The Cleveland Indians are consistently the best ballclub in the American League Central. The Kansas City Royals would be wise to consider their impending free agents.
2019 must be considered a down year for the Cleveland Indians. They still finished with 93 wins, which is two games better than in 2018. They not only failed to win the American League Central for the first time since 2015, but they also missed the playoffs for the first time since 2015. It’s worth noting that 30 of their wins this season came against the terrible Detroit Tigers and lousy Kansas City Royals.
Regardless of how their 2019 season ended, the Cleveland Indians remain the AL Central franchise to emulate. Their last losing season was in 2012. They do it in a city that is similarly sized to Kansas City and with a comparably-sized fanbase. If those are not enough reasons to respect their decision-making, they also succeed with a payroll that annually hovers right around league average.
Let’s take a look at Spotrac’s official list of the Indians’ upcoming free agents and decide whether or not they’d make good Kansas City Royals in the near future.
Adam Rosales, UT
Adam Rosales, in 2020, will be a 37-year-old utility infielder that failed to play above AAA in his most recent season. He will also be a 37-year-old utility infielder that failed to hit even at the AAA level, finishing with an OPS below .600. Do not even think about it, Dayton. Move along.
Dan Otero, P
Dan Otero was brilliant for the Indians in 2016 & 2017. Over those two seasons, he pitched in excess of 130 innings of 2.14 ERA baseball. He gave up 8 homers total during those innings combined. This season, he only made it through 29 innings and gave up 6 homers. It should be noted, however, that he still does not walk guys. Otero just does not issue walks.
He gave up 3 free passes last season. Total. You have to respect that. But you also must acknowledge that his sinker now averages lower than 90 MPH and that he appears to be regressing each season. Otero still would have been one of our decent bullpen arms in 2019, but only because our bullpen was bad.
Tyler Clippard, P
The 34-year-old version of Tyler Clippard was not all that different from Tyler Clippard when he was 30. He does give more home runs now than he did a few years back. But he also walks fewer guys. He still pitched more than 60 innings. He finished with more than 9 strikeouts per 9 innings. His WHIP was as low as ever. Clippard can still pitch. He would be a nice addition to any bullpen.
Ryan Flaherty, 3B
Flaherty is the quintessential AAAA player. He hits the ball in AAA and then comes up to the big leagues and cannot hit. I would not expect this to change going into his age-34 season. He is nothing more than minor league depth and should only be considered accordingly.
Jason Kipnis, 2B
Jason Kipnis seems to be living out Whit Merrifield‘s career in reverse. Or maybe Whit Merrifield is living out Kipnis’ career in reverse? Hmm. Either way, the “Curious Case of Jason Kipnis” burst onto the scene as a young man, spent his 20s years playing in All-Star Games as one of the league’s top second basemen, and – like Benjamin Button – has not aged particularly well. Kipnis appears to be 32 going on 40. He has not had an OPS over .800 since 2016. He does not really play second base very well anymore and he does not hit well enough to play designated hitter.
Yasiel Puig, RF
Yasiel Puig is never going to become the MVP that many thought he would when he first came into the league as a 22-year-old Los Angeles Dodger. But, somehow, Puig has gone from being overrated as a kid in this league to being underrated as he enters his prime years. Puig can play reasonable defense in the corner outfield spots. He hit 24 homers last season. He gets on base against both righties and lefties but does have some pronounced reverse splits in power hitting for his career.
His slugging percentage is 76 points higher against right-handed pitchers. That could pair nicely with Hunter Dozier in our lineup. Puig should also be available this season on a short-term deal so he can make himself available for one big contract before his prime seasons are over. He is the corner outfielder that the Kansas City Royals should be pursuing this offseason.