Best Options From Remaining Free Agents
The Indians have done very little in terms of signing free agents this winter. That has come as a bit of a surprise to many fans of the team. After last year’s offseason spending spree that saw them sign Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, and Mark Reynolds, many expected something similar. So far it has been anything but a repeat performance. The Tribe has made a few minor moves with David Murphy as the biggest of their acquisitions thus far.
Chances are that the Indians aren’t done making moves this offseason. They still need to fill some holes in their pitching staff and could use an additional bat or two to help round out their lineup. But who is left on the free agent market that could be a realistic option for the Indians in 2014.? Well, I’m here to help. Here is a complete list of the most logical options for the Indians to sign from the remaining pool of available free agents. Brace yourselves, Tribe fans. By no mean is this a list of glamorous options.
1. Bronson Arroyo: As pointed out by Merritt Rohlfing, Arroyo brings a lot to the table in terms of consistency and durability. He is one of the few remaining starting pitching options that could make a significant impact with the Indians and also fit in a price range they are comfortable with. He remains unsigned and there has been very little in the way of rumors surrounding him. The longer he remains available, the better the chances for the Indians to sign him.
2. Grant Balfour: Up until a week ago, Balfour never would have been an option for the Indians. The combination of his age and the amount of dollar and years he was looking for just didn’t add up to a sound risk. But, now that the Orioles have declined to move forward with their agreement based on the results of his physical, one has to wonder if Balfour’s value will fall to a level that makes more sense for the Indians now that he is “damaged goods.” This still seems unlikely, but it is well in the Indians M.O. to sign a player in this type of situation. Stay tuned.
3. Jason Bay: Bay was rumored to be a target of the Indians last season, but opted to sign with the Mariners. He struggled mightily in 68 games with the Mariners. Could he find one last spark with the Indians? While Progressive Field has proven to be more of a pitcher’s park, it is far more friendly to hitters than Safeco Field. Bay could be ideal as a part-time DH option on one year deal.
4. Bruce Chen: Chen has been a solid contributor to the Royals over the past few seasons in both the rotation and out of the bullpen. He could look good as the fourth or fifth starter in the Indians rotation. He would also fill the role of left-handed starter that has been vacated by Scott Kazmir.
5. Octavio Dotel: The veteran reliever has done a great job throughout his career as both a closer and a setup man. With the Indians having lost several key members to their bullpen this winter, Dotel could step in and immediately help soften the blow. The question is, can the Indians afford Dotel, or will a team more desperate for pitching be willing to throw more money at the veteran righty?
6. Casey Kotchman: While I’m not a fan of signing Kotchman to be an everyday player, he could make sense as a part-time defensive replacement or as vertical depth on a minor league deal. He could hit and get on base just enough to make the singing worth it, but obviously the value of this signing is based on his defensive ability.
7. Paul Maholm: The left-handed throwing Maholm went 10-10 with a 4.41 ERA with the Braves in 2013. By no means was he dominant, but he was certainly a valuable piece to their rotation. At the age of 31 years old, he could be worth a two-year deal with a club option for a third. Again, this would allow the Indians to fill the left-handed void in the starting rotation.
8. Kendrys Morales: Morales is an intriguing option. Thanks to the leg injury he suffered with the Angels, his days as a first baseman are basically over. He is strictly a full-time DH at this point. However, what he lacks in mobility Morales more than makes up for with his ability to hit. He still has a substantial amount of power, he hit 23 homers in 2013 with the Mariners and drove in 80. The Indians could sign him to be their full-time DH and at 30 years old they could keep him around for a while.
9. James McDonald: McDonald had a rough go of things in 2013. With the Pirates he went 2-2 while only starting 6 games. He also posted an ERA that was close to 6. However, for his career, McDonald’s EAR is just barely over a 4 and he made 60 starts combined in 2011 and 2012. If he can get back on track, McDonald is a solid number 4 or 5 starter. Based on last season’s performance, he can probably be had for cheap as well.
10. Jayson Nix: In terms of available third base options, there isn’t much to choose from. In the case of Jayson Nix, he could be signed primarily for the purpose of depth. Or, if the Indians are feeling daring enough, he could serve as the second half to the third base platoon with Lonnie Chisenhall. Nix bats right-handed and has posted a .244/.320/.407 slash line against lefties for his career. That’s not great, but it’s certainly better than watching Lonnie Chisenhall hopelessly flail away at breaking balls low and away.
11. Lyle Overbay: He’s not the most appealing name out there, but what he does provide is decent power potential from first base. He would serve nicely as an option off the bench where Terry Francona could manage his amlunt of exposure and put him into positions to get the most out of him. As the winter wears on, it is likely that his price will continue to drop, thus making him that much more appealing.
12. Grady Sizemore: Why not? You never know…