The Indians don’t have much cooking on the hot stove right now, but you can expect things to heat up around MLB with Spring Training less than two months away.
While fans would love to see the Tribe brass sign that highly-coveted right-handed power bat, the team remains focused on starting pitching. So, who does GM Chris Antonetti have his eye on? It’s tough to say, but there are a few guys we can rule out.
Veteran right-hander Jake Westbrook, who pitched in Cleveland from 2001-10, became a free agent this offseason after the Cardinals bought out his 2014 option. Antonetti reportedly said the Indians would "keep an eye on him" this offseason, but the team currently has no interest in the 36-year old starter, according to Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer. Westbrook posted a 4.63 ERA last season, recording 50 walks and only 44 strikeouts in 116 2/3 innings pitched.
Hoynes also reports that the Indians will post a bid on Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. But don’t get too excited, it’s extremely unlikely that the Indians will be able to offer Tanaka a deal that competes with other large-market teams, according to Hoynes:
There goes that idea.
All is still quiet on the Ubaldo Jimenez front. He’s reportedly seeking a four-year deal in the $17-$20 million range, which is a lot more than the Indians are willing to pay. The Yankees, Blue Jays and Diamondbacks are reportedly a few of the teams with legit interest in Jimenez, but the Dodgers and Orioles have also checked on him, sources told FOX Sports Ohio.
The market for Jimenez, along with a handful of other "bigger name" free agent pitchers (like Matt Garza and Ervin Santana), has been slow to develop due to the uncertainty surrounding Tanaka. When Tanaka finally signs, you can expect the teams that missed out to enter somewhat of a bidding war over what’s left in the free-agent pitching pool. And once again, the Indians will be left competing with the likes of large-market teams in hopes of landing a top-five starter.