11/07/10 12:00 AM EST
Tribe isn't planning on going to market
Club figures to be quiet in free agency this offseason
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
Free agents: RHP Anthony Reyes, C Chris Gimenez, C Luke Carlin.
Eligible for arbitration: LHP Rafael Perez (second year), OF Shin-Soo Choo, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RHP Joe Smith, 3B Andy Marte, RHP Chris Perez (likely a "Super 2") and RHP Jensen Lewis (likely a "Super 2"). Aaron Laffey will likely just miss "Super 2" status.
Player options: None.
Club options: None.
Non-tender possibilities: Marte. Areas of need
Third base: After July's Jhonny Peralta trade and the ensuing defensive trainwreck when Jayson Nix, Andy Marte and Luis Valbuena took over for the final two months of the season, this certainly qualifies as an area of need for the Tribe. Still, it's debatable how much they'd invest to fill this spot. Nix, who will be playing winter ball in Puerto Rico to sharpen his skills at the hot corner, is their primary internal option. The Indians basically need somebody to keep the position warm for Lonnie Chisenhall, who is one of their top prospects and will be at Triple-A Columbus. So, even if they do sign somebody, it is most likely to be a one-year deal. They might be more likely to just roll the dice with Nix or try to work out a trade than they are to make a signing.
Starting pitcher: Another area of need, as the Indians could certainly stand to benefit from having an experienced, dependable veteran in the mix. Jake Westbrook filled that role in '10, before he was traded to the Cards, and they'd probably love to have him back. Again, though, it's hard to see the Indians investing much money here, given their circumstances, and a trade might be more likely than a signing. The free-agent market for starters is often prohibitive. The Indians might decide they have enough depth in Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson, Carlos Carrasco, Mitch Talbot, Jeanmar Gomez, Josh Tomlin and David Huff to fill out the rotation.2011 Payroll
It's been a downward slope for the Tribe's player payroll in recent years, and the trend is expected to continue. Last year, the Opening Day payroll was $61.2 million, a 25 percent drop from the $81.6 million Opening Day payroll of 2009. The 2010 trades of Westbrook and Kerry Wood cleared even more money from the books. So even with the arbitration raises -- Choo's will be the biggest, as he'll go from $460,000 to about $4 million -- the figure will be somewhere between $40 million and $50 million, at most.