Playing Fact or Fiction with the Latest Cleveland Indians Rumors
While some rumors hold little validity and are merely the product of Internet grumblings, others are legitimate and highly possible. However, whether a rumor is legitimate, or complete rubbish, doesn't mean that we shouldn't give it a second glance.
The Indians have been linked to a number of substantial rumors this offseason. So, to keep everyone up to speed, we're going to play fact or fiction with the latest rumors surrounding the Tribe.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
Indians Interested in Carlos Beltran
Rumor: Per Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, the Indians are among six teams with interest in Carlos Beltran's services.
Explanation: The Indians have the money to bring Beltran to Cleveland. The team's salary commitments are low, and with Beltran turning 37 prior to the 2014 season, it's unlikely that he'll be able to command the same $19 million salaries he once did.
With that said, it seems as though Beltran does not fit within the Indians current roster-building strategy.
The team, as a whole, is young. The 49 players who suited up for the Indians in 2013 have an average age of just 27 years old—per Baseball-Reference.com—, and they aim to get younger as prospects like Francisco Lindor, Tyler Naquin and Trevor Bauer near the big-league level.
Despite Beltran's advanced age, he's still a very good player. Over his two seasons in St. Louis, Beltran appeared in 296 games, totaling a .282/.243/.493 slash line, with 56 home runs, 56 doubles, 181 RBI, 162 runs scored and 15 stolen bases.
Statistically, Beltran would be a good fit for the Tribe, who could use another middle-of-the-order threat to pair up with Jason Kipnis. Even so, the organizational fit just isn't there at this moment.
The Indians have several outfielders under club control in Michael Brantley, Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs. On top of that, Nick Swisher could see a return to the outfield as the team looks to increase Carlos Santana's reps at first base.
Additionally, the Indians will likely be too preoccupied with re-signing some of their own free agents—e.g. Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez—to dump $12-16 million per year into Carlos Beltran's pockets.
Brian Wilson to the Indians?
Rumor: According to Yahoo's Tim Brown, the Indians are among seven teams who are the "most interested" in acquiring Brian Wilson.
Explanation: This is by far the most realistic rumor currently involving the Indians. The club recently cut closer Chris Perez and is in the market for a new closer.
Wilson, an eight-year veteran, is entering his age-32 season and is just over a year removed from his second Tommy John surgery. Although the success rate of pitchers returning from a second surgery is incredibly low, you'd never know it from watching Wilson last season.
The Beard was given the opportunity to pitch in a set-up role with the Dodgers last season and allowed a 0.66 ERA with a 0.88 WHIP and per-nine averages of 8.6 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and 5.3 H/9 over 13.2 innings pitched.
Wilson looked as though he had regained his pre-surgery form, as his fastball averaged 95.31 mph by October—per Brooksbaseball.net. If Wilson's velocity is truly back, he'd be a solid addition to the Indians bullpen while providing the team with a significant upgrade over Perez.
Financially, Wilson makes sense for the Indians. Given his injury history, the 31-year-old is likely to sign for significantly less than fellow closers Joe Nathan, Grant Balfour and Fernando Rodney, making the signing of Wilson a realistic option for a fiscally responsible team like the Tribe.
Drew Stubbs to Be Traded?
Rumor: According to ESPN insider Buster Olney (subscription required), Drew Stubbs is drawing interest from multiple teams.
Explanation: The Indians have a bit of a logjam building up in their outfield. The team already has three starting outfielders in Michael Brantley, Michael Bourn and Stubbs, but Nick Swisher could soon be forced back into the outfield.
With Yan Gomes figuring to take over everyday reps as the team's starting catcher, Swisher could slot in at right field with Carlos Santana taking over full-time duties at first base. Add in the possible arrival of Tyler Naquin as soon as August 2014, and the idea of trading Stubbs becomes much less far-fetched.
Stubbs could net the Indians a decent prospect, and, as Olney notes, the 29-year-old is capable of playing all three outfield positions while supplying excellent speed and decent power. The only knock on Stubbs is his inconsistencies at the plate, which result in high strikeout and low OBP totals.
The Indians may very well elect to hold on to Stubbs as their fourth outfielder, but with a financially savvy team like the Indians, trading Stubbs seems like the sensible route. According to MLBTraderumors.com's Tim Dierkes, the five-year vet is likely to earn $3.8 million through arbitration in 2014, making him a highly paid fourth outfielder should Swisher move to right field.
The Indians would be better served getting a prospect in return for Stubbs—possibly a reliever—and signing a cheaper alternative from the free-agent market.
Corey Kluber for Mark Trumbo?
Rumor: According to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian, Mark Trumbo is a potential trade target for the Indians this offseason, and Corey Kluber could anchor the return package.
Explanation: In Bastian's article, he notes that when Angels GM Jerry Dipoto was asked about the rumored Kluber for Trumbo swap, he replied with, "If that's the case, count me as the most shocked."
Though it seems like a resounding no, there still could be some validity to this rumor. The fit is there on both sides of the deal, as the Indians could use a power-hitting first baseman. Meanwhile, the Angels could desperately use a pitcher like Kluber who is young, cheap and under team control for several more years.
The Indians ranked right in the middle of the AL pack in home runs last season—per Baseball-Reference.com. Additionally, the team's most frequent lineup featured five left-handed hitters and four right-handed hitters.
The addition of Trumbo would certainly help bring power and balance to the Indians order. The 27-year-old owns 95 home runs over his first 460 games and a 162-game average of 33 home runs.
On the other side of the deal, Kluber could slot in well as the Angels No. 3 starter.
The young righty made 26 appearances and 24 starts—the most of his big league career—and allowed 3.85 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP over 147.1 innings pitched. Kluber's per-nine ratios were outstanding, as he averaged 8.3 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 9.3 H/9 and 0.9 HR/9.
Additionally, at 27 years of age, Kluber would be the second youngest member of the Angels rotation, as he's just one year older than potential No. 5 starter Tommy Hanson.
The acquisition of Trumbo would likely require an additional player, as he's surely worth more than a 27-year-old No. 3 starter. However, the addition of a prospect like Tyler Naquin could make this deal a reality.
Although Dipoto shot the deal down rather effortlessly, don't be surprised if the trade talks progress as we move toward the Winter Meetings.