Francisco Lindor, for now, remains the franchise cornerstone in Cleveland. He’s one of the game’s most charismatic and entertaining players, plus he’s an outrageous talent — a no-doubt first-round fantasy pick. Lindor is also under team control for the next two years, his manager certainly doesn’t want to see him go, and there’s no obvious reason for the ballclub to feel compelled to move him. It’s kinda crazy that Lindor trade speculation and rumors were swirling for months. For the sake of Cleveland’s fanbase, here’s hoping he remains a member of the squad long-term. Lindor is endless fun, a 30/20 player in back-to-back seasons. If he slips beyond the seventh pick in your fantasy draft, it’s a gift.
Beyond Lindor, there are a handful of bright spots in Cleveland’s lineup — notably Jose Ramirez, Franmil Reyes, and Carlos Santana — but also an abundance of meh. It’s hard to look at the lineup below and think it’s the equal of either of the lineups above. Last season, this club finished almost perfectly league-average in total runs scored, home runs, team batting average, and OPS. Cleveland’s batting order offers a consensus fantasy first-rounder, one second-rounder, and then, um ... some other dudes. Nobody is gonna confuse this squad with the group that ruled Jacobs Field in the late-90s.
Corey Kluber relocated to Texas via trade in the offseason, so that’s one potential ace out of the mix for Cleveland. Over the past two seasons, Mike Clevinger has produced a 10.4 K/9, 3.12 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 326.0 innings, so he’s a circle-of-trust upper-tier fantasy pitcher. The start to his season could be delayed by a week or two (depending on when MLB opens) following meniscus surgery, but the injury is not a long-term worry. He’s approved for use at his ADP in Yahoo leagues (56.0).
Shane Bieber was a monster last season (259 Ks, 1.05 WHIP) and certainly deserves a third-round look. Carlos Carrasco is back, which is awesome news, though he had been dealing with a hip flexor malfunction. Aaron Civale was a small-sample hero last year (2.34 ERA, 1.04 WHIP), but most projection systems paint an ugly picture of his 2020 prospects. His stuff wasn’t overpowering (8.8 swinging strike %) and his ERA and FIP were a mile apart.