As with any offseason, the “winners” and “losers” are viewed almost exclusively through the lens of volume of players added or lost. A team seeking to recalibrate, or one that feels it is time to cash in on a star player usually doesn’t get favorable marks, but those that take in veterans do. With Josh Donaldson, Kenta Maeda and others, this has been viewed as a good offseason for the Twins.
Likewise the Chicago White Sox, who added Yasmani Grandal, Edwin Encarnacion, Nomar Mazara, Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez this offseason, and now are seen as the preeminent threat to the Twins’ rule over the division.
The Indians, on the other hand, last year’s runner up and the champion for several seasons before that, were undoubtedly the loser of the winter. Corey Kluber was traded and, well, that was it. They talked quite a bit about trading Francisco Lindor, but ultimately did not, and they didn’t really make any big additions, although they patched with Cedar Hernandez, Domingo Santana, and Sandy Leon.
Mike Clevinger is going to be hurt to start the season, as well Emannuel Clase, the prize return in the Kluber trade, and that is certainly not a good thing for Cleveland, but by in large, the Indians are not dramatically different than they were last season. People talked about Francisco Lindor as though he wasn’t going to be there all winter, but Lindor will be a Cleveland Indian to start the year.
Jose Ramirez and Carlos Santana both remain as anchors to the lineup, and they added Franmil Reyes last year with the expectation that he would be a designated hitter for the future. The Indians likely don’t believe their offense is a liability this year, nor should the Twins believe it is.
Cleveland’s pitching was without Kluber for a lot of the sasson, and they have several young pitchers that are highly regarded, who like Clevinger or Shane Bieber have already performed at the top level, or like Zach Plesac or Aaron Civale, they expect to do so soon. Corey Kluber would still be an Indian if they didn’t have faith in those two.
A lot of people that Cleveland was waiving a white flag this winter, but the savvy baseball man knows that they are just preparing a sneak attack.