillies could use a mid rotation starter to bolster their rotation, and The Indians have 4 good starters, and some young arms like Adam Plutko, Shane Bieber, and by the end of 2019, Triston McKenzie who could fill in that 5th spot.
In total, I think if The Indians try to trade off some of these players, they could get at most $24 million. That could easily cut costs, and be enough to sign some players to fill in first base, DH, and maybe 2B, but also keep the team in the playoff hunt since they would still have Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Yan Gomes, Kluber, Crassaco, Trevor Bauer, and Mike Clevinger. Also maybe Conforto if they decide to go through with the trade idea with The Mets.