On MLB.com, there is an article up now about 5 Questions facing each team across each league. (Starting with the AL West and NL East.) So inspired by that idea, I ask one question for each team in the AL Central. (In alphabetical order.)
Will the Indians Trade Francisco Lindor?
The biggest question looming over the Indians is whether or not they will trade top shortstop Francisco Lindor. Francisco Lindor is among the upper echelon of players in MLB and especially in the AL Central. However, the decision of whether or not to move Francisco is less about Lindor and more about the Indians. And specifically where the Indians are at on the Win-Curve. Cleveland had been a Cinderella story since their improbable run to the World Series in 2016. But since then, they have not been able to capture that same momentum and make a run. So now the Indians must decide if they are better off moving a franchise-changing player like Francisco Lindor to get value back in return. It’s mostly the same question that plagued the Boston Red Sox until they traded Mookie Betts.
Royals (Kansas City)
What to do with Whit Merrifield?
There has been little to no chatter about the availability of Whit Merrifield. Likewise, there has been little to no chatter believing that the Kansas City Royals will compete in 2020. So the rebuilding Royals could wait and see how the season begins to shake out, and Merrifield could become an exciting commodity to a contender. The Royals have very little to excite a mainstream audience.
However, a deeper dive into their roster and there are players to be excited about in 2020. The aforementioned, Whit Merrifield is exciting but also names like Hunter Dozier, Adalberto Mondesi, Bubba Starling, Jorge Soler, both first basemen named Ryan (O’Hearn, McBroom,) a healthy Salvador Perez, and the man with the best laugh in baseball, Brett Phillips. KC may not compete for a postseason spot in 2020, but it will be a fun and dynamic club to watch.
Will we see Casey Mize?
The main question coming out of the Tigers season will be about the former number one pick, Casey Mize. The Tigers are likely to be at the bottom of the AL Central this season. Miguel Cabrera is likely passed a point in his Hall of Fame-caliber career where he can carry the Tigers. But Tigers fans are all going to be asking the question, when will we see Casey Mize?
Can the Twins get over the Hump?
The Minnesota Twins have impressed analysts with their ability over the past few seasons. Minnesota would also demolish the single-season team homerun record with 307 homers in 2019. While it’s unlikely the Twins will reapproach that homerun total in 2020, they are still likely the favorite to capture the AL Central crown. Minnesota has a lot of very exciting players. Players like Jose Berrios, Eddie Rosario, Mitch Garver, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Byron Buxton, and Max Kepler. And now adding winning type players like Josh Donaldson and Kenta Maeda and the Twins separate themselves even more in the AL Central. But the question is, have the Twins done enough to get them over the hump and be able to advance onto the next level?
White Sox (Chicago)
Have the White Sox Done Enough to Compete?
The Chicago White Sox have made quite a few moves this offseason. And being one of the more active teams, this offseason doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve improved. The signings of Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, and Edwin Encarnacion elevated the White Sox to (arguably) second in the AL Central. But being among the offseason moves winners doesn’t always translate to the diamond. How the players mesh on the field means something. And also, if some of their young players can mature, that will matter a great deal for where the White Sox ultimately want to go in 2020.
Final Thoughts on the AL Central
This division is better than it was in 2019 because more teams are competing. (At least they appear to be trying to win.) The Twins, White Sox, and Indians are seem poised to try and capture the AL Central or at least one AL Wild Card spot. The Tigers, much like the Orioles in the AL East will be bottom feeders. These cellar-dwellers will serve to prop up the stronger clubs in their divisions. The Royals are a fascinating club to me, and even though I don’t think that they will compete in 2020. They have some players that I will have an interest in keeping an eye on in 2020.
However, continue to stay tuned to LaracuenteLedger.com as we continue this series of the Big Question facing each Division in MLB.