12/04/09 12:00 AM ET
Extra starting depth would be Tribe luxury
With budget more than tight, significant moves unexpected
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
Starting pitcher: This is an area of depth but also an area of question marks for the Indians. The starting pitching outlook is the central reason why the Indians aren't counted as a probable contender in the American League Central next year. Jake Westbrook is returning from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery and hasn't pitched in the big leagues since May 2008. He's the Indians' No. 1 starter. Fausto Carmona is a long way away from his 19-win form of '07, and Justin Masterson, Aaron Laffey, David Huff, Jeremy Sowers and Carlos Carrasco all have something to prove, to varying degrees, at the big league level. Another veteran to stabilize this unit would be welcome, but it's doubtful the Indians could afford anyone of major impact.
Utility infielder: This position has meant more to the Indians, who value versatility, than most Major League teams in recent years. Jamey Carroll saw more action than the average utility guy in '09, and he spelled rookie second baseman Luis Valbuena against left-handed starters last season. The Indians will likely afford Valbuena similar protection in '10, so a right-handed bat for this spot is a must.
Right-handed bat: Matt LaPorta figures to be the Tribe's regular at first base next year, with some time in left field, but he'll be coming off offseason hip and toe surgeries, and there is some question as to whether or not he'll be ready for Opening Day, so it would help to add somebody who can man first and left. Furthermore, the Tribe lineup in general leans toward the left-hand side, so the Indians could benefit from adding another right-handed bat to the mix. Andy Marte, who is out of Minor League options, is an in-house option if the Indians don't sign anyone.
Who they can or need to trade
RHP Kerry Wood: A year ago, Wood was the Tribe's high-priced, high-profile signing at the Winter Meetings. Now, he's trade bait, though it's doubtful anybody's going to bite on his $10.5 million contract. The Indians might be better off holding on to Wood and shopping him at the July non-waiver Trade Deadline.
3B Jhonny Peralta: He is entering the final year of a contract that will pay him $4.6 million next season, and it's questionable as to whether Peralta's in the club's '11 plans, particulary if Lonnie Chisenhall or Wes Hodges blossom in the Minors. It's doubtful, however, that the Indians would get a worthwhile return for Peralta's services.
C Carlos Santana and Lou Marson, OF Michael Brantley, RHPs Carrasco, Rondon, Jeanmar Gomez, Alex White and Jason Knapp, LHP Nick Hagadone and Kelvin De La Cruz, 1B/OF Jordan Brown, 3B Lonnie Chisenhall and Wes Hodges, SS Jason Donald and Carlos Rivero, OF Nick Weglarz. Hard to imagine the Indians moving any of these guys, unless a team shows legit interest in a guy like Brown, whose path might be blocked by LaPorta and Brantley.
Big contracts they might unload:
RHPs Anthony Reyes and Jose Veras, LHP Rafael Perez.
The Indians have about $48.5 million tied up in guaranteed contracts for six players for next season. The club isn't expected to carry more than a $60 million payroll for '10, so obviously there's not much room for additions to the current roster.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.