The Indians have 3 big holes to fill this offseason, but limited resources. Can 15 million buy a quality player for the rotation, infield, and bullpen? The Indians will have to get creative with trades or free agent signings. It doesn’t seem like the Tribe’s way to spend big money on a starter, so expect most of the money to go toward the bullpen and/or infield. Instead of paying for a top notch closer like Francisco Rodriguez or Brian Fuentes, it would be smarter to give the job to a set-up man like Juan Cruz. Trevor Hoffman is the exception because he is a possible bargain. So, 4-7 million goes toward the ‘pen. A reclamation project could be imported on the cheap. Freddy Garcia could make sense for 5 million. With the remaining money, a guy like Mark Grudzielanek or Joe Crede could be added on a short-term deal. This could be the way it happens; they sign Hoffman, Grudzielanek, and Garcia all to short-term contracts. It seems like the thing Mark Shapiro would do: no risk, some upside.
A big free agent could be signed, however. Orlando Hudson finds himself in a bad market for second baseman, and could come at a below market price. Maybe for 8 million or so he could make sense. Then use 7 million on Hoffman and hope for the best with your starting pitching. Maybe even sign a guy like Jon Garland. Use the remaining money on Grudzielanek or Cruz and settle with internal options for the other positions.
The other possibility would be to make a trade. Kelly Shoppach could be moved to fill one of the holes. With so many teams interested in catching help, he could draw something nice. If they believe that Michael Bowden can make a good impression in his rookie year, he could be aquired for Shoppach. Ty Wiggington from the Astros is an option if other pieces are involved. Don’t bring up Jose Valverde; he will cost the same as Trevor Hoffman for the same amount of years, one. The Tribe would be much better off with Hoffman and Shoppach rather than Valverde and Ryan Garko. A deal could be worked out if the Tigers offered Placido Palonco, but that makes little sense for Detroit. So maybe it would be smarter to just keep Shoppach.
In that case, the other catcher could be moved. Victor Martinez has two years left on his contract and could be a very appealing option to many teams. He’ll earn only 5.2 million next year, so it wouldn’t clear much salary, but think about the possible return. I recently wrote about how Victor Martinez for Mike Lowell made sense.
So it looks like Indians’ GM Mark Shapiro will have a very busy offseason in front of him. He will have to get creative if he truly wants to fill all of his holes.