GOODYEAR, Ariz. – The Cleveland Indians, enduring many obstacles and injuries, came close to bringing the city its first World Series since 1948 last year and are looking to be even stronger in the 2017 season.
The Tribe seized the franchise’s first American League pennant in 19 years last season and the front office is making big moves in the offseason. Mike Napoli, who led the team with 34 homers and 101 RBIs was signed by the Rangers and Cleveland chose Edwin Encarnacion to fill his role at first base. Encarnacion will be a younger and more efficient replacement for Napoli, being one of the Major League’s most feared hitters, according to MLB Trade Rumors. Encarnacion finished last season with 42 home runs and a league-leading 127 RBIs.
Rajai Davis, who led the American League with 43 stolen bases and hit the game-tying home run of Game 7 in the World Series was also ousted by the Indians. The Tribe hopes to return Michael Brantley to replace Davis in the outfield. Brantley is recovering from a series of procedures on his right shoulder that caused him to miss most of the 2016 season. According to Fansided Brantley said, “All I know is that I’m healthy right now and I have a progression to go through. Once I get through that I’ll be ready to rock and roll.” Brantley said he feels better than he did a year ago.
Bolstering the Indians’ playoff hopes are big-name returners such as Corey Kluber, with a 3.14 ERA and Andrew Miller, who struck out 46 out of 103 batters faced. Rounding out the franchise is Francisco Lindor a switch-hitting shortstop who ESPN believes to have the potential to be a perennial MVP candidate.
The Indians’ kick off spring training at Goodyear Ballpark on Feb. 16. Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 12, a day earlier than most of the MLB.