Terry Francona on Indians' roster: "We’re pretty close to who we’re going to be"

The Indians didn't make many moves this offseason

James Rapien
January 31, 2020 - 11:18 pm

CLEVELAND, OH — Indians manager Terry Francona met with the media today, as the organization prepares for their annual ‘TribeFest’ in downtown Cleveland.

Francona doesn’t foresee any major signings between now and the start of spring training.

“I’m guessing we’re pretty close to who we’re going to be,” he said. “I can’t sit here and tell you that it would shock me if we invited somebody to camp or even if we signed somebody.”

One name that has been floated around is outfielder Yasiel Puig, who played 49 games for the Indians last season. It doesn’t sound like he’s on their ‘must-sign’ list.

“We kind of have our team,” Francona said. “I feel more like I need to spend energy on, ‘OK, how do we get this group of guys to be as good as they can be, as opposed to sitting here going, ‘Oh man, I’d love to have him over there.’ I never felt comfortable feeling like that.”

The Indians acquired right-hander Emmanuel Clase and outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. in the Corey Kluber deal. They also traded for catcher Sandy León and signed second baseman César Hernández.

Most of the lineup is already set, assuming everyone stays healthy during spring training. The entire infield is back, with the exception of Jason Kipnis. Hernández will replace him at second base.

The outfield is a big question mark. Oscar Mercado will start everyday, but it may not be in center field. DeShields is a great athlete and is more refined than Mercado, which means he could end up being the starting center fielder.

Mercado and DeShields have already formed a relationship off the field. The duo could cover a lot of ground at Progressive Field this summer. 

The team knows they have a plethora of outfielders and only three starting spots. There's going to be a couple guys that are disappointed with their role in the big leagues or in Triple-A.

“Some of it will depend on Franmil [Reyes], how much he plays the outfield,” Francona said. “We're going to put him out there and probably put him in left and right and see how that goes.”

Reyes’ offseason goal was to get in better shape in hopes of being able to contribute in the outfield. What does he need to show the Indians during spring training?

“He has to be one of our best outfielders or at least to the point where we know it doesn’t set us back,” Francona said.

Jordan Luplow, Bradley Zimmer, Greg Allen, Daniel Johnson and Jake Bauers will compete with DeShields and Reyes in spring training. Mercado is the only lock to start in the outfield.

Tyler Naquin also hopes to be in the mix at some point during the 2020 season. He’s recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee.

The Indians need one of these guys to emerge the same way Mercado did last season. Luplow and Johnson would likely be the favorites to do that this year.

Starting Rotation

Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber will lead the Indians’ starting rotation this season. Carlos Carrasco is expected to be back in his normal role as a starter. That leaves two spots open for Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale, Adam Plutko and Logan Allen.

“You need to have some starters in Triple-A and sometimes you’re doing a kid a disservice by putting him in the bullpen,” Francona said. “Even though he might be pissed you’re sending him down, in the long run you’re doing what’s right for him.”

Much like previous seasons, the Indians will lean on their rotation again in 2020.