The Cleveland Indians (59-42) may not have been the favorites to represent the American League in October this time last week, but after the front office made a pair of deals over the last 24 hours they likely are the favorites moving forward.
Saturday evening, as first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Indians reached an agreement on a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers that sends catcher Jonathan Lucroy to Cleveland.
Then Sunday morning, Rosenthal confirmed that the ‘Windians’ weren’t done making moves, and have agreed to a deal to acquire reliever Andrew Miller.
By acquiring the two All-Stars, the Indians do lose a number of their top prospects including pitcher Justus Sheffield. In total, three of Cleveland’s best prospects change hands, and a total of seven minor leaguers are leaving the Indians farm system to get the two major leaguers.
One hold up to all the excitement surrounding the baseball team in Cleveland is that Jonathan Lucroy has a partial no-trade clause that includes the Indians, meaning he can block the trade if he doesn’t want to leave Milwaukee.
Assuming the two-time All-Star catcher does waive the no-trade clause, Cleveland becomes the most well-rounded team in the AL, and not only for this season, but moving forward as well.
Lucroy is under contract for the remainder of this season and the 2017 campaign as well. Miller is signed through 2018.
Miller joins a bullpen in Cleveland that is currently the fifth-best in the American League, making the Indians good pen even better.
Lucroy, on the other hand, solves a big problem that manager Terry Francona had on his hand.
Lucroy, who is hitting for a .300 average with 13 home runs and 50 RBI, will take over behind the plate for Roberto Perez, who was seeing action due to Yan Gomes shoulder injury he suffered two weeks ago.
Gomes was slated to be on the disabled list between 4-8 weeks at the time of the injury, meaning the earliest he would likely return is the middle of August, though he likely won’t return to the team until the end of the month.
Whenever Gomes does return to baseball action it will give Francona a lot of flexibility with his infield.
Both Gomes and Lucroy have played a little bit of first base in their careers, and both are good enough hitters to serve as a designated hitter. Either of those moves could give Mike Napoli or Carlos Santana a day off, or swing them to a new position if another position player needs a day’s rest.
Miller, who is 6-1 with a 1.39 ERA out of the pen this year, will likely take over the same role in Cleveland that he had in New York. He also ranks in the top 5 in the majors in strikeout-to-walk ratio, strikeouts per 9 IP, WHIP and ERA.
Miller will come on to pitch the eighth inning in attempts to hold the lead for Indians closer Cody Allen.
Cleveland has the best win percentage in baseball heading into action on Sunday, and with the two moves that the front office has made, it appears that percentage is only going to get better.