Indians willing to pull trigger on Deadline deals
Rotation stability, bullpen help and a right-handed bat could be targets
CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Manny Acta knows what he wants. The only problem is that getting what he wants is not as simple as a snap of the fingers. Acta has made it no secret that he believes Cleveland would benefit from an aggressive approach in the trade market.
He has made this clear in his discussions with general manager Chris Antonetti.
"He knows already," Acta said. "It's just not that easy. We need to improve our offense, and we need to improve our pitching."
As the season's second half begins, the Indians sit in second place in the American League Central, three games behind the surprising first-place White Sox. Cleveland is very much in the hunt for a postseason spot, but the inconsistency of the club's first half exposed a few areas in need of upgrades.
A little more than two weeks remain until the arrival of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, and the Indians plan on using that time to search for potential solutions to some ongoing issues. The Tribe's starting rotation has lacked stability, its middle relievers have struggled and there is a clear need for a right-handed hitter to help balance out the lineup.
Cleveland will try to tackle each area in its effort to keep pace in the postseason push.
"However we can improve the roster," Antonetti said about his top priority. "We have opportunities to improve the team both on the position-player side and the pitching side.
"But I'm most encouraged and most hopeful that the guys who are here will continue to improve and play better."
Antonetti firmly believes that the current roster has what it takes to contend.
"Not playing the way we've played, but with the roster we have, yeah," Antonetti said. "I still think we have a lot of talent on the roster and enough talent to stay competitive in the division, but we need to play better than we've played."
Many of the players within Cleveland's clubhouse feel the same way.
"I honestly think we're good with what we've got in-house," Indians closer Chris Perez said. "We just haven't played up to our potential ... I don't want to overpay for somebody. There's going to be so many people going after the same guys that you're going to have to overpay. That's just how the market is.
"I don't think we should set ourselves back two or three years just to get one guy to maybe make the playoffs."
Last July, the Indians traded away veteran infielder Orlando Cabrera to the Giants, opening the door for Jason Kipnis to assume the everyday job in Cleveland. The Tribe also reeled in Kosuke Fukudome from the Cubs, helping solidify an outfield that was beset with injuries at the time.
The Indians' biggest splash, however, came in a Deadline deal with the Rockies. Cleveland sent four prospects, including prized arms Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, to Colorado in order to acquire star pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. The right-hander struggled down the stretch and has only recently started to pitch to his potential.
Perez pointed to the Jimenez trade as evidence that making a deal does not guarantee a spot on the October stage.
"We did that last year and it didn't work," Perez said.
It is a safe bet to assume that the Tribe's decision makers are working hard behind the scenes, though. The most obvious positions to upgrade in the field are left field and first base, though the Indians are not likely to limit their search to those spots. Antonetti also said recently that the Indians are willing to take on salary in a trade.
More than likely, Cleveland will pull the trigger on some type of deal.
"We're exploring the possibilities of bringing people from the outside," Acta said. "I'm not saying we can't do it internally, but internally means our clubhouse in there. How long can you wait?"