Friday, February 16, 2018

The Cleveland Indians' window might close, but it's not because of that reason.

One of the narratives that have been going around in this unusual offseason is that the Cleveland Indians' window is closing. Some people used that as part of an argument for them to make some moves and go all in, others just stating that there is a lot of pressure on them to win it all this year.

That notion is simply wrong.

It goes without saying that things happen, things no one predicts and this might be the last year the Indians enter the season as the clear-cut favorites, but that doesn't make such scenario likely.

A variety of reasons contribute to that, but before we dive into Cleveland specifically, let's look around the AL Central and see what potential threats the Indians will face.

The Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, and Chicago White Sox are all in early stages of big full-on rebuilds, with basically zero shot of really competing in the next couple of years.

The White Sox and Tigers are ahead in their rebuilding stage, and I'd give them 3 years before really competing at least. The Royals well it will be a while.

The only other team left is the Twins, a team in transition, coming off an 85 win season with a lot of talent, but you don't really know yet.

As much as I am high on Buxton, Sano is a DH, Dozier a free agent to be, after that nothing really jumps off the page, Berrios has potential but you don't really know what you are getting yet. The farm system is good, which helps, and maybe they hit it with one of these guys, but the Indians are just better, and barring really significant changes will continue that way for the near future.

Addressing the Indians' situation, people are making too big a deal of Miller and Allen being free agents at the end of the year. They are important, but contrary to what you are led to believe in, relief pitchers don't affect teams windows of contention.

The Washington Nationals were a great team in the first half of last year with a lousy bullpen, if you have a good offense and good starting pitching it's more than a manageable situation. Yes in the postseason it would hurt them, but I'll tell you this it'd hurt the Twins more to lose Brian Dozier.

Analyzing their situation, the Indians are a low budget team, but they also have 3 of their 4 biggest assets signed to long-term super team friendly contracts in:

Carlos Carrasco, 33/4 a couple of team options.

Corey Kluber, 51/4 also a couple of team options, based on escalators could go up to 59/4.

Jose Ramirez, 48.4/6 two team options as well.

And the fourth one Francisco Lindor has four years of control left.

Edwin Encarnacion and Jason Kipnis are the closest things they have to long-term, big financial commitments and they can come off the books as early as 2020, with a combined 7.5 mil buyout.

This is also a team with Bradley Zimmer, Trevor Bauer. Danny Salazar, Francisco Mejia, and several other important assets.

Their projected payroll for 2017 is 136.4 mil

For 2018 is 119.7 which means they will:

1, have the opportunity to resign one of them, with some creativity maybe both.

2, in the event they choose to sign elsewhere, on a deep free agent pool, Antonetti will surely find a way to replace them.

Summing it up, the Indians have:

Literally no dead weight in payroll.

Future flexibility.

A great high-end talent on both ends of the ball, with Kluber and Carrasco leading the staff, Ramirez, and Lindor anchoring the lineup.

Which when combined together, makes for a very good outlook.

Kluber and Carrasco are 31 and 30, but the position players are very young and they should be fine for at least the next couple of years.

Just like in most teams, there are red flags, they might very well collapse earlier than i think, but when their window closes it won't be because they lost Miller and Allen, that I know for sure.

Whether it's solid replacements, resigning either one of them, they'll be fine.

Relief pitching impact is bigger in the postseason, don't forget that.

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