Sheldon Ocker

CLEVELAND: If there was any doubt that the Indians’ deep thinkers consider this team a potential contender for the Central Division championship this year and next, General Manager Chris Antonetti put that idea to rest Thursday.

“Absolutely,” he said. “The way we look at it, we feel this is a very talented roster, and that we can compete with teams in our division. The most important thing is that we play to our ability. We will look to supplement this group, but no one or two players we might acquire now or in the offseason is going to dictate our success.”

That means Antonetti still is trying to make a deal to strengthen the club — not acquire prospects for a rebuilding project — before Wednesday’s 4 p.m. deadline.

Antonetti never reveals whom he is trying to pry loose from another team, and this year he hasn’t prioritized his needs in public, but he did say he would prefer to obtain a player the Tribe can control for awhile rather than a rental player, who leaves at the end of the season.

“But I think it’s fair to say that we’re not limiting ourselves [to players who will stay],” he said. “We’re not opposed to taking players for the short term.”

As he said earlier, when asked whether pitching or offense was the priority, “There are a number of ways to improve our situation, so we’re flexible.”

He added that because Roberto Hernandez presumably will be added to the rotation after his suspension ends Aug. 10, the idea of obtaining a starter has not been abandoned.

“To some extent, we factor that [Hernandez’s return] in,” he said, “but we will still look at pitching options.”

It probably will not be easy for Antonetti to consummate an impact trade because he can’t afford to part with many players other teams might want. Consequently, making a deal is far from assured.

“Absolutely that’s a possibility,” he said. “It’s difficult to get all the ingredients of a trade. So a trade is a possibility, but not a certainty.”

Antonetti wouldn’t be pinned down when asked whether the next few wins or losses would determine whether the club will be a buyer or a seller.

“I think every game is important,” he said. “They affect our place in the standings, especially when they are against division opponents. But they’re all important.”

Sheldon Ocker can be reached at socker@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ.