In 2016, the Cleveland Indians were just one win away from bringing the second major sports championship to The Land in under four months, a city that was without one for 52 years. With their core group returning in 2017 (and beyond), the Indians have plenty of hope heading into the upcoming season. Those high hopes became even more apparent when the team signed both power hitter Edwin Encarnacion and reliever Boone Logan this offseason to strengthen their lineup and bullpen.
Not many people, especially Cleveland fans, thought the Indians could afford to sign one of those players, let alone both. The top two names on the team’s wish list heading into the offseason, not even general manager Chris Antonetti thought the Indians were going to be able to sign one of the top free agents this winter. Although he knew he wanted to, he didn’t think ownership could afford to open their wallets that much.
Here’s what he had to say on Tuesday about the signings, according to cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes.
“At the start of the off-season, I didn’t think we had any chance to sign Edwin and Boone. Based on how well they’d performed and the price range they’d be in.
“It demonstrates ownership’s continued support and faith in our ballclub. … One of the things we sought to do this off-season was to find some balance for our bullpen – especially from the left side. We wanted to provide Tito (manager Terry Francona) with another option to match up with some tough left-handed hitters late in the game.”
Over the years, the owners of the franchise, the Dolan family, have been very reluctant to spend a lot of money, especially on free agents who weren’t already on the team. Whether you, as a fan agree with it or not, the Indians tended to sign (and acquire) players who were under market value and tried to get the best out of them. For some reason, 2017 was different. They saw the potential the team could have just by added two key pieces, knowing just how close they were this past November. Antonetti not only realizes that, but took full advantage of the Dolan’s decision to open the wallet a bit wider this winter.
With the addition of Encarnacion and Logan, the Indians now have one of the best lineups, rotations, and bullpens in baseball. Will it be enough to push them over the top?