The Cleveland Indians made the World Series in 2016, their first in 19 years, without being one of the bigger spenders in the American League. The Arizona Diamondbacks went a bit bigger last season, and it blew up in their face. Both teams aren’t looking to suddenly add more dollars to their payroll just to improve, regardless of where they ended up last season.
At the moment, the Indians are probably going to pay $93.8 million in salary next season, based on projected arbitration numbers. Jason Kipnis will be their highest paid player at $9.17 million, followed by Andrew Miller at $9 million and Michael Brantley at $8.38 million. Corey Kluber, their best starting pitcher, will make $7.7 million, just like Cody Allen, who is still before his first signed deal, but will make an estimated $7.7 million next season based on his performances out of the bullpen.
The Indians have already given up on the option of Carlos Santana and will need to get creative when it comes to their lineup and bringing back hits and runs this offseason without going too much over $100 million. They probably will go a bit higher with some small signings, but it’s hard to believe we’ll see some big addition, unless it comes via trade. The Indians, despite the successful perception through the playoff run, are one of the worst attended teams in the majors.
The Diamondbacks have had their fair share of attendance problems over the last few years, but they didn’t respond to it with success last season. They finished with just 69 wins, despite the big moves in the offseason, highlighted by Zack Greinke signing a massive deal of six years and $206.5 million. That deal alone eats up about a third of the payroll, which is at an estimated $99.3 million in 2017.
Right now the Diamondbacks aren’t talking about trading Greinke or other expensive pieces (Yasmany Tomas or Paul Goldschmidt), but CEO Derrick Hall has said that the team can’t have too many high priced players on the roster at the same time in the near future. That’s a hint that either the Diamondbacks start winning some games very soon, or they’ll break up the package. That won’t be too difficult with Tomas and Goldschmidt, but Greinke’s disappointing 2016 season could be a sign of things to come, and perhaps it won’t be so easy getting rid of his deal when the time comes.
The Indians are hoping to keep the current group of players for as long as possible, but a low-payroll club, having someone like Andrew Miller in the bullpen making $18 million over the next two seasons is difficult to cope with, especially with Allen becoming one of the top 5 highest paid players on the team through arbitration. As surprising as it might sound considering how well Miller performed in the playoffs, his peak value could be the best way for the Indians to improve their lineup and depth while not adding too many dollars to the wage bill.