(Note: This article was written before the Cesar Hernandez trade to the Chicago White Sox)
As it currently stands, the Indians are 50-49, 8.5 games behind the Chicago White-Sox for first place in the American League Central, and five games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second American League Wildcard spot.
The Tribe is in a tough spot. They are a slightly above average team that isn’t completely rebuilding but also doesn’t have much of a chance to be competing for a World Series this October.
So what should they do?
Trade Bryan Shaw and Cesar Hernandez
Bryan Shaw and Cesar Hernandez are both having solid seasons this year, and are also both free agents after this season, which makes it obvious why the Indians should look to shop them. Shaw is on a cheap one-year deal and is playing well this season – posting a solid 3.18 ERA, a 1.4 WHIP, and an ERA+ of 144. With that production with such a cheap contract, Shaw should be on every playoff team’s radar.
Hernandez is a different story. Though he is hitting a mere .228 and has an OPS+ of 94, he has 17 homers this season, which is already a career-high for him. He is only making $5 million this year, combining that with his ability to switch hit the Indians could get a solid return for him at the deadline.
Make a Decision on Players Like Bradley Zimmer, Harold Ramirez, Yu Chang and Oscar Mercado
This season the Indians have been giving inconsistent playing time to guys like Zimmer, Ramirez, Chang, and Mercado, which isn’t helping them at all. A good example of this is Jake Bauers, who was getting inconsistent playing time with them before going to Seattle, where he has received much more consistent playing time and his numbers have improved. The Indians need to make a decision on whether these guys are part of their future or not and either trade or release the ones they believe are not. This way they can give consistent time to the players they believe in and can also call up top prospects.
Call Up Andres Gimenez and Nolan Jones
As of now, Gimenez and Jones seem to be key parts of the Indians’ future and instead of keeping them in the minors, they should give them an opportunity to play in the majors.
Gimenez started the year with the club, but got sent down due to poor play and he seems to be out of that slump. Gimenez is batting .264, slugging .489 and has an OPS of .817 down in Columbus. He may have had a terrible start to the year, but he deserves a chance to redeem himself this season.
Jones on the other hand has been one of the Indians’ top prospects for years now and fans have been wanting him with the Tribe for quite a while now. It is obvious they want to manipulate his service time; the timing is perfect for him to get called up.
If the Indians end up trading Hernandez, Shaw and some of the other players mentioned earlier, that would give the Indians multiple options for what they could do with Gimenez and Jones. They could start Gimenez as second and put Jones in the outfield (as he has been learning how to play out here down in the minors), or they could put Gimenez and Jones at shortstop and second and move Amed Rosario to centerfield which has been rumored recently.
No matter what the Indians do this deadline, one thing is clear: whatever moves they make this Friday could determine their future.