After a second half turnaround and an 81-80 finish for the Cleveland Indians, the Tribe missed the postseason by 4.5 games in 2015. Entering the offseason, the Indians have four players who will leave as free agents, Mike Aviles, Gavin Floyd, Ryan Raburn and Ryan Webb.
Aviles finished the season batting .231 through 98 games as a utility player, seeing most of his action in left field, filling in for Michael Brantley, who was troubled with a variety of injuries throughout the season.
Floyd, who the Indians picked up in the 2014 off-season, missed the majority of the year after getting a stress fracture in his throwing arm during spring training. He logged 13.1 innings in relief in seven games towards the end of the season while allowing four runs.
Raburn finished the season as a platoon player batting .301. The other half of his platoon, David Murphy, was traded to the Los Angeles Angels mid-way through the season. Raburn hit .325 in 70 games against left-handed pitchers last season compared to .136 versus righties in 22 at bats.
After being acquired from Baltimore, Webb logged 40 games in relief for the Indians while maintaining a 3.40 ERA. He logged 50.1 innings pitched on his way to a 1-0 record.
During the season, the Indians called up Jerry Sands, Giovanny Urshela and Francisco Lindor and moved Lonnie Chisenhall from third base to right field. Lindor and Urshela forced Chisenhall out of the infield and took infield starts away from Aviles and caused Chisenhall’s move to right field along with Sands call-up made Raburn and Murphy’s platoon replacable.
The Indians finished 32-21 after August 7. What was the difference for the Indians in their last 53 games? “Team Clank” graduated a few members and young talent from Ushela, Lindor and José Ramírez filled the gaps on the left side of the infield. After trading veteran players Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn at the deadline for Chris Johnson, the Indians were able to free up a roster spot and also save $2.5 million. The deal went through after the Indians decided to eat $5 million on both Swisher and Bourn’s contracts.
During the off-season, the Indians made some minor moves through Winter Meetings. The Indians traded the Angels for Collin Cowgill in exchange for cash considerations and dropped Nick Hagadone. Last season, Hagadone pitched 27.1 innings in 36 games while maintaining a 4.28 ERA, meanwhile Cowgill hit .188 in 69 at-bats, most of which came while playing left field.
In the past few weeks, the Indians signed both Rajai Davis and Mike Napoli. Davis, a 35-year old outfielder, played for the Tigers last season and hit .258 with eight homers and 30 RBI in 112 games. Napoli played 133 games for the Rangers last season while hitting .224 and hitting 18 homers. Both deals were 1-year deals.
What are the Indians strengths and weaknesses after MLB’s Winter Meetings in Nashville? Let’s review the team by the following major positions: starting pitching, infielders, outfielders, relief pitching and utility players.