Indians feeling ready for AL Central title chase

Kipnis is key piece to talented lineup; Kluber leads deep rotation

Indians feeling ready for AL Central title chase

CLEVELAND -- Rather than overhauling their offense, the Indians made a handful of tweaks this winter. Instead of trading from its talented starting rotation, Cleveland kept its pitching staff together, placing faith in that group to guide the way back to the October stage.

The Tribe did not steal any national headlines with its offseason transactions, but that is due to the belief that the core group in place still has the makings of a contender. Cleveland added free agents Rajai Davis and Mike Napoli on one-year contracts to boost the lineup and then concentrated on stockpiling outfield and bullpen depth throughout the winter.

• Spring Training preview: Brantley among bounceback candidates | Indians add complementary pieces | Prospect watch | Outfielders to battle

All-Star Jason Kipnis feels the roster in place can compete in the American League Central.

Outlook: Kipnis, 2B, CLE

"In my mind, we have a really good lineup," Kipnis said. "Guys might have been banged up last year or underperformed, but they're still good players. If everybody has the year they're supposed to have, I like our lineup, especially to go with our staff."

MLB.com has been examining various aspects of each team's roster in the days leading up to Spring Training. After Indians pitchers and catchers report on Wednesday, and the full squad follows suit on Sunday, a handful of competitions will begin. There are jobs up for grabs in the outfield, bullpen and back end of the rotation.

For now, here is a look at how the lineup and pitching staff could look on Opening Day:

2015 record
81-80, third place in the AL Central

Projected batting order
1. LF Davis:
.258 BA, .306 OBP, .440 SLG, 8 HR, 30 RBI, 18 SB in 2015
2. SS Francisco Lindor :
.313 BA, .353 OBP, .482 SLG, 12 HR, 51 RBI in 2015
3. 2B Kipnis:
.303 BA, .372 OBP, .451 SLG, 9 HR, 52 RBI, 86 R in 2015
4. 1B Napoli:
.224 BA, .324 OBP, .410 SLG, 18 HR, 50 RBI in 2015
5. DH Carlos Santana :
.231 BA, .357 OBP, .395 SLG, 19 HR, 85 RBI, 108 BB in 2015
6. C Yan Gomes :
.231 BA, .267 OBP, .391 SLG, 12 HR, 45 RBI in 2015
7. RF Lonnie Chisenhall :
.246 BA, .294 OBP, .372 SLG, 7 HR, 44 RBI in 2015
8. 3B Giovanny Urshela :
.225 BA, .279 OBP, .330 SLG, 6 HR, 21 RBI in 2015
9. CF Abraham Almonte :
.264 BA, .321 OBP, .455 SLG, 5 HR, 20 RBI in 2015

Outlook: Kluber, SP, CLE

Projected rotation
1. Corey Kluber , 9-16, 3.49 ERA, 245 K in 2015
2. Carlos Carrasco , 14-12, 3.63 ERA, 216 K in 2015
3. Danny Salazar , 14-10, 3.45 ERA, 195 K in 2015
4. Trevor Bauer , 11-12, 4.55 ERA, 170 K in 2015
5. Josh Tomlin , 7-2, 3.02 ERA, 0.84 WHIP in 2015

Projected bullpen
Closer: Cody Allen , 34/38 saves, 2.99 ERA, 99 K in 2015
Setup man: Bryan Shaw , 2.95 ERA, 74 G in 2015
Setup man: Zach McAllister , 3.00 ERA, 84 K in 2015

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.