Cleveland Indians Winter Meetings: What Could Happen in Vegas

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What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Except when it deals with Major League Baseball’s winter meetings. Will the Cleveland Indians steal the show by making a blockbuster move? Here’s a sample of what might happen.

The big question surrounding the reigning American League Central Division champions, will they trade one of their starting pitchers?

Two time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber is number one on that list. It’s no secret, the Indians have discussed trade scenarios for Kluber. One destination could be the Los Angeles Dodgers. The big name being mentioned in return is outfielder Yasiel Puig.

Cleveland needs to add a veteran outfielder who can hit for power. Puig would fit both needs. However, does manager Terry Francona want to deal with the baggage that comes with the right handed slugger?

Talks will take place involving Kluber. Will a deal happen over the course of the Winter Meetings? Don’t be shocked no matter if a trade takes place or not.

So how about Trevor Bauer? Anybody can  be had for the right price. Before going on the disabled list. Bauer was clearly establishing himself as the Indians ace of the pitching staff. He could have been a top three finalist for the Cy Young Award over Kluber barring injury.

Based on his performance in 2018, why would Bauer be a possible trade candidate. The answer is based on events off the diamond. The Indians could grow very tired of some of his antics. Bauer waged a war on twitter with Houston Astros slugger Alex Bregman. There are also concerns about suffering another finger injury using his drone similar to what happened during the 2016 playoffs.

One thing is for sure, one of the Indians top three starting pitchers is off the market. Carlos Carrasco is signed through the 2022 season. It’s one goal crossed off the Indians checklist for the 2018-2019 offseason.

Ownership wants to cut payroll entering Spring Training in 2019. One guy who could be off to a new team is designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion. The Indians spent big bucks for his services the last two seasons. He provided much needed power from the right side of the plate, but it didn’t result in more that back to back division titles. The time is right for the tribe to try and unload their high priced designated hitter.

The Indians were very thin in the outfield all season long in 2018. Completed trades so far this offseason has restocked the farm system, but what about adding some Major League outfield help. It has to be high on the Indians to do list.

If there is one free agent who would be a nice fit in the short term, it’s former National League Most Valuable Player Andrew McCutchen. The former Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees outfielder might be on the downward half of his career. However his veteran presence can be an asset both on the field and in the clubhouse. That’s something that has been missing these last two seasons.

McCutchen can be had for a decent price, likely less than what the Indians paid Michael Brantley in 2018. Speaking of Brantley, could he return to the Indians. The front office decided to decline his player option for 2019. It remains to be seen whether he can still be an everyday left fielder. Brantley appears willing to play first base as a way to help increase his stock this off season.

If Brantley returns to Cleveland to be a first baseman, then what do you do with Yonder Alonso? Can a deal be made for Jason Kipnis despite his contract? President Chris Antonetti and the front office certainly has some decisions to make before heading to Goodyear, Arizona next February. So will a few decisions be made this week just a few miles up the road in Las Vegas? Place your bets and see what comes up.

Scott Piker is the Cleveland BrownsCleveland Cavaliers and Cleveland Indians Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage.com. So follow him on twitter @ScottPikerSport

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