The Cleveland Indians enter the 2021 season as a team with plenty to prove.
The former face of the franchise is now in New York and it is up to the likes of Jose Ramirez, Roberto Perez, Shane Bieber, and others to carry extra weight for the young team.
Everything is smooth and fun now as spring training gets underway.
But it is fair to begin looking ahead and wondering what the front office may do if things go south once the regular season begins.
It is possible there are serious trades made that send even more money off the payroll in favor of younger, cheaper prospects.
So who could be traded in such a scenario?
3. Eddie Rosario
Eddie Rosario just signed with the Indians and can already be seen as a potential trade piece.
#Indians OF Eddie Rosario hitting on the backfields of Goodyear today.
🎦 via @indians Instagram @EddieRosario09 #OurTribe pic.twitter.com/vg5Kf8rlnO
— Indians Prospective (@indiansPro) February 24, 2021
That would be because of his one-year, $8 million deal he signed this offseason.
This makes him the second-highest paid player on the roster in 2021.
The Indians have a surplus of young talent in the outfield all competing for the available spots.
Rosario is already guaranteed a job, but there is no point in keeping him the entire season if the team is clearly not a contender.
He can be traded away to a contender to get his money off the books and to give some younger players a chance in the outfield.
Any expiring deal stands out as a trade option, especially on a team like the Indians where money is being cut at a rapid pace.
2. Roberto Perez
Perez is earning $5.5 million in 2021 and has a $7 million club option in 2022.
This is not major money, but he is 32 years old and the Indians could seek a nice haul in a trade.
Asked #Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti what's caught his eye so far in training camp, and his first response was catcher Roberto Pérez, who dropped 25 pounds and re-shaped his body in the offseason.
— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) February 24, 2021
Such a trade would slide the younger Austin Hedges into a starting role, while top-tier catching prospect Bo Naylor continues to develop in the minors.
Knowing the plan for 2022 clarifies Perez’s situation more.
If there is no intention to exercise that club option it is a strong possibility he gets moved unless the Indians are right in the playoff race.
1. Jose Ramirez
Trading Ramirez would be just about a painful as the move that sent Lindor out of town.
However, it may even be worse because of the cost control with Ramirez’s contract.
He is earning $9 million this season and has two club options remaining for 2022 and 2023.
The money only jumps up to $14 million in 2023, so he is not too pricey to keep.
This is the one trade that could truly bring the best return.
It would also signal more of a true rebuild taking place in Cleveland.
Trading away Ramirez would be an absolute bummer for fans and everyone on the actual team.
Hopefully, the front office realizes they don’t have to totally tear down the roster to be competitive.
Ramirez is making far less than he should and is one of the faces of the franchise.
Keeping him around is good for business, even if the team isn’t in the postseason conversation.
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