The Cleveland Indians offseason has featured a bevy of moves. No, they haven’t dealt away a frontline starter. On the contrary, they have shipped out a handful of aging well-knowns for a mixed bag of major league talent and prospects. Out are Yan Gomes, Edwin Encarnacion, Yonder Alonso, and Yandy Diaz. In are Daniel Johnson, Jefry Rodriguez, Andruw Monasterio, Carlos Santana (hello, old friend), Jake Bauers, and Alex Call. Only two of the previously mentioned names are locks to be a prominent part of the Indians 2019 pennant chase, yet one or two more may surface as options throughout the campaign.
The newest of the new Indians are products of the Edwin Encarnacion, Yonder Alonso, and Yandy Diaz trades that occurred late last week. Carlos Santana needs no introduction – the former Tribe mainstay is back in Cleveland, mostly brought on as a way of smoothing out the inordinate salary owed to Encarnacion in 2019. Moreover, Santana allows the Indians more flexibility from a roster standpoint, by being able to wield a glove without tipping over (sorry, Edwin) and offering a more than zilch against left-handed pitching (not so sorry, Yonder). To top it off, he is adequate on the bases and frees up a designated hitter spot to pick and choose where to disseminate plate appearances.
Selling low on Edwin Encarnacion was perplexing, but makes sense given the scope of money owed and age. Bringing back a fan favorite doesn’t hurt the public relations venture, either. However, shipping out Yonder Alonso was a blessing. Color me shocked that the Indians didn’t have to pay the division rival Chicago White Sox to take Alonso and his incoming eight-million-dollar salary off their hands. Color me more shocked that they got a flier prospect in return. Not a flier of the Ryder Ryan variety, who the Indians shipped out for Jay Bruce, but a flier with actual potential in Alex Call.
Call, a 24-year-old outfielder who was far from overmatched in AA last season, was in a vicious prospect logjam over on the south side of the windy city. He is well-rounded overall, without a glaring weakness. The biggest knock may be that he doesn’t have a redeeming skillset to bet on being plus value. Perhaps his ceiling is as a fourth outfielder, or perhaps he flames out even prior to the big leagues. Still, getting a guy with a 50-grade hit tool, power, speed, and fielding for an underwater contract is a steal in its own right. He should provide some entertainment for fans of the Akron Rubber Ducks next summer.
Accompanying him in the Rubber Duck garbs should be Andruw Monasterio, who officially became an Indian yesterday as the back half of the player-to-be-named-later in the Yan Gomes deal. A super athletic infielder who can field his position doesn’t do him justice. Though there is no sign of power in his plate approach, he boasted a walk percentage nearly as high as his strikeout percentage in high-A last season. Oh, and he was only 20 for most of the year. As we know, age versus level is one of the most fun indicators of player development, and Monasterio should be hitting the AA level as a 21-year-old kid in Akron.
The final unfamiliar new name would be Jake Bauers, who WFNY’s Mike Hattery covered in great detail. The first baseman turned outfielder offered a compelling 2018 rookie campaign, as a big leaguer at just 22 years of age. For next level details, I suggest reading the previously attached piece, but in short – he is a potentially plus power guy who walks a ton and has the capacity to steal upwards of fifteen bags in a season. He can play first base and outfield, with breakout potential in his back pocket. The Indians exchanged five years of 27-year-old Yandy Diaz for five years of 22-year-old Jake Bauers.
In an offseason that feels less than complete, some of these prospects provide compelling cases for future breakouts. Indians fans will not take solace in that as further action is needed to bolster the 2019 roster but restocking the shelves at the lower levels may come in handy down the line.
If podcasts are your thing, check out WFNY’s Mike Hattery and Gage Will discuss the Indians new arrivals.
— WaitingForNextYear (@WFNYCLE) December 18, 2018