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Tribe Leaves Nashville Empty Handed

Indians fail to complete a single deal at Baseball’s Winter Meetings


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The Cleveland Indians went to Nashville to attend baseball’s annual winter meetings, but whether they went there with any purpose other than to just show up remains to be seen. The Tribe failed to complete a single deal, losing out to Boston for outfielder Shane Victorino, and failing to complete a trade that would have involved as many as four teams that would have seen Asdrubal Cabrera leave town for Arizona pitching prospect Trevor Bauer. The Indians also entertained the possibility of signing free-agent infielder Kevin Youkilis and outfielder Nick Swisher.

The Indians reportedly put a two-year deal on the table for Youkilis, but the Yankees have countered with a one-year $12 million deal and they want him to play third. Should he decide to go to the Tribe, they want him to play first. Given the likelihood that the Yankees are likely to be in the playoffs next fall while the Indians are relaxing at home, and that he would not have to switch positions, it seems likely that Youkilis will sign with New York before the end of the week.

Swisher would help the Indians simply because they have no outfield depth, but he is likely to command a deal that is equal to or higher than the one they offered Victorino. The Tribe had a four-year, $44 million offer on the table for Victorino, but he signed a three-year $39 million contract to play for the Red Sox instead. Swisher is not likely to think too long about going from a sure contender last year to a bottom-feeder like the Indians, so unless they come up with a blockbuster offer, expect him to land elsewhere this winter.

The Indians also lost out on outfielder Jason Bay, who signed a one-year deal with Seattle. Bay was an All-Star with Boston in 2005, 2006 and 2009, but after leaving Beantown for the Mets via a four-year, $66 million contract, Bay went south quickly. In three-seasons with the Mets, Bay hit just .234 with 26 homers and 124 RBIs. Last season, Bay hit for just .165 with 8 homers and 20 RBIs. Injuries plagued him during his tenure with the Mets, limiting Bay to just 288 games over three seasons. The Indians likely lucked out by not signing him given that they have already had to deal with a multi-million dollar outfielder who couldn’t stay healthy for the past three seasons.

It remains to be seen if the Indians will continue to shop right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, closer Chris Perez, shortstop Cabrera and pitchers Justin Masterson and Vinnie Pestano this winter. All five men could provide a big time player in return as well as a number of top prospects, something that the Indians are sorely lacking in their depleted farm system. The Tribe could also take the wait and see approach and try to move Choo and Perez at the trade deadline next July, but they’d be taking a huge risk because if either man gets hurt or gets off to a bad start, they’ll be hard to move.



By Robert Gonzalez
Cleveland Indians Correspondent