Caught in a gray area between contending and simply playing out the season, Cleveland chose to stand pat. There was one minor move -- acquiring Minor League first baseman Lars Anderson from the Red Sox -- but the Tribe's Major League roster remained intact.
"We have two months left," Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo said. "We still have a great chance to make the playoffs. I still have very good confidence in this team."
Heading into Tuesday's game against the Royals, the Indians were in third place and five games back of the American League Central-leading White Sox. Cleveland could still try to swing a trade or two in August, and the club will explore its options throughout the waiver period, but the team's chances apear to rest on the roster in hand.
In a conference call on Tuesday, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti described his search for roster upgrades as "exhaustive," but the Tribe did not find a proposal that convinced it to pull the trigger. In the wake of the lack of activity, Antonetti said the team is relying on improvement from his current players to save this season.
"The most important thing," Antonetti said, "is for the guys that are here to do what they can to perform to their potential. I think if that happens, we'll be in a much better position at the end of the season than we are right now."
Rumors swirled throughout Sunday and Monday that Cleveland was entertaining offers for the likes of Choo (expected to test free agency after next season), along with starter Justin Masterson and closer Chris Perez, who are both controllable through the 2014 season. On Tuesday, it was much quieter on the Tribe front.
The perception that the Indians might suddenly become major sellers was misguided, according to manager Manny Acta. The bulk of Cleveland's core -- a cast that includes the likes of Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana, Lonnie Chisenhall, Vinnie Pestano, Perez and Masterson -- is still young.
"That's why I didn't think it was such a distraction in our clubhouse," Acta said. "And I don't think it should be, because we're in it and we're young. Those guys are young and the guys that people were after are guys that are being productive for us right now. It would've been a different environment in our clubhouse if we would've been 20 games out with five veteran players sitting there in the clubhouse and it was probably time to unload them.
"That's why I didn't think it was a big issue. There's always going to be rumors, because the 30 teams have players that are desirable, but I didn't think it was a big issue for us."
Antonetti said the team's hunt for help went down to the wire, and noted that he explored options for the rotation, bullpen and lineup.
"We continued all the way up until the Deadline to look at every alternative," Antonetti said. "That included guys that were short-term fits as well as guys whose contracts extended beyond this year. Ultimately, in the end, we just weren't able to align on the right value."
The lone deal Antonetti made was reeling in Anderson from Boston.
Cleveland sent 27-year-old Double-A knuckleballer Steven Wright to the Red Sox in exchange for Anderson, who will report to Triple-A Columbus. Anderson, 24, spent the bulk of this season with Triple-A Pawtucket, where he hit .259 with nine home runs, 22 doubles and 52 RBIs in 93 games. Along the way, he has posted a .359 on-base percentage and a .415 slugging percentage.
In parts of three seasons with Boston, the left-handed hitting Anderson has gone 8-for-48 (.167) in 30 games. This season, Anderson went just 1-for-8 (.125) in a brief six-game stint with the Red Sox between April and May.
Antonetti said Anderson will play first base, while also getting action at times in the outfield and as a designated hitter.
"He's a big, physical left-handed hitter," Antonetti said. "He's very good around the bag and has a good approach at the plate. He has good strike-zone discipline. We feel he's got ingredients to be a potentially productive Major League player for us."
Wright had gone 9-6 with a 2.49 ERA in 20 starts for Double-A Akron this season.
"We certainly hold Steven in high regard," Antonetti said. "But in order to get a player of value, you have to give a player of value. To Steven's credit, he's done a great job in his transformation to a knuckleball pitcher and is really commited to learning the craft."
Now that the non-waiver trade deadline has passed, deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. In other words, the player must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed by one of the teams, he cannot be traded.
The club that placed the player on waivers can either withdraw the request and keep the player, or let the player go to the claiming team, which would then have the rights to the player.
Choo said he hopes the front office continues its efforts to acquire help.
"I hope so. Why not?" Choo said. "We knew in Spring Training our lineup was all left-handed hitters. We needed a right-handed power hitter and they were looking for it. And then starting pitchers. Next season, or maybe later [this season], you never know.
"I hope we bring somebody here to make it a better team."