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Grading the First Half of the Offseason: AL Central

The Indians have done some work at first base, while a few other teams made some moves.

Detroit Tigers v Cleveland Indians Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images

We are just about halfway through January, and nearly a month away from the start of Spring Training.

Let’s check out and grade how every American League Central team has done this offseason, listed in order of their 2018 regular season records.

Cleveland Indians: A
2018 record: 91-71
The Indians made the first big trade off the offseason in mid-November when they sent pitchers Dante Mendoza and Tahnaj Thomas, as well as infielder Erik Gonzalez, to the Pittsburgh Pirates, bringing outfielder Jordan Luplow and infielder Max Moroff to Cleveland. Days later, they made two smaller separate trades, getting righty Chih-Wei Hu from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for infielder Gionti Turner, and righty Walker Lockett from the San Diego Padres in exchange for righty Ignacio Feliz. They made an even bigger trade on the last day of November, sending away talented catcher Yan Gomes to the Washington Nationals for pitcher Jefry Rodriguez, outfielder Daniel Johnson and second baseman Andruw Monasterio. Then, when the Winter Meetings concluded, they made their biggest trade of the offseason as their front office staff boarded their flight from Las Vegas to Cleveland. They sent Edwin Encarnacion and cash to the Seattle Mariners while flipping infielder Yandy Diaz and pitcher Cole Sulser to the Tampa Bay Rays. In return, Cleveland received two first basemen: Jake Bauers from Tampa Bay and Carlos Santana from Seattle. (To complete the trade, the Rays sent cash to Seattle.) Two days later, Cleveland flipped first baseman Yonder Alonso to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Alex Call, completing sixth trade in just over one month. They weren’t done quite yet though. Their first trade of 2019 came when they acquired Kevin Plawecki from the New York Mets in exchange for minor-leaguers Walker Lockett and Sam Haggerty. They also claimed pitcher A.J. Cole off waivers from the New York Yankees. While the Indians haven’t made any major-league deals, on six different occasions they have signed players to minor-league deals and invited them to Spring Training. Plus, they made half-a-dozen trades (and may not be done yet, with rumors of a potential Corey Kluber trade). It’s been a strong offseason for the reigning AL Central champs, who look to be on their way to earning that honor for a fourth straight season in 2019.

Minnesota Twins: B
2018 record: 78-84
The Minnesota Twins had a quiet start to their offseason. On the first day of November, they lost outfielder Johnny Field to the Chicago Cubs and righty Oliver Drake to the Rays via the waiver process, while losing pitcher Aaron Slegers to the Pittsburgh Pirates the same way just a few days ago. Their only trade of the offseason (so far) occurred on November 20th, when they finalized a small deal with the Miami Marlins to bring third baseman Brian Schales to the Twin Cities while sending righty Nick Anderson to Miami. Potentially their biggest move of November came when they claimed first baseman C.J. Cron off waivers after the Rays surprisingly designated him for assignment. Their December was also quiet, adding second basemen Ronald Torreyes and Jonathan Schoop. They also signed talented designated hitter and outfielder Nelson Cruz in December, however it wasn’t officially announced until January. Sure, the Twins haven’t made any moves that will make them significantly worse. But they haven’t done a whole lot that makes them look like a team that will be able to produce a .500+ season in 2019. A lot more work needs to be done if they can be considered a legitimate playoff contender.

Detroit Tigers: C+
2018 record: 64-98
The Detroit Tigers struggled in 2018, and it looks like they will continue on that track in 2018. They’ve made several transactions this offseason, but nothing that should suggest they will be able to compete with Cleveland or Minnesota. They started off their offseason by claiming southpaw Jose Fernandez and second baseman Brandon Dixon off waivers. They also claimed righty Reed Garrett off waivers, while losing outfielder Mike Gerber the same way. Next, they inked pitchers Eduardo Paredes, Chris Smith, Louis Coleman, and Jose Cisnero, infielders Kody Eaves and Pete Kozma, and catchers Kade Scivicque and Bobby Wilson to minor-league contracts with invites to major-league spring training camp. Finally, they agreed to major-league contracts with pitchers Matt Moore and Tyson Ross, as well as shortstop Jordy Mercer.

Chicago White Sox: B-
2018 record: 62-100
The White Sox lost 100 games in 2018. They’re on track for a better 2019 season, but not good enough to be a legitimate playoff candidate yet. Chicago swapped players four times in November. They lost southpaw Ian Clarkin to the Chicago Cubs via the waiver process, but got him back the same way less than a week later. Meanwhile, they finalized two trades, sending third baseman Justin Yurchak to Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for southpaw Manny Banuelos. They continued making moves in December, sending righty Ivan Nova to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for minor-leaguer Yordi Rosario and cash. They also received Yonder Alonso from Cleveland in exchange for Alex Call. They made their first big-league signing six days before Christmas when they inked a deal with catcher James McCann. They are amping up their pursuit of Manny Machado; first, with their acquisition of Alonso, who is Machado’s cousin, and then later signing Machado’s training partner, Jon Jay, last week. Meanwhile, Chicago also inked a deal with reliever Kelvin Herrera. The future looks bright for the White Sox, especially if they can add Machado.

Kansas City Royals: C
2018 record: 58-104
They started off their offseason by adding two right-handed pitchers: Conner Greene via waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals, and Michael Ynoa on a minors pact with an invite to Kansas City’s big-league spring training camp. They also added righties Jason Adam and Andres Machado, first baseman Samir Duenez, and outfielder Bubba Starling on minor-league deals with big league camp invites, while bringing in righty Chris Ellis from the Texas Rangers in exchange for cash. They also made a trio of major-league outfield additions in December, signing Chris Owings, Billy Hamilton, and Terrance Gore. The minor transactions continued into 2019; they brought back righty Kyle Zimmer on a major-league deal while losing outfielder Rosell Herrera to the Miami Marlins via waiver. It will be a while before the Royals dig themselves out of the deep hole they are in.