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Could Jim Thome find himself back in Cleveland for a third stint with the Indians?
The Cleveland Indians certainly addressed some needs this offseason, making moves to shore up their outfield (Nick Swisher), first base (Mark Reynolds) and the starting rotation (Brett Myers, Trevor Bauer).
But who will be their everyday designated hitter?
As of right now, no one will fill that role.
According to Indians beat reporter Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, the Tribe could use the position to provide rest for regular position players.
This from Bastian:
One thing that the Tribe has done this winter is continue to create an extremely versatile roster. All three starting outfielders can play multiple outfield positions, and right fielder Nick Swisher can even slide to first base if needed. First baseman Mark Reynolds can shift to third base in a pinch. Super sub Mike Aviles can play everywhere, and catcher Carlos Santana can play first. Yan Gomes, a catcher by trade, has experience at both corner infield spots, as well as the outfield.
All this positional versatility gives Cleveland the ability to give various players a day as a DH to provide rest for their legs, while keeping the regular lineup intact. Unless you have a bona fide run producer in hand who is willing to serve as the full-time DH, a revolving door featuring versatile players seems like the way to go.
While it's not an optimal solution, Bastian raises an important point. There is no viable solution on the open market unless the Tribe were to consider bringing back Travis Hafner or Jim Thome, as was suggested by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
Even then, neither would likely play every day. The Indians would need additional help against left-handed pitching.
No question that first-year manager Terry Francona will look for the best possible solution as he readies his team during spring training.