The Cleveland Indians Need James Karinchak to Make Brad Hand Expendable

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A few weeks ago, I noted how complicated the Cleveland Indians’ closer situation could become if we didn’t have baseball in 2020.

The thinking was that, should the season be cancelled, the Indians wouldn’t know what they have in bullpen prospects Emmanuel Clase and James Karinchak. With a decision needing to be made about Brad Hand’s $10 million option for 2021, not knowing if Clase or Karinchak is ready to step in as the future closer would only further muddy the waters.

Back then, the idea of baseball taking place this summer was one which made this call easier for Cleveland. Now, while a season is still possible, the situation wouldn’t become suddenly straightforward if it takes place.

Thanks to Clase’s suspension, the Indians have only one closer prospect to count on when it comes to providing clarity for next offseason. Essentially, Cleveland is looking for Karinchak to pitch well enough this year to make Hand expendable.

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Casey Drottar is an Cleveland Indians writer for Sports Illustrated. Subscribe to his podcast, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook


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