Cespedes Could Be Right Piece To The Indians Puzzle
The Cleveland Indians are in a quandary when it comes to their payroll and finding a way to improve their roster this off-season. The tribe has about $10-$15 million to play with before they reach the Dolan’s imaginary cap for this season’s payroll; however, the addition of Corey Kluber, Cody Allen, along with other valuable young players to arbitration next off-season makes that $10-$15 Million spoken for when it comes to the 2015 off-season. This seriously hampers Chris Antonetti’s ability to offer any kind of long term deal to a potential free agent.
The Boston Red Sox have definitely made a splash already this off-season, as we have come to expect, but the Indians should take notice at who has become expendable to the Red Sox, not to whom they are adding. The Red Sox will likely be looking to move Yoenis Cespedes this off-season in a trade and he could be exactly what the Indians need.
The 29 year old Cespedes hit .260 with 22 HRs and 100 RBIss last season with Oakland and Boston and would fit into the Indians contractual puzzle. He is set to make $10.5 million dollars in 2015 but that is the last year of his deal, which makes his slightly inflated contract almost ideal for the Indians. He would provide power and production from the right side of the plate and in the middle of the lineup. He would likely push David Murphy into a utility outfielder’s role while elevating the Tribe defensively in right field. He is a better fielder than both Murphy and Ryan Raburn, and has a tremendous arm. Cespedes has never played right field although he recently has stated that he is open to it.
Cespedes has been very consistent in all three of his years in the majors, hitting between 22-26 HRs each year and driving in 80-102 runs per campaign. His production and ability to play right field every day would provide the Indians with a substantial upgrade in their lineup while fitting into the payroll jigsaw puzzle. The Indians front office would love to see one of their three outfield prospects: Tyler Naquin, James Ramsey, or Carlos Moncreif eventually become the every day right fielder. Cespedes would work a as a superb stop-gap for a season giving their prospects time to grow for another year. His one year deal would be off the books in time to make room for 2015’s off-season arbitration surge.
It will be the job of GM Chris Antonetti to find the right combination of prospects or maybe even a member of the Indians deep starting staff in order to make this trade work. One thing that will help the Tribe and hurt the value that Boston can command in return for Cespedes is that he has a non-tender clause written into his contract for after this season, meaning the draft pick that normally could be acquired by just offering Cespedes a qualifying offer next off-season won’t be there as he will be an unrestricted free agent. This is commonly the way international players’ contracts are written.
If Cespedes could be had, the Indians lineup would take on a different look of potency and power with improved defense in right field. $10.5 million for one year of an almost guaranteed 20 HR and 80 plus RBI right handed bat is worth every penny. The fact that it fits within the Indians delicate payroll framework is a factor that should weigh heavily on Antonetti, as not many other options will be compatible. The Indians would have their position players and starting staff in place for the most part with about $4 million left to go get a “back of the bullpen” arm. One would think that $4 million would be enough to accomplish that task. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but the Indians should take an opportunity like this very seriously, as not many other moves will provide so much upside within their financial restrictions.
By: Brad Ward
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***Original idea cited from IBI’s Tony Lastoria