Cleveland Indians Winter Meeting Rumors: Are David Price and Grant Balfour on the Radar?

Updated: December 10, 2013

As the rumor mill begins to heat up at Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings, the Cleveland Indians have been connected to some pretty big names. While many of us were convinced the Indians would be looking at acquiring a power bat to bolster the lineup, the predominant names connected with the Tribe thus far are Tampa Bay Rays pitcher, David Price, and former Oakland Athletics closer, Grant Balfour.

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports was the one who created the Price to Cleveland connection, as he wrote, “The following is speculation on my part: The Indians’ package could center on Carlos Santana, who brings the power/patience combination the Rays would love and is under club control through 2017 on a team-friendly contract. Derek Shelton, the Rays’ respected hitting coach, held the same position in Cleveland while Santana was a minor leaguer there.”

Twitter has since taken off based on Morosi’s comments, but the deal would make sense for both sides if the Indians could get Price to agree to a contract extension. Price would be the front-end, left-handed starter the team has lacked since the days of C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee. At just 28-years old, the 6’6” and 220-pound lefty has racked up career numbers of 71 wins, 39 losses and an ERA of 3.19. He is coming off a “down” year, so to speak, as he finished just 10-8 with a 3.33 ERA after winning 20 games back in 2012.

It is not very often you have an opportunity to acquire a pitcher like Price who is just coming into his prime, which is why fans should not balk at losing Santana if the deal can be worked out. At just 27-years old, Santana was expected to be the next coming of Victor Martinez in Cleveland. However, in his three years of full-time duty he has not matured into the same type of hitter for average as Martinez, or the game manager behind the plate. His deficiencies as a catcher have already been documented, which led Tribe skipper Terry Francona to name Yan Gomes the team’s starting catcher in 2014.

With Gomes coming off a breakout year in his first year with the team and Nick Swisher locked in at first base with his big contract, it makes Santana expendable if the team can get the right Price (completely a pun) for him. As a career .254 hitter, Santana has belted 71 home runs and drove in 251 RBIs, but he has struck out 373 times as well.

In regard to Balfour, Morosi tweeted, “Indians have talked with Grant Balfour, sources say. They need a closer.”

The obvious part of that tweet is the need for a closer, as the Indians parted ways with beleaguered closer Chris Perez this offseason. After acquiring closer Jim Johnson from Baltimore, the Athletics no longer have a need for Balfour. At 35-years old, he is likely not the long-term solution for the Indians, but he is coming off back-to-back seasons for 24 and 38 saves and could be a stop gap until someone else emerges.

While the Indians are certainly going to be connected to a lot of different names this week, these are two names to watch for. Other teams could certainly provide a plethora of young options for the Rays for Price, but very few would be willing to part with a player of Santana’s caliber at this stage of the game according to reports. This could potentially be a big week for the front office of the Cleveland Indians.

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