Indians prep for deals at Winter Meetings


LAS VEGAS — A lot of attention gets put on the handful of days that executives from every Major League club gather under one roof. Expectations of blockbuster trades during this short span are always high. Entering the 2018 Winter Meetings, it looked like the Indians were setting up to take all the headlines, but it has been quite the opposite.

Aside from a few rumors regarding Corey Kluber, the Indians kept as quiet as they could while having two of the top pitchers in the Majors available on the market. But just because the Winter Meetings are wrapping up, it does not mean the chance for a trade is over.

LAS VEGAS — A lot of attention gets put on the handful of days that executives from every Major League club gather under one roof. Expectations of blockbuster trades during this short span are always high. Entering the 2018 Winter Meetings, it looked like the Indians were setting up to take all the headlines, but it has been quite the opposite.

Aside from a few rumors regarding Corey Kluber, the Indians kept as quiet as they could while having two of the top pitchers in the Majors available on the market. But just because the Winter Meetings are wrapping up, it does not mean the chance for a trade is over.

“I think everybody is focused on improvements to their team or just trades or free agents when they are here, so the number of contacts increases with teams,” general manager Mike Chernoff said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean they die down later, it just means over the three or four days that you are here, everybody is focused on this and solely this.”

Even if no deals have been completed over the past few days, the focus on the constant negotiating has left Chernoff and president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti feeling the same way: “Tired.”

“Every year I can say we feel exhausted by the end,” Antonetti said. “I’m guessing you’d get the same answer from all of our peers.”

Many expected the Indians to make a big splash in Sin City, trading either Kluber or Trevor Bauer. The hurlers may still be sporting their Cleveland caps for now, but that does not mean the executives haven’t made headway. Antonetti said they were able to eliminate some teams who had “fallen by the wayside” from trade discussions and develop different ideas based on the market.

“I feel like there are things that we made some progress on, yes,” Antonetti said. “Not necessarily always on the things that were top of mind coming in, so those things could evolve over the course of a few days, but I do feel like we made some progress on some things. Have a better understanding of the landscape of the market in different spaces.”

Antonetti and Chernoff have kept all talk of potential deals confidential. As to whether the team is closer to completing a transaction than they were prior to the Meetings, both executives said they would not tip their hand prematurely.

“Until it’s done, you never assume anything,” Antonetti said. “We’ve had things fall through at every phase of the trade process. Literally, every step of the way. That’s why we’ll always say it’s not done until we’re calling players and they’re informed.”

The Indians still have some decisions to make in the remaining hours of the Winter Meetings, including whether or not to fill an open spot on the 40-man roster during Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft.

“We’re talking about it. We’re not sure whether we’ll do anything yet,” Antonetti said. “We’ll spend a little bit more time going through that and then make a decision. Some of it might depend upon which players are there when it’s our turn to pick.”

The conclusion of the Winter Meetings does not mean that trade talk will slow down or that the executives will take a day or two to rest. Antonetti said he and Chernoff landed in Cleveland after the Winter Meetings last year and sat at the airport for three hours to complete a deal.

So no matter how aggravating the rejections to potential trades have been, both Chernoff and Antonetti understand that everything can change with a phone call.

“I think we just recognize it’s the realities of the job,” Antonetti said. “You have to be persistent and find different ways to try to make things work and recognize that a lot of your efforts won’t be fruitful, but inevitably there will be some that are.”

Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com.



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