The late-night Friday move that sent 1B/DH Yonder Alonso to Chicago’s south side was a deal typically reserved for transaction marginalia. Because of the headliner’s relationship with star free-agent SS/3B Manny Machado, though (the two are brothers-in-law), and Cleveland’s offseason status as a veritable repository for top-end available arms, the trade has implications that range further than most of its ilk.
Here’s the latest from the Upper Midwest …
Per WSCR-AM’s Bruce Levine, Machado will meet with the White Sox next week. Whether or not the opportunity to play with Alonso will hold sway is unknown, but GM Rick Hahn made serious effort, in a post-trade assembly with reporters, to redirect swirling conjecture back to Alonso: “Fundamentally this is a baseball deal,” Hahn said. “We like how Yonder fits in between the lines and in the clubhouse and helps further what we’re trying to accomplish in 2019 and beyond. The potential ancillary benefits to it in terms of his relationships with others really can’t be part of pulling the trigger in making the decision to acquire a big league player…” It should be noted, too, that purported White Sox target Yasmani Grandal, Havana-born and Miami-bred like Alonso, played with the 1B/DH at the University of Miami, in the Cincinnati Red farm system, and with the San Diego Padres from 2012-’14.
Per MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince and Mandy Bell, the “key to the deal,” from Cleveland’s perspective, was the ability to clear the entirety of Alonso’s $9MM salary for ’18 (he also has a $9MM, 2020 option that vests if he accrues 526 plate appearances in ’19) off the books. Speculatively, though Alonso’s mostly-league-average bat, over the course of his career, likely wasn’t sought-after on the trade market, Cleveland may have seen a slight bump in the return quality if it was willing to eat most of the remaining cash on Alonso’s deal.
With the aforementioned savings in the White Sox deal, plus the approximately $9MM slashed in the Carlos Santana/Edwin Encarnacion swap, the Indians appear to have drastically increased their 2019 payroll space. Fancred’s Jon Heyman relays the good news for Tribe fans, tweeting that both Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer are now “more likely to stay.” The Indians could, though, look to aggressively upgrade a barren-looking outfield by using the newfound space and dealing one of the two aces, though the latter strategy has seemed diffident from the start.
Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that the deal “doesn’t necessarily indicate” the club is now looking to move 1B/DH Jose Abreu. Abreu, 31, projects to earn $16MM in arbitration this season, and has seen his surplus value slide considerably in recent seasons. Still, Steamer projects the slugger to post a robust .280/.339/.495 (125 wRC+) line in ’19, and his presence could still be coveted by a team becoming increasingly desperate for a middle-of-the-lineup presence.