CLEVELAND -- The Indians clearly have given themselves a chance in the weak American League Central. They've been in first place for 83 of the last 89 days, and they entered play Tuesday with a 1 1/2-game lead over the Tigers.
The Indians also clearly need to add offense. They were 26th in baseball in runs scored in June, behind the Padres and the Royals, among others.
"Our offense has been the area where we've probably been the least consistent," general manager Chris Antonetti admitted Tuesday. "As we sit here today, our focus would be on trying to improve our offense."
With three left-handed hitters and two switch hitters in their everyday lineup (and with lefty-hitting Shin-Soo Choo expected back sometime in August), the Indians would like to add a right-handed bat. Antonetti said he has already had discussions with ownership, and sources said the Indians believe they can add at least a little to their payroll, which was just $49.2 million (26th in baseball) on opening day.
While Antonetti said he will be looking to the trade market, he also suggested that the Indians could look internally for help. You can take that to mean that second baseman Jason Kipnis, hitting .305 with 50 RBI in 79 games at Triple-A Columbus, could be promoted to Cleveland any day now.
The Indians have already talked about promoting Kipnis, sources said, but they have been patient, in part because when he does arrive they want him to play second base every day. They didn't feel the same way about Cord Phelps, a lesser prospect they brought up last month for what has been more of a utility role.
While the Indians are willing to invest something towards improving their chances of winning this year, they're not going to go all-in. They're highly unlikely to trade away any of their top prospects, because their chances of remaining competitive with a low payroll (and it's not likely to go up by much in the near future) depend on having young, low-priced talent.