Austin Kearns Rumors

Article XX(B) Free Agents Update: Tuesday

Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement contains a provision that allows certain free agents who are signed to minor league contracts to receive a $100K retention bonus if they are not on the team's 25-man roster or the Major League disabled list five days prior to the season.

Free agents who qualify for this distinction are those who have at least six years of Major League service time and had a Major League contract expire at the end of the previous season, but signed a minor league deal ten or more days prior to Opening Day.

MLBTR has confirmed with MLB that the deadline for teams to decide on these players is today at 11am central time. By the deadline, teams with these players in camp need to decide whether to:

  • Add the player to their 25-man roster or Major League disabled list (or agree to do so in writing).
  • Grant the player his outright release from the minor league contract so that he may pursue opportunities with other teams.
  • Pay the player a $100K retention bonus to keep him in the organization beyond the deadline and send him to the minors.

Here's the latest news from around the league on Article XX(B) signees and their roster statuses with their respective teams (newest updates on top).  

Marlins Sign Austin Kearns

The Marlins signed Austin Kearns to a minor league deal with an invitation to MLB Spring Training, Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post reports. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald wrote this weekend that the Marlins were expected to bring Kearns back.

Kearns played in 87 games for the Marlins this past season, playing first base and both corner outfield positions. The 32-year-old posted a .245/.366/.367 batting line in 175 plate appearances with Miami. SFX represents Kearns, a veteran of 11 MLB seasons.

Florida Notes: Lee, Morrison, Capps, Kearns, Rays

Seventeen years ago today, Cuban defector Livan Hernandez inked a four-year, $4.5MM contract with the Marlins, which included a record $2.5MM signing bonus. Hernandez made his Major League debut just eight months later as a September call-up. Hernandez was instrumental in the Marlins' 1997 World Series title run earning NLCS MVP honors and being named the MVP of the Fall Classic after winning both of his starts against the Indians. Hernandez has found steady employment ever since donning the uniform of the Giants, Expos, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Twins, Rockies, Mets, Nationals (again), Braves, and Brewers. The 37-year-old right-hander pitched for the latter two clubs in 2012 compiling a 6.42 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, and 2.0 HR/9 in 67 1/3 innings out of the bullpen. The Praver/Shapiro client has said he wants to pitch in 2013. In other other news involving MLB's Florida teams:

  • The Marlins have no interest in re-signing first baseman Carlos Lee despite concerns about the health of Logan Morrison, according to's Joe Frisaro. Morrison, recovering from right knee surgery, isn't expected to begin running until a week into Spring Training. 
  • The Marlins are one of several teams in talks with free agent reliever Matt Capps, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
  • Within the same piece, Jackson writes the Marlins are expected to sign Austin Kearns. Clark Spencer, Jackson's colleague at the Herald, adds the deal includes an invitation to Spring Training. Kearns spent 2012 in Miami posting a slash line of .245/.366/.367 in 175 plate appearances while playing both corner outfield positions, first base, and serving as DH in interleague play and as the team's primary right-handed pinch hitter. 
  • Jackson also writes Marlins owner Jeffery Loria has told team president David Samson he can no longer do interviews. This comes in the wake of Loria banning Samson from doing his radio show. Jackson opines this is a mistake because Samson has made himself more accountable and accessible than many team presidents, even amid unpopular decisions made solely by Loria, who, Jackson adds, has refused to speak to the media since mid-November.
  • The Rays will hold their annual development camp this week for 31 of their top prospects. One point of emphasis will be baseball's drug policy in the wake of the organization seeing six of their minor leaguers receive 50-game suspensions in 2012, according to Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times. "It stunk, very disappointing," Rays Director of Minor League Operations Mitch Lukevics said of the suspensions. "We spend as much time on the education of 'Do's and Don'ts' and derailers as much as we do hitting or pitching or throwing. It was very disappointing, there's no getting around it."

Marlins Sign Austin Kearns

The Marlins announced that they signed corner outfielder Austin Kearns to a minor league deal that includes an invitation to Spring Training. SFX represents Kearns, who appeared in 57 games with the Indians in 2011. 

The ten-year MLB veteran posted a .200/.302/.287 line in 174 plate appearances for the Indians last year, and got released in July. Kearns, a right-handed hitter, owns a career line of .254/.350/.417 and has historically had a little more success against left-handed pitching.

Indians Release Austin Kearns

The Indians have released outfielder Austin Kearns, according to a club press release.

The Tribe designated Kearns for assignment last week to make room on the active roster for Shin-Soo Choo, who was activated from the disabled list. Now, after clearing waivers, the 31-year-old is a free agent.

Kearns re-signed with Cleveland on a one-year, $1.3MM contract in December. He began the 2010 campaign with the Indians but was traded to the Yankees prior to the non-waiver trade deadline.

The former first-round pick (No. 7 overall in 1998) was once a highy touted prospect in the Reds organization, but has played mostly like a fourth outfielder or platoon type throughout his career. He has hit .254/.350/.417 in 10 big league seasons with the Reds, Nationals, Indians and Yankees.

Indians Designate Austin Kearns For Assignment

The Indians announced that they have designated outfielder Austin Kearns for assignment to create active roster space for Shin-Soo Choo, who has been activated from the disabled list. Choo had been on the DL since June 25th after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured thumb.

Kearns signed a one-year, $1.3MM deal with the Indians last offseason and produced a .200/.302/.287 line with two homers in 174 plate appearances. He played both corner outfield positions for the Tribe, but saw his slash line drop significantly; he posted a .263/.351/.395 line for the Indians and Yankees in 2010.

Indians Notes: Bauer, Talbot, Kearns

Are they for real? Are they going to fade? We debate; the Indians keep on winning. Here's the latest on the Tribe, which enters tonight's action with an MLB-best 26 wins… 

  • The Indians, who select eighth overall in this year’s draft, figure to select a college arm and ‘would love’ UCLA right-hander Trevor Bauer, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America (on Twitter). We heard something similar from’s Keith Law last week.
  • As’s Jordan Bastian explains, Mitch Talbot is nearly ready to come off the disabled list, so it’s time for the Indians to consider re-organizing their pitching staff. Talbot is out of options and figures to assume a role in the rotation or, potentially, in the ‘pen. Alex White and Carlos Carrasco have options and could be demoted to the minors leagues without being exposed to waivers.
  • On his weekly podcast, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer suggests that the Indians could pursue a right-handed hitter as a bench bat or semi-regular if they're looking add a player midseason.
  • Indians manager Manny Acta likes Austin Kearns for his outfield defense, even though he has struggled at the plate, according to Hoynes.

Contract Details: Votto, Saito, Thome, Bloomquist

Updates to a few recently completed contracts…

Indians Sign Austin Kearns

The Indians signed outfielder Austin Kearns to a one-year, Major League contract, according to the team's Twitter feed.  The deal is worth $1.3MM plus incentives, reports's Jordan Bastian, who also notes that the Indians will have to remove someone from their 40-man roster for Kearns.  Kearns spent the 2010 season with the Tribe before being traded to the Yankees on July 30th for Zach McAllister.

Kearns, 30, hit .263/.351/.395 in 461 plate appearances this year, playing mainly left field.  I imagine the Indians' ideal outfield setup involves Shin-Soo Choo, Grady Sizemore, and Michael Brantley as starters and Kearns as the primary backup.  Kearns is represented by SFX.

The Kearns deal marks Chris Antonetti's first Major League signing as Cleveland's GM.  Antonetti agreed to a minor league deal with Travis Buck earlier today.  Bastian notes that the Indians remain in the market for a veteran starting pitcher and perhaps a third baseman.

Odds & Ends: Nady, Rangers, Felix, Gregg

Eight years ago today, the Twins released David Ortiz. He has since hit 291 regular season homers and 12 more in the playoffs, all for the Red Sox. Here are today's links…