"It's pretty obvious," Shapiro said. "If you're looking for an announcement that we're going to start trading guys, you won't get that until we make our first trade. But I think it's fairly obvious at this point."
Shapiro said he and his front-office staffers have been doing their due diligence to assess the potential trade market for "quite some time." The club simultaneously has been investigating trading possibilities from both a buying and selling standpoint while waiting for the performance of the team to dictate which direction it goes.
That direction has never been clearer. It's expected the Indians will be sellers.
This could dictate a change of scenery for staff ace C.C. Sabathia, who undoubtedly would be the biggest name on the trading block. It is believed the Tribe is making a last-ditch effort to sign Sabathia -- who is eligible for free agency after this season -- to a contract extension. But Sabathia cut off negotiations at the beginning of Spring Training, and the Indians' prospects of signing him were never considered all that strong to begin with.
The Cubs, Dodgers, Phillies, Brewers, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees are just some of the teams that have been rumored as potential landing places for Sabathia. But the Indians' asking price likely will be steep.
The Tribe knows it can keep Sabathia through the season and receive two first-round Draft selections for 2009 if he is lost to free agency. Obviously, though, acquiring players at or near Major League readiness would be a more favorable scenario for an Indians club with no shortage of questions to answer for '09.
As for '08, the season has been nothing short of a disaster, from both a performance and an injury standpoint.
"If you had told me at the beginning of the year that we're going to play the balance of the season without Victor [Martinez] and [Travis] Hafner and [Fausto] Carmona and [Jake] Westbrook, I'd say it would be very challenging to contend," Shapiro said. "In addition to that, if you would have told me our bullpen would be poor, I'd say we would not be a contender.
"So in light of what's happened, it's very straightforward and cut and dry. But that doesn't mean it's not disappointing."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.