Indians offseason: Relying on young arms

Jared Wickerham

With a few key pitchers headed for the open market, Cleveland will look to their young arms for a return to the playoffs.

For Cleveland, this offseason is likely to look much different than last year. At least in regard to the free agent market. When they signed Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher for a combined $104M, they improved their roster and limited their future payroll flexibility simultaneously -- which is typically the case for big-ticket free agent signings. But it was a bold move by GM Chris Antonetti, one that paid off in the form of the team's first playoff appearance since 2007.

On the trade market, Antonetti could make a similar splash this winter. The Indians were part of three-team trade last winter that landed them Trevor Bauer and other players in exchange for Shin-Soo Choo. And in the coming weeks, he could shop Asdrubal Cabrera. They have two exceptional shortstops in their farm system and Cabrera was underwhelming in 2013. According to the Hardball Times' Jeff Moore, hyper-prospect Francisco Lindor could see time in the majors in 2014.

More Cleveland stuff from Let's Go Tribe: Ubaldo Jimenez declines qualifying offer

Free agents

Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir, Joe Smith, Matt Albers, Kelly Shoppach, Rich Hill, Chris Perez, and Jason Kubel

Losing two-fifths of their rotation might not hurt as much as it sounds like it would. The Indians have Bauer and Danny Salazar ready to step in for Jimenez and Kazmir. The rest of the rotation is set with Justin Masterson, Zack McAlister, and Corey Kluber. But losing Albers and Smith won't be easy for Cleveland to replace -- if they fail to re-sign them.

Needs

3B, SP, RP

Lonnie Chisenhall has struggled in the majors despite his career .411 slugging percentage. He was briefly sent to the minors last season and slashed .390/.456/.676, so the Indians might not be ready to give up on him yet. Though it has been frustrating for Chisenhall and Cleveland so far, and a change might benefit both parties at this point. The team could decide to bring in a veteran to help Mike Aviles fill in in the infield for 2014. The same goes for the rotation. A vet who could help eat up some innings would be useful in acclimating Salazar and Bauer to major league workloads.

The bullpen could probably use a shot in the arm. Chris Perez is already gone, and the club could lose a few others as well. Relief pitching was a strength for the Indians and they'll do their best to make sure that's the case again in 2014.

Trade Pieces

Asdrubal Cabrera, Lonnie Chisenhall, prospects

Trading Chisenhall or Cabrera would be selling low, but Cleveland might prefer that to waiting. Chisenhall will be arbitration eligible after the coming season and Cabrera is set to become a free agent in 2015. The return on either player wouldn't likely be what it could've been a few years ago. Nevertheless, a trade -- especially in Cabrera's case -- would be the best way to guarantee a consolation. If Cabrera stays with the team through 2014 and heads for free agency, the Indians will be faced with an difficult decision on whether or not to extend him a qualifying offer. Of course, that's highly dependent in his production next year.

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