Five days before deadline, Tribe GM Chris Antonetti talks with media
Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti met with media on Friday afternoon before the Indians began a stretch of 14 games in 17 days – included in which is Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline. Here’s what he had to say:
Question: Do you intend to try to do something before the deadline?
Chris Antonetti: I think we’ll try. Part of my responsibility is to look for any opportunity to improve the team, whether those are internal alternatives or external alternatives. Obviously this time of year, there’s a lot of focus on external.
Question: Has the extra wild card changed the landscape in that it’s hard to identify who’s a buyer and who’s a seller?
CA: It’s definitely made an impact, at least in our view. As we looked at the 30 teams, you can make the argument that there are 24 or maybe even 25 teams that are either buying or at least holding onto players and a select handful of teams willing to trade off major league players. It’s further complicated by at least one if not more of those teams are in our division.
Question: Does the change in the draft pick compensation, where potential free agents no longer have a draft pick attached to them if they’re traded, also change the equation of what teams are asking or willing to give up.
CA: There is an impact on value. In the past, if you were considering trading for someone approaching the final year of his contract, you knew there was an opportunity at the end of that year to offer him arbitration and potentially get a draft pick to help backfill to offset some of the talent you may have traded. That’s no longer in place, so it affects your tolerance for the caliber of young players you’d be willing to give up.
Question: What do you think this team needs?
CA: I feel good about the group of guys we have. I’ve been encouraged by the way our starters have pitched, about our position players we have, about our ability to score runs and prevent runs. That’s despite what happened on this past road trip (defensively); we think that will be more of a blip. I think in the bullpen we can be more consistent, especially in our ability to get left-handed batters out. That’s an area we’ll try to improve, whether it’s internal or external.
Question: When you talk with other teams, do they all ask for Francisco Lindor?
CA: The industry recognizes how special a player Francisco is.
Question: Are you saying you’re not optimistic about making a deal?
CA: I’m neither optimistic nor pessimistic. We’re working through the realities of the market. If there’s the right deal that makes sense that we feel will improve us, we’ll make the deal. If there’s not the right deal, we’re not going to make a trade just to say we made a trade.
Question: Has the starting rotation’s improvement changed how you viewed that part of the team?
CA: One of the things you have to consider when you make a trade is who you will displace. Whose position on the team does the player you acquire, whose spot does he take? When you look at the rotation, those guys have done a good job over the past four or five weeks. The question of which of those guys would come out if we acquired a starter is not an easy question to answer.
Question: Can you talk about the resiliency the club has shown with injuries?
CA: Every team goes through injuries; teams that remain competitive have to find ways to overcome them. I’ve been proud of how the guys that are here have persevered through some of those challenges, injuries and stretches where we haven’t played well. We think that resiliency is something will serve us well in the second half.
Question: Is there concern about Mark Reynolds’ slump?
CA: We’ve seen Mark go through stretches where he can carry the team, but we’ve seen stretches where he’s struggled. He’s obviously in the midst of a tough stretch. But we continue to be confident in the person and that Mark has been working hard, and hopefully that hot stretch is right around the corner.
Question: Does the Aug. 31 waiver trading deadline represent a bigger opportunity now (to give teams a longer chance to discern where they stand and perhaps decide to trade players)?
CA: I do think it offers an opportunity, and maybe a better opportunity for teams to acquire players. Because at that point, teams begin to separate themselves a little bit more. There will be additional opportunities in August to find ways to improve.
Question: Would you like to see the July 31 trading deadline pushed back?
CA: We’ve talked at each of the last two GM meetings about that topic. I anticipate we’ll talk about it again this November.
Question: How impressed were you by Danny Salazar and what you’re juggling with how to use him the rest of this year?
CA: His start was the continuation of his development. He didn’t come up here and do anything different than what he’s been doing in the Minor Leagues. He dominated Double A and earned a promotion to Triple A; he pitched well there, his stuff and his performance, and continued that up here. We think that’s the type of pitcher he can be.
Question: Are you talking about him coming back this year?
CA: We expect, if there’s a need, that Danny will impact our team in the second half. Our expectation is that he will impact our pitching staff, if that’s in the rotation or in the bullpen.
–TribeVibe contributor Joel Hammond