The Indians continue to shed money off their payroll as they reshape their roster with the trade of first baseman Yonder Alonso to their in-division rival, the Chicago White Sox.
The deal will be finalized on Saturday morning but the two sides came to an agreement on Friday night in which the Indians will receive minor league prospect Alex Call in exchange for Alonso.
Alonso hit 23 home runs with 83 RBIs and a .250 batting average in 145 games for the Indians in 2018 but with the trade that sent Edwin Encarnacion to Seattle for Carlos Santana and Jake Bauers on Thursday, reports said that he would be the next player on the move from Cleveland.
The 31-year-old first baseman was due $8 million for the 2019 season with a vesting option in 2020 for $9 million so it’s a good deal for an average hitting first baseman with a solid glove.
Chicago has been rumored to be wanting to expand their payroll this offseason with owner Jerry Reinsdorf wanting to push fast forward on the team’s rebuilding process. The team has been linked to top free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
By what Zuppe tweeted out, the Indians don’t have to focus on trading either Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer now because of financial situations. Kluber is scheduled to make $17 million in 2019 and Bauer’s arbitration salary is projected around $11 million and if all goes well will make another big jump in 2020.
Now that the Indians have made several trades to help them financially for 2019 and 2020, they can either continue trade talks for the starting pitchers or they can hold on them and use the money they’ve opened up to help in other areas of need such as the outfield and bullpen.
If they don’t use the reported $21.5 million they’ve created in the Yan Gomes, Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso trades to fill holes on the roster, the organization is going to have some explaining to do as the window to compete for a World Series Championship is still open and will be through the next few seasons.
They’re currently at $91.9 million in committed salaries for the 2019 season and this is before the arbitration deals have been finalized which will make the number go up as Bauer and shortstop Francisco Lindor are expected to receive significant pay raises in 2019.
As for the Indians new outfield prospect.
Alex Call was Chicago’s third-round pick in the 2016 draft out of Ball State University.
Baseball America had Call as one of the White Sox’s top ten prospects going into 2017 but he doesn’t even crack the top 30 of the Indians prospect list now going into 2019.
Here is what FutureSox had to say about Call in their scouting report
Call’s advanced plate approach is fueled by his excellent batting eye, consistently walking north of 10% as a pro and making contact at a high rate. Call has a smooth stroke that’s conducive to contact, though not so much geared for power. He’s shown a propensity to spray the ball to all fields. It’s not out of the question that Call could add a little mass to his frame and convert some of his doubles into home runs by maturity. Speaking of maturity, Call is said to have “off-the-charts make up” which was the phrase dropped by Director of Amateur Scouting Nick Hostetler. In addition to the upside that could come with an increased power profile, Call has a steady floor. The lack of swing-and-miss in his game lowers his risk profile, and he adds other hedging attributes like plus defense on the corners (arm would play as average there) and enough speed to ensure he’ll have a least some in-game value. Center field is an open question and perhaps a stretch, though not out of the question as a future home or more likely, as an occasional post. Speed grades out at average or a tick below. 2018 has been a key test to see if he’s back in fighting shape, and so far it certainly appears that way, now playing younger than league average at 23 years old.
In 123 games combined for High-A Winston Salem and Double-A Birmingham, Call hit for .256/.361/.421 with 11 doubles, 5 home runs and 28 runs batted in in 236 plate appearances. He also had 35 walks and 52 strikeouts.