Baseball's annual Winter Meetings are approaching, and the Indians will approach them without a frantic sense of urgency when it comes to exploring potential trades and free-agent signings.
The Indians have very few questions to answer for 2008, and that's a fine luxury in the crowded and overpriced marketplace that is this winter's Hot Stove. That being said, Tribe general manager Mark Shapiro will still get a read on what potential improvements he can make to his team, perhaps adding a corner outfield or third base bat or more bullpen help.
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2007 finish: 96-66, first place in American League Central, lost to Red Sox in AL Championship Series
Deals so far:
Exercised 2008 options on right-handers Paul Byrd and Joe Borowski and left-hander Aaron Fultz; signed Japanese free-agent right-hander Masahide Kobayashi to a two-year contract
Players eligible for arbitration: Third baseman Casey Blake, right-hander Rafael Betancourt
Outfielders Kenny Lofton and Trot Nixon, infielder Chris Gomez
A run-producing left fielder. The Indians have several in-house options for the job in David Dellucci, Jason Michaels, Ben Francisco and Shin-Soo Choo, but that doesn't preclude the club from looking for an upgrade via a trade. The only question is what the Indians would have to give up to make that upgrade.
Starting pitching is high on a lot of teams' list of needs, and it just so happens to be the Indians' greatest area of depth. C.C. Sabathia, Fausto Carmona, Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd are all expected to pitch in the Tribe's rotation next season, with left-handers Cliff Lee, Aaron Laffey and Jeremy Sowers competing for the fifth spot and top prospect Adam Miller looming.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.