With their Game 5 loss to the New York Yankees in the American League Division series bringing their season to an end, the Cleveland Indians could look significantly different the next time they take the field.
Carlos Santana, Jay Bruce and Bryan Shaw are each free agents, while the club possesses a team option on outfielder Michael Brantley. The Indians have also been more active in free agency and the trade market in recent years, which could significantly shape what their lineup looks like in 2018.
Which players suit up for Cleveland next season, however, may not be the only change for the Indians in 2018. The uniforms and hats themselves may feature a drastically different look.
Having long been a polarizing subject in both Cleveland and baseball, the Indians' longtime Chief Wahoo logo could be nearing an end. In a statement to The New York Times in April, Major League Baseball spokesperson Pat Courtney said that commissioner has made clear his “desire to transition away from the Chief Wahoo logo" to Cleveland ownership.
“We have specific steps in an identified process and are making progress,’’ Courtney said. “We are confident that a positive resolution will be reached that will be good for the game and the club.’’
Last month, Indians owner Paul Dolan admitted to WAKR 1590 that the club and MLB aren't "exactly aligned" on the future of the controversial logo, which the team has worn in some form since 1947. Dolan also said that a potential change to the logo could be coming sooner rather than later.
"We will come to some understanding some time relatively soon," Dolan said, per The Akron Beacon Journal. "Meaning before the start of the 2018 season and maybe sooner than that.”
The eventual end of Wahoo has appeared to be an inevitability since 2014, when the Indians made the 'Block C' its primary logo. Nevertheless, the franchise has continued to wear a Chief Wahoo patch on its jerseys, while consistently wearing the logo on its caps, including in postseason play.
That's led to an increase in discussion regarding the alleged offensiveness of a logo that features a red-faced caricature of a Native American. In July, the trading card company Topps announced that it will no longer produce products depicting Chief Wahoo.
“Frankly, we were — are — on a path towards further mitigating the use of it, trying to find the right balance," Dolan said. "We are Clevelanders. We have that relationship with Chief Wahoo that so many do, but we’re empathetic to those who find some reason to be offended by it. But at the core, we do think there’s some validity to that.”
Whether or not an agreement that suits both sides can be reached remains to be seen. But with Cleveland set to host the 2019 All-Star Game -- and the attention that will bring -- Chief Wahoo's days appear to be numbered, if not already over.