Last week I published articles on prospective free agents for the Indians to look at and about one interesting trade option. While even those options may seem far fetched for the penny-pinching Indians, these are going to be out of the park. With free agency starting tomorrow it seems a good time to bring up three more players that are available and the Indians would love to pick up, but almost certainly have no chance at.
Our sister site "The Outside Corner" recently posted a rumor article that Haren is to be traded (possibly within the week) and that the Indians are one of the contenders. Haren has a $15.5M team option going into 2013 with a $3.5M buyout. Because of the buyout, the Angels may be more willing to eat at least that much of his salary, bringing him down to $12M, a paltry amount for a pitcher of his potential. If he came to the Tribe he would immediately be the best pitcher on the staff, even if he struggles as he did during this past season (4.33 ERA, 142 K's). Since the Indians accepted the option on Ubaldo Jimenez (as everyone knew they would) they have the first four pitchers in their rotation solidly in place (Justin Masterson, Zach McAllister and Carlos Carrasco are the other three) and Haren would give the team some much needed depth. More importantly, it would be adding a pitcher to the front of the rotation instead of the back (the opposite of their normal strategy). By putting Haren at the front, Masterson can be the number two starter and each following pitcher should expect better match-ups and less pressure during the season. If all that it takes is Chris Perez to bring Haren over the Indians should make this trade in a second, but I highly doubt that would be enough. Before giving up the entire team they need to remember that Haren is only signed through next season and will need to be signed long term for any trade more than just Perez to be worth it.
LaRoche declined his player option yesterday officially making him a free agent just in time for free agency season to open up. He will likely be the best first baseman on the market and the Indians need a first baseman/DH more than anything else on the team. In addition to an impressive offensive season (career highs in hits, home runs and RBI) LaRoche won his first Gold Glove this season (for whatever that is worth). Since he declined an option of more than $10M it is unlikely he will sign for anything less than $15M, placing him out of the Indians range. Of course the Indians could go for a family discount as his father, Dave LaRoche, was a closer for the Tribe back in the 1970's. His brother Andy also signed with the team a few years ago, but was not good enough to make the team. Most likely LaRoche will be a bomb for whoever signs him as his numbers for 2012 are incredibly out of line with his last few years. For anything under $15M he could be a good deal as a one season player for a team trying to win in 2013, but the Indians can't place all their hopes on a single season. They should be looking to try and win at least as long as the Jason Kipnis, Vinnie Pestano group of players is under team control (through 2016).
The biggest fish in this year's trade market, Rodriguez seems to be on the outs with New York after being essentially removed from the Yankees playoff roster during their sweep against Detroit. If the Yankees can't trust the best hitter in the history of Major League Baseball to bat in the ninth inning of a close playoff game, how can they use him at all next season. It is very likely that Rodriguez will be traded this offseason to free up some of his massive $28M contract for 2013. He is also owed almost $100M for the four years after that including incentives for home run milestones. In a dream world it would be great for Cleveland to get Rodriguez as the starting DH for the next five years with the Yankees paying more than half of his salary, but that will not happen. There is a slight chance the Yankees will be able to repair A-Rods pride and use him as a starter next year, but the team and fan base seems to be ready to move on. The scenario explained earlier is the only way the Indians would ever be able to get a player like Rodriguez, but since the Yankees have made a lot of bad moves in the past decade, it is technically possible. The Indians could replenish the Yankees minor league system that they trade away every year to bring in every other team's best players. If the Yankees were willing to pay for at least $10M a year of his contract, the Indians would have to find a way to afford him at such a great deal and having him under control through 2017 would be like having an even better Travis Hafner through the next expected run at the playoffs.
Just a reminder, none of these things will actually happen, this is just pretend. It would just be depressing writing an article about how the Indians are going to sign six more Johnny Damons.