Could One or More of These Free Agent Arms Help the Indians Pen in 2020?

Mark Warmuth

Most of the talk about the Cleveland Indians signing a major league free agent this winter has involved the outfield.

This makes sense because without a doubt the Tribe outfield is, well, rather unsettled.

Right now, the only spots realistic thinkers should put in ink would be Oscar Mercado and Jordan Luplow, neither of whom have spent a complete year in the bigs.

We haven't forgotten Franmil Reyes, but we look at him as mainly a designated hitter, although Terry Francona has said he would like him to play in the outfield some during the 2020 season.

However, should the front office we looking at some bargains in the starting pitching pool?

After all, Cleveland will be starting the season with both Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac in their projected rotation, and those two have combined for a little over 170 innings at the big league level.

If we were in charge, we would be looking at some insurance in case those two, as well as other candidates like Adam Plutko (189 major league innings), Jefry Rodriguez (98 innings), or Logan Allen (28 IP) aren't getting it done.

With spring training less than a month away, you would think the front office could make a low cost investment on some experienced arms.

Here are some pitchers we would be interested in taking a look see in Goodyear during spring training.

Andrew Cashner. The 33-year-old right-hander was 11-8 with a 4.68 ERA for Baltimore and Boston a year ago, and has topped the 150 innings mark in each of the last three years.

As Camden Yards and Fenway Park are not the most pitcher friendly parks in the majors, Cashner was 6-4 with a 3.67 ERA on the road in 2019, with 69 strikeouts in 81 innings, and just 63 hits allowed.

He was not good (6.30 ERA) after being traded to Boston on July 13th. However, you would think he could be counted on to give a team some innings at the very least. He has 188 major league starts under his belt.

Taijuan Walker - Walker is coming off Tommy John surgery in 2018 and pitched just one big league inning last year for Arizona, but before he was traded to the Diamondbacks, what we remember about the 27-year-old righty was he dominated the Indians, going 4-0 in his career with an 0.32 ERA in 28 innings.

In his last full active year, he was 9-9 with a 3.49 ERA in 157 frames with 146 punchouts.

He's a bit of a gamble, but it could pay off if his elbow is sound.

Jhoulys Chacin - Chacin was terrible last season (3-12, 6.01 ERA), but is just a year removed from going 15-8 with a 3.50 ERA for the Brewers in 192 innings.

The 32 year old has four major league seasons throwing more than 180 innings, so he is capable of soaking up some innings, which is always needed.

Jason Vargas - At this point in his career, the southpaw is the prototypical fifth starter, but more often than not, he takes the ball 30 times per year, and can keep his team in games.

He beat the Indians in a late September start for the Phillies last season, going 6-2/3 innings allowing two runs in a victory. In his career, he is 10-5 vs. the Tribe, and is 5-1 at Progressive Field.

As Terry Francona always says, when you think you have enough pitching, you go out and get more.

This quartet wouldn't set the front office back a lot of cash, and would serve as protection for a very young back of the starting rotation. They could also serve as arms to help the additional innings burden on those young hurlers.

It would be worth a good look.