September 2008

Offseason Outlook: Cleveland Indians

The Indians are next in our Offseason Outlook series.  Their likely commitments for 2009:

C – Victor Martinez – $5.7MM
C – Kelly Shoppach – $404K+
1B – Ryan Garko – $420K
2B – Asdrubal Cabrera – $400K
SS – Jhonny Peralta – $3.4MM
3B – Andy Marte – $400K
IF – Jamey Carroll – $2.5MM club option or $150K buyout
LF – Shin-Soo Choo – $400K
CF – Grady Sizemore – $4.6MM
RF – Franklin Gutierrez – $405K
OF – David Dellucci – $4MM
OF – Ben Francisco – $400K
DH – Travis Hafner – $11.5MM

SP – Cliff Lee – $5.75MM
SP – Fausto Carmona – $2.75MM
SP – Anthony Reyes – $400K
SP – Jeremy Sowers – $400K
SP – Scott Lewis – $400K

RP – Masahide Kobayashi – $3MM
RP – Rafael Betancourt – $3.35MM
RP – Rafael Perez – $407K
RP – Jensen Lewis – $400K
RP – Edward Mujica – $400K
RP – Tom Mastny – $400K
RP – John Meloan – $400K

Other rotation candidates: Jake Westbrook – $10MM (due back from Tommy John around All-Star break), Aaron Laffey – $400K, Zach Jackson – $400K, David Huff – $400K

The Indians are all about cost certainty – I don’t see any major arbitration cases coming up aside from Shoppach.  If they retain Carroll, they’ll have about $64MM committed.  The Indians entered this season with a $79MM payroll, so they could have $15MM to spend this winter.

The Indians were right in the middle of the AL with a .339 OBP and .424 SLG.  In the second half, though, the Tribe had one of the AL’s best offenses.  Overall the Indians had below-average offensive performances at first base, second base, third base, left field, right field, and designated hitter.

Choo’s encouraging performance indicates he might be able to hold down an outfield corner.  Matt LaPorta could take the other.  The Indians have to hope Hafner can become a useful hitter again, if not the offensive force of 2004-06.  The team seems likely to seek upgrades in the infield.  All four positions are fair game, as Peralta could be moved to third due to questionable defense at short.  Cabrera could move to short.

Possible free agent fits: Orlando Hudson and Rafael Furcal.  Many infielders may be on the trade market: Adrian Beltre, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Dan Uggla, Adam LaRoche, Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora, Mike Jacobs, Edwin Encarnacion, Garrett Atkins, Robinson Cano, Freddy Sanchez, and Rickie Weeks.  The Indians could use Shoppach as a trade chip, but only if they’re confident with Martinez behind the dish long-term.

The rotation is shaky after Lee, as Carmona had a terrible year and Westbrook will be out until midyear.  Carmona dealt with a strained hip for much of ’08; the Indians need him to regain his control next year.  Reyes and Lewis showed promise in small samples, but a shrewd veteran addition a la Kevin Millwood in ’05 would stabilize the rotation.  Freddy GarciaBartolo ColonRandy Johnson, maybe?

The Indians are focused on importing a closer, though they may stick with Lewis if nothing works out.  Brian Fuentes could make sense, and the trade market might offer B.J. Ryan, Huston Street, and Kevin Gregg.

It will be a challenging offseason for Mark Shapiro, as the Indians have many needs.  A payroll increase could go a long way, though attendance doesn’t seem to support one.

Padres Likely To Exercise Giles’ Option

According to Corey Brock of, the Padres are leaning toward exercising right fielder Brian Giles‘ $9MM option as opposed to the $3MM buyout.  It’s been odd to see the Padres waver on this decision.  Giles hit .306/.398/.456 this year, his OBP ranking sixth in the league.  His defense was also a major plus.

Given the impending non-tender for Josh Bard, the Padres can probably retain both Giles and Trevor Hoffman without going too far past a $50MM payroll.  Still, it’ll be a shame if the Padres reduce payroll to that level.

Cashman Signs Extension With Yankees

8:39pm: The extension runs through 2011.  Cashman looks forward to the challenge.

4:16pm: Kat O’Brien of Newsday is reporting that Brian Cashman and the Yankees have reached an agreement on a three-year extension.

Brian Cashman has agreed to return as the Yankees general manager on a three-year contract, Newsday has learned. Cashman deliberated over the decision about whether it was time to move on after 11 seasons as GM, but gave the Yankees an affirmative answer this afternoon. In the end, a Yankees source said, it came down to what was best for his family. The new contract will be for slightly more than Cashman had been making, putting it at in the ballpark of $2-million per year.

This move is not unexpected as both Jon Heyman and George A. King III had reported in recent days that Cashman wanted to return to the Yankees.

A formal announcement from the Yankees is expected later today.

Cork Gaines writes for and can be reached here.

Odds and Ends: Byrnes, Teixeira, Swisher

Random links for Tuesday…

MLBTR Chat Transcript

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Maddux Trade Completed

According to’s Corey Brock, the Dodgers’ playoff berth resulted in the Padres receiving better prospects from the August Greg Maddux trade.  Brock says the Padres received southpaw Michael Watt and righty Eduardo Perez from the Dodgers. Paul DePodesta describes the prospects on his blog.

Indians Leaning Toward Brantley In C.C. Deal

According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Indians made decide on the final player in the C.C. Sabathia trade today.  Hoynes says the Indians are leaning toward outfielder Michael Brantley over third baseman Taylor Green.  Hoynes reminds us that the Indians have already received Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson, and Rob Bryson from the Brewers.

Braves May Have $45MM To Spend

TUESDAY: Dave O’Brien rattles off a few more pitchers of interest for the Braves: Matt Cain, Ryan Dempster, and Brad Penny.

MONDAY: In our Braves Offseason Outlook, we suggested the Braves might have $40MM to spend this winter even if they hold payroll steady.  Instead, GM Frank Wren revealed today that payroll will increase beyond last year’s $102.4MM.’s Mark Bowman estimates Wren will have $45MM to work with.

As you know, the Braves intend to add two veteran starters as well as a slugging outfielder.  They’ll also attempt to re-sign John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Mike Hampton.  We covered this in the outlook, but it seems the Braves will sign one of Derek Lowe or A.J. Burnett.  They could complement that signing by inking a Japanese pitcher (or just a Paul Byrd type), and then survey the robust free agent market for left fielders.  The Braves will monitor the trade market, but their top prospects are not available.

Yankees Rumors: Jeter, Sabathia, Hudson

Let’s talk Yankees.

  • Ken Davidoff makes recommendations for the ’09 Yankees.  He would sign Derek Lowe and Andy Pettitte, and offer arbitration to Damaso Marte and Bobby Abreu.
  • Jim Baumbach explains a tricky situation coming up: re-signing Derek Jeter.
  • Peter Abraham takes a look at various free agents on the minds’ of Yankees fans.
  • Tyler Kepner of the New York Times says first priority for the Yankees is to re-sign Brian Cashman.  I imagine they already have a Plan B in place, but recent reports lean toward Cashman returning.
  • Kepner says the Indians were aggressive in pursuing a deadline deal involving Phil Hughes and C.C. Sabathia.  Now, Kepner says the Yankees are skeptical they’ll be able to sign Sabathia.  For Plan B, the Yanks seem to prefer pitchers with American League experience.  They’ll probably stand pat on the bullpen, though a decision must be made on Damaso Marte‘s option.
  • If the Yankees can engineer a Robinson CanoMatt Kemp swap (unlikely), they could then sign free agents Mark Teixeira and Orlando Hudson.  The right-side infield defense would be drastically improved.
  • Bill Madden of the New York Daily News is more pessimistic – he doesn’t see the team’s internal center field options working out, nor does he consider the free agent signings wise.

A’s Rumors: Ellis, Embree

More A’s rumors and news, courtesy of Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (here and here).

  • GM Billy Beane is committed to the long-term plan, and is not interested in quick fixes.  He’d like to add a free agent bat, probably an older player on a short-term commitment (Jason Giambi could make sense).
  • Second baseman Mark Ellis had shoulder surgery a few weeks ago.  The uncertainty hurts his free agency prospects, which might give the A’s a better chance to re-sign him.  Ellis is a Beane favorite, and the A’s hope to bring him back.
  • The A’s will decide on Alan Embree‘s $3MM option after the World Series.