CLEVELAND -- With the Cleveland Indians’ historic 2017 season coming to an end courtesy of a 5-2 loss to the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field Wednesday night, the organization will now turn their focus to the offseason, where some important decisions have to be made regarding the roster.
Despite the Indians being just two days into their offseason, the front office is already looking at ways to build the 2018 team in an effort to win a third consecutive AL Central Division Championship and earn the organization’s third straight trip to the Major League Baseball Playoffs.
“The primary focus is making sure that we’re prepared and supporting the Major League staff and Tito as best we can with what we have going on in the postseason, but there’s this parallel path that we’re working on offseason planning and decisions that we have in front of us,” Indians President Chris Antonetti said at an end-of-season address at Progressive Field Friday.
“That process has started, and is something we’ll continue over the next few weeks.”
In 149 at-bats over 43 games with the Indians after a mid-August trade from the New York Mets, right fielder Jay Bruce belted seven home runs, nine doubles and two triples. Eighteen of his 37 hits went for extra bases, and he drove in 26 runs with 21 scored.
During the postseason, Bruce smashed three extra-base hits, two home runs and one double, with four RBI and five runs. In his Indians postseason debut, a 4-0 win over the Yankees in Game 1 at Progressive Field, Bruce smashed a double off the wall in left field as well as a home run and drove in three runs.
“Jay made an extraordinary impact, both on the field and in the clubhouse in the time he was with us,” Antonetti said. “We’ve got a lot of things that we need to work through with our roster and how we configure things next year, but I can tell you we’ve got a lot of interest in Jay. We would love to have him back, but we need to figure out how all of the pieces fit together. He certainly did his part.”
In addition to Bruce, the Indians have a decision to make on reliever Bryan Shaw, who has been a key setup man since coming to Cleveland in 2013.
In 378 appearances for the Indians, Shaw compiled a 21-22 record with a 3.11 earned run average. Over 358.2 innings of work, Shaw allowed 307 hits and 143 runs, 124 of which were earned, and 31 home runs, an average of just over six round-trippers per season.
Shaw led the American League in games played three times in the last four years (2014, 2016, 2017), and his 475 relief appearances are the most among active pitchers.
“When you look at his body of work over the past five years, it kind of speaks for itself,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
“From time to time, people grumble about B, but he was available almost every day the whole year and took a lot of pride in it. Having a guy or guys like that out there, I can’t tell you how much it means to a manager and a pitching coach that they’re available. So often, he would go right through the middle of the order and carried a lot of work for five years.”
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