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MLB Offseason Financial Preview: AL Central

MLB Offseason Financial Preview: AL Central

Our MLB offseason series highlights an outlook of each team's financial status, including 2019 payroll, notable free agents, players with options, arbitration-eligibilites, and contract extension and/or trade candidates as well.

We begin our series with the American League Central, led by the Cleveland Indians, who posted 91 wins in 2018, before bowing out to the Astros rather quickly in the postseason. Keep the conversation going @spotrac

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Cleveland Indians

Current 2019 Payroll: $93.9M
Projected Arbitration Salaries: $33M

Extension Candidate:

Trevor Bauer (SP, 27)
Bauer took another step toward becoming the ace in Cleveland in 2018, which is an awful lot to say with a 2-time Cy Young winner in Corey Kluber sitting next to him on the bench. The 27-year-old has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining, and has publicly spoken out against "mega" long-term deals, but it might make sense for Cleveland to get ahead of this contract before his value soars too high.

Michael Brantley (OF, 31)
The Indians waited a long time for Brantley to fully heal in hopes of him returning to "batting-champ" form, and it appears to have paid off. The 31-year-old posted 36 doubles, 17 homers, 76 RBIs, and a .309 average in 2018, but is headed to free agency this winter. With a market value north of $19M, it seems unlikely that Cleveland will be his highest bidder, but keeping this marriage together makes a lot of sense for both sides.

 

Trade Candidate:

Jason Kipnis (2B, 31)
Kipnis managed 18 homers, 28 doubles, and 75 RBIs in 2018, but his averages are down across the board, and his defense both at second base and in the outfield is becoming more and more of a liability. The indians may need to come to grips with moving on from the face of their franchise this winter, as their window to win within their current financial structure is closing quickly.

 

2019 Free Agents (12):

2019 Options (2):

Arbitration Eligible (9):

Minnesota Twins

Current 2019 Payroll: $46.5M

Projected Arbitration Salaries: $33M

Trade Candidate:
Miguel Sano (3B, 26), Byron Buxton (OF, 24)
Both previously highly-graded prospects had miserable 2018s, so this wouldn't be a "value" trade by any means. This is simply a vote for both to find a change of scenery, in hopes of reviving their potential to some degree. Sano will require a slight bump up from his previous $602,500 salary as he enters arbitration, while Buxton shouldn't see much more than the $580,000 he earned last year.

2019 Free Agents (5):

2019 Options (2):

Arbitration Eligible (12):

Detroit Tigers

Current 2019 Payroll: $69M

Projected Arbitration Salaries: $32M

Extension Candidate:

Nick Castellanos (3B, 26)
With almost no help around him in the lineup, Castellanos had about as good a season as one could ask for, posting 46 doubles, 23 homers, 89 RBIs and a .298 average. He's eligible for arbitration one last time this winter, but should be the piece the Tigers want to build around. His best recent comp. is Eric Hosmer, who just scored an $18M per year deal in San Diego.

2019 Free Agents (7):

Arbitration Eligible (8):

Chicago White Sox

Current 2019 Payroll: $30.3M

Projected Arbitration Salaries: $38M

Extension Candidate:

Avisail Garcia (OF, 27)
Garcia had a bit of a down season in comparison to his great 2017 campaign, but still managed 19 homers, 49 RBIs and a .719 OPS. He's arbitration eligible for the final time this winter, which will come at a cost around $9M most likely. The White Sox might be smart to buy low on the 27-year-old and lock him in for a few years.

Trade Candidate:

Jose Abreu (1B, 31)
Now over 30, Abreu posted the worst statistical season of his career, so any move would be selling low at this point. But the White Sox need to think in 3-year blocks now, and if Abreu doesn't have a fixed place there, they'll do well to move on. With players like Paul Goldschmidt reportedly on the block, the White Sox can use their deep prospect pool to get better quickly here.

2019 Free Agents (3):

2019 Options (2):

Arbitration Eligible (8):

Kansas City Royals

Current 2019 Payroll: $84.1M

Projected Arbitration Salaries: $11M

2019 Free Agents (3):

2019 Options (2):

Arbitration Eligible (6):