Cleveland Indians (94-67)
Signed Edwin Encarnacion for 3 years, $60 million
Signed Boone Logan for 1 year, $5.5 million
Signed Austin Jackson to a minor-league deal
Signed Chris Colabello to a minor-league deal
Rajai Davis signed with Athletics
Mike Napoli signed with Rangers
The Indians came oh so close to winning the World Series for the first time in 58 years in 2016.
Unfortunately, they lost in seven games to the Cubs. Not only that, but they lost an 8-7 game in 10 innings in Game 7 and allowed the Cubs to come back from a 3-1 series deficit.
Yes, the heartbreak of that Game 7 loss and blown series lead still exists among the players, personnel and fans, and it will not go away any time soon. However, Cleveland has a really great chance this season at going from the agony of defeat in the World Series to experiencing the thrill of winning it all, just like their AL Central rival Royals did in 2015, after using this offseason to get their key pitchers healthy again and making one of the bigger splashes in free agency with the signing of Edwin Encarnacion.
Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco are back and ready to pitch after they both suffered season-ending injuries in September. Their arms give Cleveland a more complete staff after it heavily relied upon ace Cory Kluber and the Big Three in the bullpen in Andrew Miller, Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw throughout their run to the World Series. The Indians also have Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer, who pitched with a sliced right pinky during the World Series, plus signed Boone Logan to beef up the bullpen.
In regards to Encarnacion, the Indians inked him to a three-year, $60 million deal this offseason hoping that he can provide the big bat in their lineup, which was also missing in the playoffs outside of Rajai Davis’ game-tying two-run home run in Game 7 and Francisco Lindnor’s consistent play (.310/.355/.466). Encarnacion hit 42 homers and drove in 127 runs for the Blue Jays, who the Indians beat in the ALCS in five games.
The Indians did lose Davis and Mike Napoli to free agency, as Davis signed with the Athletics and Napoli took his bat (34 homers, 101 RBI last year) to the Rangers. They are also going to be without All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis for a couple of weeks with nagging inflammation in his throwing shoulder.
But All-Star Michael Brantley is back in the lineup after being injured last year and the Tribe are hoping Tyler Naquin and Jose Ramirez can continue their breakout performances from 2016. They also signed former White Sox and Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson and former Blue Jays outfielder/first baseman Chris Colabello to minor-league deals, with the hopes of them bouncing back from sub-par 2016 seasons, making the big league roster and giving them the extra pieces they need to compete for a championship.
With them totally in a win-now mode, the Indians may still need a piece or two to compete for a title. An extra starting pitcher to bolster the staff via the trade deadline, just like they did with Miller last year for the bullpen, or having No. 1 hitting prospect Bradley Zimmer join the club at some point midseason could help them end their championship drought.