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Chris Antonetti Rumors
Entering the All-Star break, the Indians find themselves at .500 and in third place in the AL Central, trailing the Tigers by 7.5 games. Before Cleveland’s 3-2 win over the White Sox, GM Chris Antonetti chatted with reporters for 25 minutes. Here are the highlights (MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian has the complete transcript) :
- Antonetti hasn’t decided whether the Indians will be buyers or sellers at the Trade Deadline. “We’re exploring a lot of different things, opportunities to improve our team for the balance of this season and then position us better moving forward, too. We’ve spent a lot of energy on fits for acquiring guys that we’d have control over beyond this year, not just guys that would just be here for the balance of the year.“
- The Indians’ trade strategy is muddied by the fact there isn’t one glaring weakness on the roster. “It’s actually one of the interesting challenges that we have,” Antonetti said. “So, for us to improve, we need to improve upon a higher standard. And, in some cases, we’re counting on guys that we’ve already made commitments to rebounding. So, it’s a little bit of a different dynamic for us as we look to try to improve our roster.“
- The Indians will “potentially” explore the trade market for starting pitchers. “The one thing we continue to believe is we have quality Major League starting pitchers,” said Antonetti. “Anytime you acquire a guy, you have to think about who it displaces from the team and the rotation, in that case. You have to have a high degree of confidence that it’s an improvement.“
- Antonetti traded for Chris Dickerson because his ability to play all three outfield positions and his success against right-handed pitching is a nice complement to the club in the wake of Michael Bourn‘s hamstring injury. Antonetti added he had interest in Dickerson as a free agent this past offseason, but couldn’t commit at-bats to him at the time.
- Yesterday, the Indians acquired Nick Maronde from the Angels. Antonetti has liked the left-hander “for quite a while” and acknowledged the 24-year-old has had “some trouble throwing strikes, but we think that there’s significant upside there and a guy worth taking a chance on. “
December 6th has been a notable day in Indians transaction history. The Tribe acquired Carlos Baerga, Sandy Alomar Jr. and Chris James from the Padres in exchange for Joe Carter on this day in 1989, and on 12/06/2002, the Indians picked up Travis Hafner (and righty Aaron Myette) from the Rangers in exchange for Einar Diaz and Ryan Drese. Going all the way back to 1959, the Indians swung a seven-player deal with the White Sox that involved such notables as Minnie Minoso (to Chicago) and Norm Cash (to Cleveland).
Here are some notes about the modern-day Indians…
- Right-hander Matt Albers has already received at least one two-year contract offer from an interested team, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Albers has received interest from several clubs, and Hoynes reports that one of those teams is from the AL Central, possibly the Tigers or White Sox. The Indians have discussed a one-year deal with Albers and Hoynes speculates that the righty could take the shorter contract in order to help his value for next winter, provided he gets the right price.
- The Indians are close to re-signing Matt Carson after non-tendering the outfielder earlier this week, Hoynes reports (Twitter link). The contract would be a minor league deal and Carson would be invited to the Major League Spring Training camp. The Tribe non-tendered Carson earlier this week. Carson, 31, hit .252/.322/.394 with 14 homers in 490 PA with Triple-A Columbus last season, and he also received 13 PA in 20 games at the Major League level in 2013.
- The Indians' offseason "focus right now is pitching," GM Chris Antonetti told reporters (including Hoynes) today. "We’re still focused on trying to improve our pitching alternatives. We have come into the offseason in a much better position than we have in prior offseasons with the quality and quantity of our pitching alternatives on our roster and within the organization. That being said, we’re going to continue to try and find a way to improve it.” Antonetti noted that the team would keep its options open for position players, though adding David Murphy already addressed one of the Tribe's big needs.
- The team has "outstanding offers…on trades and free agents. We could go either direction or both," Antonetti said.
- With the 2013-14 offseason shaping up as an extremely costly one for free agent contracts, Antonetti is looking prescient for predicting this winter's spending explosion and instead adding key pieces last winter, MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince writes. It looks like a much more low-key offseason for the Tribe this year, and Castrovince thinks Murphy's two-year, $12MM deal could end up being Cleveland's biggest expenditure.
Indians GM Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona had an end-of-the-year roundup session with the media, including Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Here are some of the hot stove-related items…
- It isn't yet clear if next season's Tribe payroll will be greater or lower than 2013's $80.6MM number, though Antonetti isn't worried. "That's information that we'll get a little later in the offseason when we find out exactly what our payroll will be," Antonetti said. "But that's not the defining thing for us. It's how we build a the best team and I'm confident we'll have the resources we need to build a contending team again next year."
- Pitching seems to be the top priority for the club this winter. When asked if the Indians would go after a middle-of-the-order hitter, Francona said, “It depends on how much pitching we have.”
- Ubaldo Jimenez hasn't made a decision about voiding the $8MM option the club has on his services for next season, Antonetti said. Unsurprisingly, Antonetti said the Tribe would be happy to have Jimenez back in 2014. MLBTR's Steve Adams wrote a Free Agent Profile on Jimenez last month.
- Both men want Jason Giambi to return to the Indians next season, either as a player, coach or possibly both. Giambi has said he wishes to keep playing, so it seems likely the two sides will work something out.
- The Indians will look at Chris Perez's whole career with the team as "the lens" for his arbitration case, Antonetti said, rather than Perez's poor end to the 2013 season. Perez earned $7.3MM last season and will get a raise through the arbitration process, so there have been rumors that the Tribe will look to deal or even non-tender the right-hander.
- Sandy Alomar Jr. will take over as first base coach from Mike Sarbaugh next season, a move that Francona stressed was not a demotion from Alomar's previous job as bench coach. Brad Mills (Francona's long-time bench coach with the Red Sox) will take over as Cleveland's bench coach, while Sarbaugh completes the shuffle by becoming the new third base coach.
- Antonetti didn't comment on whether or not the Cubs have asked for permission to interview first base coach Sandy Alomar for their vacant managerial position. Alomar was a candidate for the Cubs job in 2011 before they hired Dale Sveum, and he's been linked to their current vacancy.
- Lonnie Chisenhall is still the incumbent third baseman, though Bastian suspects the club will look to improve themselves at the hot corner this winter.
- The Indians made the playoffs despite subpar seasons from Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, their two big free agent signings from last offseason. Francona and Antonetti felt that the two players may have been pressing in a new environment, plus Swisher was affected by a shoulder injury and Bourn was adjusting to the American League.
Earlier today, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com spoke with Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti. Here's a look at some highlights…
- Antonetti explained that the Indians' future revenue from upcoming television deals allowed the club to go after free agent Michael Bourn last winter. While the club was in on the outfielder as early as January, it only became a reality after market forces brought down his asking price.
- "You can never have enough pitching but we feel good about a lot of the guys we have," said Antonetti when asked about the prospect of bolstering the starting five. While some on the outside have suggested the Indians may look to improve the rotation, they seem comfortable with what they have.
- Antonetti feels he'll have the support of ownership if the Tribe is in the thick of things in July and the club needs to make a trade. The GM is confident in the depth of his farm system and is ready to make a deal if the right opportunity presents itself.
- The club's pursuit of Terry Francona was more-or-less standard procedure as Antonetti described it. Francona had "not only an interest, but an enthusiastic interest" in the position, and both sides were quickly able to hammer out a deal.
- The organization thinks Trevor Bauer is very close to being a regular contributor in the Indians' rotation. By the second half of the season, the GM hopes that he will be ready to be called up and stay on the big league roster for good. The 22-year-old, of course, came to Cleveland in the three-team Shin-Soo Choo deal in December.
The Yankees made some last minute moves this week when they traded for Vernon Wells and picked up the recently-released Lyle Overbay. Both Wells and Overbay have made the club along with Ben Francisco and Brennan Boesch, leaving Juan Rivera as the odd man out. Tbe first baseman/outfielder was cut loose, though he did cash in on a $100K retention bonus for staying on the roster beyond Tuesday's Article XX(B) deadline. Here's more from the Junior Circuit..
- It's time for the Yankees to start looking for a replacement for Derek Jeter, Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com writes. Eduardo Nunez, who is manning shortstop in Jeter's absence, is not a good solution for the long haul, Matthews argues, and Jeter's age and injury status are both worrisome. Matthews also suggests that the Yankees should have acquired Jose Reyes or Yunel Escobar in the offseason.
- Having gone in just days from being ticketed for Triple-A to being in the big-league rotation with a new contract extension, Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ is thrilled with his recent streak of good fortune, reports MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. "It certainly has been a great few days," says Happ. "There was a long time before that where it wasn't quite as easy, but this kind of makes it all worth it."
- After his team's signings of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, GM Chris Antonetti hopes the Indians will snag a playoff spot, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. The organization felt it needed a splashy offseason to maintain the attention of its fanbase, Pluto writes. "There is risk whenever you make substantial investment," says Antonetti. "But for us, there was even more risk if we didn't."
Indians CEO Paul Dolan explains his team's thought process following a 68-94 season in 2012 and says that a total rebuild was not an option, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. "None of us wanted to think about tearing it down. Our goal is to put together a team to win a World Series. Another goal is to avoid 20 years of losing, which some smaller-market teams have endured." The Indians did trade outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, but rather than also dealing veterans like Asdrubal Cabrera, Chris Perez and Justin Masterson, the team spent heavily on free agents like Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher. Here are more notes from Pluto's interview with Dolan.
- Dolan expresses "a high degree of confidence" in team president Mark Shapiro and GM Chris Antonetti, even though the Indians haven't had a winning season since 2007.
- Dolan also confirms that the Indians offered a four-year, $43MM deal to outfielder Shane Victorino, who ended up going to the Red Sox for three years and $39MM.
- Dolan says he didn't want to worry much about the possibility of Bourn's four-year, $48MM deal turning out badly, but the Indians' history with long-term contracts gives him pause. "We've not had good luck with some of our longer deals," he says. That includes pacts with Travis Hafner, Jake Westbrook and Kerry Wood.
- Pluto notes that season-ticket sales are up since the signings of Bourn and Swisher, but Dolan says that the Indians "will lose money" in 2013. Dolan views the team's offseason spending splurge as an investment in its future.
The signing of Felix Hernandez marks a major move in the history of the Mariners organization but will only matter if the deal is the first of many to come, writes Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times. “This signing, given the size and length of the contract, is the best evidence that the ownership group is committed to winning and doing what it takes to win,” Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln said. Here's the latest news and stories making headlines from around the American League.
- Yunel Escobar made his first comments about his trade to the Rays, reports the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin. Escobar, with teammate Jose Molina acting as his interpreter, said he "felt really happy" about coming to Tampa Bay adding manager Joe Maddon made him feel very welcome and having former teammates like Molina and Kelly Johnson on the team makes him feel like he's "in the family already."
- GM Chris Antonetti discussed the Indians' starting rotation with Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio (audio link).
- White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko reiterated he will not make any decision on his future until after the 2013 season, reports Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com.
- The 2013 Blue Jays offer a lot to like and dislike as CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler breaks down what he's seen so far this Spring Training.
Daniel Seco contributed to this post.
The Indians have been very busy during the first days of 2013 officially announcing the free agent signings of Nick Swisher and Brett Myers. MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports the team will open the season with a payroll hovering around $66-68MM (not including the $2.75MM buyout of Travis Hafner's 2013 club option and the $3.5MM sent to the Reds in the Shin-Soo Choo trade). As a result, GM Chris Antonetti has said the team's financial resources have been exhausted. The lone remaining hole in the lineup is designated hitter. Bastian says the Tribe could rely on internal options like Mike Aviles, Yan Gomes, Ezequiel Carrera, Tim Fedroff, and Rule 5 selection Chris McGuiness. Even bringing back Hafner is a possibility according to Antonetti, "I think some of that is going to depend upon other opportunities for Travis and his thoughts on returning, as well as what opportunities we may have for him compared to other guys." Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has more news and notes concerning the Indians:
- Hoynes adds Matt LaPorta to the list of in-house DH options, but says Antonetti could still sign a hitter or bring one in on a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
- Hoynes thinks Delmon Young would look good as the Tribe's DH, but doesn't see it happening at this time because of his asking price and character issues.
- The Indians will still consider trading Asdrubal Cabrera or Chris Perez, but only if the return is comparable to what they received in the Choo deal.
- The starting rotation looks like Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Myers, and Zach McAllister. Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco are the leading candidates for the fifth spot.
- With the flush of spending of this season, does this put extra pressure on the front office to win now? Hoynes doesn't sense any panic in the hallways of power, especially since new manager Terry Francona can opt-out of his deal if certain members of management lose their jobs.
Blockbuster trades motivated by one team's desire for financial flexibility (AKA a salary dump) like the Marlins-Blue Jays deal or the Red Sox-Dodger swap are nothing new in baseball history. On this date in 1947, the St. Louis Browns and the Boston Red Sox began a two-day trading frenzy involving 13 players (four Browns and nine Red Sox) and the Browns receiving $375K (worth nearly $3.1MM in today's dollars). Here's the latest news, notes, and comments from the present-day American League:
- The Yankees continue to have conversations with free agent outfielder Scott Hairston, writes the New York Post's Dan Martin. Hairston would bring a right-handed power bat to the outfield mix and could fit into a platoon, as the Yankees have already had preliminary discussions to bring back Raul Ibanez.
- The Yankees still want to trim payroll to $189MM by 2014 for luxury tax and revenue sharing refund purposes, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post wonders if Hal Steinbrenner isn't risking a brand worth billions for the millions the team would earn by doing so.
- If the Tigers fail to re-sign Anibal Sanchez, the signing of Torii Hunter will still make the offseason a success, team president and GM Dave Dombrowski told George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. "We'll see where other things take us," Dombrowski said. "If we end up with this major move (Hunter) being our major move of the winter, I would be very happy."
- The Indians have yet to set their 2013 budget, but it is expected to be in the neighborhood of this past season's $65MM, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes. As a result of this "fluid" situation, GM Chris Antonetti must take any intriguing proposals to ownership.
- Also in that article, Hoynes lists the five best and five worst free agent signings by the Tribe.
- The Red Sox will interview Craig Counsell and Greg Colbrunn for their hitting coach opening, reports Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Counsell, a special assistant to Brewers GM Doug Melvin, will interview tomorrow while Colbrunn, the hitting instructor for the Yankees' Single-A affiliate in Charleston, is in the process of being scheduled for another time during the week. The Red Sox have already interviewed their minor league hitting coordinator Victor Rodriguez, former Diamondbacks hitting coach Rick Schu, and Braves assistant hitting coach Scott Fletcher.
4:16pm: Francona has already had preliminary contact with the Indians, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. However, Rosenthal writes that the Tribe may not be able to pay the former Red Sox skipper enough to make him walk from his job as an analyst for ESPN. Francona earned an average annual salary of $4MM in his final contract with Boston.
3:22pm: Indians interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. is the favorite to obtain the permanent managerial position, according to multiple reports. Alomar is the “heavy favorite” to obtain the permanent job, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer calls Alomar the "leading candidate" and notes that former Red Sox manager Terry Francona is another possibility for the position, which opened up this afternoon when the Indians dismissed Manny Acta (Twitter link).
Francona told Heyman he loves working for ESPN, but would “have to think about it” if the right opportunity emerged. However, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggests Francona would want to go somewhere he could win right away (Twitter link). Before managing in Boston, Francona spent the 2001 season in Cleveland’s front office.
Meanwhile, general manager Chris Antonetti still has the support of team president Mark Shapiro and CEO Paul Dolan, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports (Twitter link).