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Busy Tribe lays foundation for rest of offseason

Busy Tribe lays foundation for rest of offseason

Busy Tribe lays foundation for rest of offseason
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Sitting inside his suite at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti smiled at the thought of heading home after a hectic week of discussions and negotiations at these Winter Meetings.

Antonetti knew what his first order of business would be upon landing in Ohio.

"I'll probably go home and play with my daughters a little bit and give them big hugs," Antonetti said. "But, no, it doesn't stop. Hopefully we'll build on the foundation that we laid here and try to get some things pushed across the finish line."

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Cleveland did not complete any signings or trades over the past four days in Nashville, but the ballclub was involved in numerous talks in both the free-agent and trade market. The lone addition arrived on Thursday, when the Indians selected first baseman Chris McGuiness in the annual Rule 5 Draft.

The transaction wire might not include any blockbuster deals or signings by the Tribe, but the team was aggressive behind the scenes. Evidence of that came in the form of a four-year, $44-million offer to free-agent outfielder Shane Victorino, who instead agreed to a three-year deal ($39 million) with Boston. The Tribe was also among a mix of clubs contemplating various scenarios for a mammoth multi-team trade.

"It was pretty busy," Antonetti said. "Most days we were meeting throughout the course of the day, whether it was with teams or with agents. And then when we had time, we'd reconnect as a group and strategize. We were pretty busy."

Antonetti estimated that roughly 60-70 percent of the team's time was devoted to trade discussions. It has been well-documented this winter that Cleveland is willing to entertain trade offers for shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, among others. Cabrera was the subject of a few rumors over the past few days.

MLB.com reported that Cleveland and Arizona were discussing the framework of a deal centered around Cabrera and pitching prospect Trevor Bauer. An escalating number of reports noted that the Rangers, Rays, Royals and Mariners were also in play for a variety of scenarios that could result in a headline-grabbing three- or four-team swap.

Nothing appeared imminent on that front as the Meetings came to a close.

"It's hard to assess probabilities," Antonetti said. "There are a lot of different scenarios and a lot of different alternatives. To some degree, there all a little bit inter-related. ... I'm pretty sure there are a couple things we've done this year where you wouldn't be able to put all the pieces together in 1,000 guesses."

Besides swinging and missing on Victorino, the Indians also finished second in their effort to sign free-agent outfielder Jason Bay. He agreed to a one-year contract with the Mariners rather than taking a comparable deal with the Tribe.

Cleveland currently has interest in free agent Kevin Youkilis for first base and Nick Swisher for the outfield. It is believed that the Indians have offered a two-year deal to Youkilis, who also has a one-year offer worth $12 million from the Yankees, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. Swisher is likely to command a deal north of the one Cleveland offered Victorino.

The Indians also met with free-agent corner infielder Mark Reynolds this week, and the club also reportedly kicked the tires on free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew. The Indians would presumably be interested in Drew as a contingency plan for trading Cabrera. Along those lines, the Tribe has also inquired about the availability of Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon.

Antonetti said he was not disappointed with the fact that he is leaving Nashville without having completed a trade or signing.

"No, not really," said the general manager. "I think our focus is on doing deals that make us better moving forward. They have to be the right deals at the right time, and there hasn't been one, yet."

Here is a glance at Cleveland's activity at the Winter Meetings this week:

Deals done: The Indians were unable to convince any free agents to pen their name on the dotted line before the conclusion of these Winter Meetings. The only transaction made this week in Nashville was picking up McGuiness in the Rule 5 Draft. McGuiness was taken from Texas' Double-A Frisco roster and will come into camp with a chance at an Opening Day job with the Tribe.

Rule 5 Draft activity: Beyond adding McGuiness to the growing first-base field, Cleveland also lost right-handed reliever Hector Rondon (Cubs) and left-handed starter T.J. McFarland (Orioles) in the Major League portion of the Draft. Cleveland still has a chance to re-acquire the pitchers if they do not work their way into their new team's Opening Day plans.

Goals accomplished: The Indians continued to hold a variety of talks on both the trade and free-agent fronts. The club engaged in traditional two-team trade scenarios, but also got involved in complicated multi-team structures. Cleveland also met with and tabled offers to a handful of free-agent possibilities. Nothing came to fruition at the Meetings, but the Tribe was busy behind the scenes.

Unfinished business: The Indians' primary holes heading into the winter remain unresolved. Cleveland is still looking for upgrades for first base, the outfield, designated hitter and the starting rotation. The ballclub has been exploring trades to potentially add pitching prospects, but has also been targeting veteran free agents.

Team's bottom line: "The thing that matters is your roster once you head to Spring Training, and we still have a few months left for that. We just have to be prepared to react and respond to the market. If there are the right deals on the trade or free-agent market, I'm confident we're prepared to move. They just haven't presented themselves yet." -- Antonetti

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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