What Can the Indians Do to Bolster the Bullpen?

The Cleveland Indians’ Social Media said it best this morning:

Now, this week hasn’t been easy. Losing to the last place Cincinnati Reds isn’t ideal, but they also aren’t the same team that started the season 3-18 and saw their manager fired. This is a team on a nice run. In addition to that, yes, you are allowed to vent, but there are still 72 games left to support a team that is currently ahead of last year’s win total…AND a team that has an 8.5 game lead going into Wednesday night’s game against the Reds.

(Check out our home page to see our newest feature, the Tribesphere Feed! With this live feed of our 22 favorite Indians-related Twitter accounts, you’ll be able to view tweets with minor-league updates, articles by other Tribe blogs, and breaking news from Indians beat reporters, all in real time!)

Well, for those of you who weren’t pleased with Josh Tomlin‘s “hamstring injury” or satisfied with the brilliance of Trevor Bauer last night, there is good news: Nick Goody started a throwing program on July 10th, Andrew Miller is throwing a bullpen session today, and Tyler Olsen was re-evaluated on July 9th and will begin a throwing program shortly. However, for those of you who still aren’t satisfied, here is a list of relievers who could be acquired by the Indians to help the bullpen.


Short-term Solutions

The Toronto Blue Jays offer the best short-term solutions to the Cleveland bullpen. The struggling team up north has several veterans who have some value for a team in need of capable, reliable arms, including:

Seunghwan Oh, RHP: Oh turns 36 on Sunday and is owed $2.5 million in 2019. While he’s not going to close in 2018, he was a dominant closer in Japan and had some success in that role with the Cardinals in his rookie 2016 season prior to being a bit too hittable last year. He seems back on track in 2018, but he would be a cheap, emergency closer should the Tribe lose both Andrew Miller and Cody Allen after the 2018 season. His age would make him more affordable, but the team-friendly deal could be hard for Toronto to move.

(Always The Jake is looking for writers! To apply, send an e-mail to alwaysthejake@gmail.com with a short paragraph detailing who’s your favorite Indians player and why, and tell us a bit about why you’re interested in writing!)

Tyler Clippard, RHP: At 33, Clippard has 12 seasons of solid relief work on his resume. After a disappointing 2017, he is back on track and posting his career norms, as his 3.09 ERA and 1.08 WHIP suggest. He is a free agent after the season, but he could be packaged with another reliever for a few solid but unspectacular prospects, leaving the likes of Triston McKenzie and Francisco Mejia for a future deal – if necessary.


For a three-month rental, one unlikely solution could be Met RHP Jeurys Familia. The 28-year-old is making $7.93 million, and, with it being the Mets, they’d probably take a case of Great Lakes for him if the Indians were willing to pick up the remainder of his salary. Familia has been a dominant closer over much of his career, and he would certainly be an electric addition, allowing for the hated closer-by-committee that would frustrate the fantasy baseball fans. Still, on a rental, if he isn’t as sought after as Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, he could be had and make a huge difference for the Indians.

Long-term Solutions

The long-term solutions are scary, as they’ll likely cost significant prospects. As a fan, I’d love to see a few of these players in a block-C uniform over the next several seasons, but is it wise to invest in bullpen arms with prospects? That’s a whole different article. Still, here are some teams that have some assets for the Indians to check in on:

(Want to read more articles like this? Follow us on Twitter [@alwaysthejake] and Facebook [Always The Jake])

Cincinnati Reds

RHPs Raisel Iglesias, David Hernandez, and Jared Hughes

Iglesias, 28, is due $5.21 M this year and $5.71 M in 2019 and 2020 before reaching arbitration in 2021 and becoming a free agent after that season. He has electric stuff and would make for an affordable, valuable, back-end of the bullpen addition, but the cost would be extremely high. Cincinnati would need a haul to deal him, especially if they have a couple of starters make positive gains and look like contenders by 2020.


Hernandez, 33, is due $2.5 M this year and next. He isn’t overpowering but he keeps getting guys out. His stats are inflated by a lofty 80% LOB this season, but he is a nice piece to any bullpen – just don’t expect Andrew Miller pre-2018 results out of him.

Hughes, 33, is due $2.12 M this year and next, with a $3 M option for 2020 ($250K buyout). He has made 421 appearances in his career and has a 2.70 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. He doesn’t get a lot of press due to his 5.94 K:9, but he gets the job done, and he has looked great this year with his 1.50 ERA and 90.2% LOB.

Texas Rangers

RHPs Keone Kela, Tony Barnette, and Jose Leclerc

LHP Alex Claudio

Barnette, 34 ($1.5 M), Kela, 25 ($1.2 M), and Claudio, 26 ($568K) are each under team-control through 2021, while Leclerc, 24, is under team control through 2022. While all of them could be valuable, there isn’t as much incentive for the Rangers to deal them, as middle relievers don’t see drastic jumps in arbitration, and Kela is the only one getting numerous saves in 2018. This is an interesting group, one with several affordable arms that could really help the Indians.

San Diego Padres

RHPs Kirby Yates and Craig Stammen

LHPs Brad Hand and Matt Strahm

Yates, 31 ($1.06 M), is under team-control through 2020, Strahm, 26 ($553K) is under team-control through 2022, and Stammen, 34, is making $2.25 M in 2018 and 2019, so each of these arms would be around beyond this season; however, Hand is the piece that could be interesting beyond October.

(Related: Nick Sandlin’s Upside Is Better Than You Think)

Hand, 28, is making $4.08 M in 2018. He will then earn $7.08 M in 2019, $7.58 M in 2020, and $10 M in 2021 ($1 M buyout). This is your Andrew Miller addition from 2016 in current form.


It isn’t an overwhelming amount to pay a closer, but, again, if the Padres see their young talent competing in 2020, why do they move Hand?

Who Should Cleveland Acquire?

Now that you’ve seen some arms who could be available, who do you want to see in an Indians’ uniform? Comment below or on Facebook, Twitter, etc. to let us know!