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Indians head to Meetings in search of pitching help

Indians head to Meetings in search of pitching help

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Indians head to Meetings in search of pitching help

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The past couple of weeks have been packed with activity around baseball. As free agents have claimed lucrative contracts and teams have swung trades big and small, the Indians have remained relatively quiet while monitoring the market.

The Tribe's brass has convened at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort, where the club will continue to build on the groundwork that has been laid in early offseason talks. Over the next four days at the Winter Meetings, Cleveland will explore ways to improve a roster that won the American League's top Wild Card spot this past season.

"We went into the offseason with a defined set of needs," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said on Friday, "and in a much better position than maybe the last few offseasons."

MLB.com will have the Meetings covered extensively and all the latest Tribe news will be on Indians.com. The Indians' head into these Meetings with pitching -- both for the rotation and bullpen -- as the top priority, considering the amount of arms potentially lost to free agency this winter. Cleveland needs at least one starter and added depth for a relief corps that has uncertainty surrounding the back end of the staff.

The Indians have already lost left-hander Scott Kazmir (A's) and setup man Joe Smith (Angels) this winter. Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, along with relievers Matt Albers, Chris Perez and Rich Hill, are among Cleveland's free agents as well.

To this point this winter, the Indians' main acquisition was the free-agent signing of veteran outfielder David Murphy to a two-year contract worth a guaranteed $12 million. The goal of that addition is to improve the club's production against right-handed pitching with Murphy serving as the team's regular right fielder.

Cleveland has made an assortment of small moves -- re-signing Jason Giambi to a Minor League contract, trading for lefty Colt Hynes from the Padres and adding a handful of non-roster invitees, for example -- but has essentially stayed away from the large contracts being dished out this winter.

As Antonetti recently explained, part of the Indians' reasoning for spending more than $100 million on free agents last winter was due to the expected market this winter.

"Really, some of our strategy last offseason was to put ourselves in a stronger position this offseason," Antonetti said. "We acquired players that would fit and impact our roster beyond just the 2013 season. So now that we're looking at 2014, some of those same players we acquired last year, we expect will impact us going forward. That's lessened some of the needs going into this offseason."

Antonetti was also quick to remind that many of Cleveland's major moves last winter came to fruition after the Winter Meetings.

Cleveland completed the nine-player, three-team deal that netted Drew Stubbs, Trevor Bauer, Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw on Dec. 11 last year. Free-agents Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn did not sign their long-term pacts with the Tribe until Jan. 3 and Feb. 15, respectively.

"This year, we've already made what we feel is a significant acquisition in David Murphy," Antonetti said. "We expect there will be other activity between now and Spring Training. The magnitude of that, or exactly what shape that'll take, is hard to say right now."

Indians manager Terry Francona, who won the Baseball Writers' Association of America's American League Manager of the Year Award this year, is scheduled to sit down with reporters at 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday. The annual Rule 5 Draft is slated for 9 a.m. on Thursday, and Cleveland is eligible to make a selection, considering it has two open spots on the 40-man roster.

Beyond the daily coverage on Indians.com, the team's official site will also feature multimedia content to provide a closer look at the happenings at the Meetings. Fans are also encouraged to join the discussions in the comments section below to address the various issues facing the ballclub.

The rumors and reports flying throughout the Winter Meetings will undoubtedly throw more fuel on the speculatory fire. Over the next four days, baseballs general managers will be meeting behind closed doors, and fans can meet on MLB.com to debate what moves need to be made before Opening Day arrives.

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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