Indians Likely to Shed Salaries, Even if They Hire Francona
Indians will trade possibilities with outfielder Shin-Soo Choo
Terry Francona was an instrumental part of guiding the Boston Red Sox to two World Series titles before his tenure there ended with the club’s monumental collapse last September. Now, the likable baseball lifer wants to leave the ESPN broadcast booth and land in the Cleveland Indians dugout. Interestingly, if Francona gets the Indians managerial job, he could find his team immersed in trade talks with the Red Sox.
The 30-year-old Choo, who is arbitration eligible again this off-season and can become a free agent in 2014, has a .282 average and a .814 OPS to accompany 15 home runs, 62 RBI and 19 stolen bases this year. Since he will get a bump in pay over this year’s $4.9 million salary, and he is represented by Scott Boras (who has a track record of having his players explore the free agent market when they become eligible), chances are the Indians will like to move Choo.
The Red Sox and New York Yankees are two of multiple teams who could be a fit for Choo. Boston has expressed interest in bringing back Masterson, the 27-year-old right-hander who was dealt by the Red Sox to Cleveland in a package for Victor Martinez at the non-waiver deadline in 2009.
Chris Perez, the 27-year-old closer who has 39 saves this season but has caused tension because of his criticism of Indians fans and team owner Larry Dolan, could also be traded. He is under team control and, like Choo, will get a pay raise since he is arbitration eligible again. He received a $4.5 million salary this season.
Since the Red Sox have Andrew Bailey in place as their closer for 2013 and beyond, they don’t appear to be a potential landing spot for Perez, but many clubs would have interest in a young, live arm that also notched 36 saves in 2011.
It will be an off-season of change in Cleveland. The Indians are not likely to retain free agent Grady Sizemore, and instead of exercising Travis Hafner‘s $13 million club option, they plan to choose the $2.75 million buyout.