Team Strengths: Cleveland built the American League’s top rotation by obtaining Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger as prospects, and now there are homegrown arms to supplement them. Shane Bieber has ably stepped in with Danny Salazar addled with accidents, and No. 1 prospect Triston McKenzie can debut in 2019.
Team Weaknesses: Tyler Naquin and Bradley Zimmer have not developed as hoped, leaving the Indians perilously short in the outfield. The group is now even lighter after Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall left in free service. A bullpen that had the majors’ fifth-worst ERA was depleted by Andrew Miller and Cody Allen leaving.
They Did About It: The Indians replaced Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso at designated hitter and first base, respectively, together with Carlos Santana and Jake Bauers, but didn’t address the team’s primary shortcomings. Jordan Luplow and Daniel Johnson were their only outfield additions, and Nick Wittgren was their sole bullpen addition maybe not on a minor league deal.
Final Outlook: The Indians are more vulnerable than they’ve been in years, particularly if Francisco Lindor’s calf injury lingers. Still, the overall weakness of the AL Central still makes them the favorite for a fourth consecutive division title.
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