Cleveland Indians Rumors

Cleveland Indians trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

NL Notes: Phillies, Dodgers, Nationals

Here are some notes out of the National League:

  • The Phillies have yet to receive an offer that the club deems acceptable for any of its players, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). Philadelphia is determined not to give players away for salary relief, and is willing to wait to deal until the offseason, Rosenthal adds. Rival executives counter that the Phils’ asking price is too high given the age and cost of the players it controls, Rosenthal adds in another tweet. (It is worth noting, of course, that several Phillies are very plausible August trade candidates.)
  • Dodgers GM Ned Colletti discussed his team’s situation heading to the deadline, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports (all links to Twitter). He made clear that he was not interested in moving any of the club’s three best prospects: “We’re not in the market to trade any of the three, period,” said Colletti. “There’s been no player discussed that warrants two of the three.” The GM also indicated that he does not expect to deal Matt Kemp, noting that “no one’s ever heard me say we’re shopping Matt Kemp … that’s all in another world.” Though the market was proving difficult to crack, Colletti said he has concentrated on adding arms.
  • Looking for infield help in the wake of Ryan Zimmerman‘s hamstring injury, the Nationals have considered Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians and Daniel Murphy of the Mets, at least internally, tweets Rosenthal. That does not mean that a deal is close on either player (or, presumably, that discussions have even taken place).

Quick Hits: Dodgers, Sox, Phils, Yanks, Indians, Cards

Let’s catch up on some recent news and rumors as the trade deadline nears …

  • The Dodgers have not declined to consider dealing top prospects Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, and Julio Urias except in cases of pure rentals, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Things remain “very fluid,” says Shaikin.
  • There has been no contact recently between the Red Sox and Phillies regarding either Cole Hamels or Cliff Lee, reports Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald (via Twitter). Philadelphia is said to have had at least some discussions in the past with Boston regarding starting pitching.
  • The Yankees still have “more work to do” in shaping the roster before the trade deadline, GM Brian Cashman tells MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. Of course, New York seems to have a broad shopping list that could include additions to the rotation and several spots in the lineup card.
  • Indians GM Chris Antonetti says that dealing away Justin Masterson does not mean that the club is giving up on 2014, as Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer tweets“We’re looking to add big league players if we can do it,” said Antonetti. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes on Twitter, the acquisition of James Ramsey provides the club with minor league depth that could facilitate another deal if the club is indeed interested in reshuffling its roster rather than selling, per se.
  • The Cardinals were never close to dealing away top prospect Oscar Taveras, GM John Mozeliak tells Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Indeed, Mozeliak says that speculation of a deal involving Taveras was actually amusing to him. St. Louis is still open to another deal after adding Masterson, says MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch (Twitter link), but Mozeliak left her with the impression that another move was not terribly likely.

Latest On Middle Infield Market

With starter Justin Masterson being moved today, eyes have understandably shifted to another Indians veteran who is set to hit the open market after the season: shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. While it remains uncertain whether or not he will be moved, here’s the latest on possible suitors for him and other middle infielders:

  • The Giants are still weighing second base options like Gordon Beckham, Emilio Bonifacio, and Cabrera, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.
  • The Indians have discussed Cabrera with the Blue Jays and Giants “this week,” tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, who hastens to add that he does not know whether talks are still alive with those clubs. Toronto has in fact “emerged as a possibility” on Cabrera, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
  • The Blue Jays are expected to hold off on adding to their slate of position players, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Instead, Toronto will focus on pitching. (Then again, the club has reportedly shifted back and forth between those broad signposts for weeks, if not longer.)


Chances Of Lackey Trade Are “Very Good”

3:00pm: The Indians are indeed interested in Lackey, tweets Rosenthal. Two teams that aren’t in play, he adds, are the Angels and Brewers.

12:01pm: There’s now a “very good chance” that the Red Sox will trade John Lackey as well as Jon Lester, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter). Lackey has been known to be available for days, but there had also been speculation that Boston could work out some form of extension with the right-hander.

Lackey’s five-year, $82.5MM contract with the Red Sox contained a clause that gave Boston a 2015 club option at the league minimum in the event that he missed significant time with an elbow injury. A torn ulnar collateral ligament that required Tommy John surgery triggered that clause, making Lackey a highly appealing trade chip even to teams with the most modest of payrolls.

Lackey will likely want an extension regardless of where he ends up, Rosenthal adds (Twitter links), but that’s not necessarily an unappealing concept for teams in search of a starter that can be controlled beyond 2014. Rosenthal lists the Indians and Marlins as two such clubs.

The Dodgers and Royals have shown interest in Lackey already, and reports yesterday indicated that the Marlins may prefer Lackey to Lester, as the asking price could be lesser. However, the asking price on Lackey isn’t exactly tame, as ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported yesterday that Boston wants an established big league starter in return (presumably, one with team control beyond 2015). Indeed, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald tweets, the BoSox aren’t likely to move both Lackey and Lester without getting starting pitching in return.

In 326 2/3 innings dating back to last season, Lackey has reestablished himself as a solid big league starter. He’s posted a 3.55 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9, averaging nearly 6 2/3 innings per outing.


Alex Rios Trade Talks Gaining Traction

2:03pm: Trade talks for Rios are “gaining traction” in several places, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

8:04am: The Rangers are willing to eat some of the remaining salary on Alex Rios‘ deal, but talks could still go down to the wire, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Rosenthal hears that interest from several Rios suitors — including the Indians, Giants, Reds and Royals — has waned of late.

At least four teams were said to be in on Rios over the weekend, but there’s been little chatter regarding the right fielder since that time. The 33-year-old is batting a strong .305/.334/.430 this season, but his power has declined in 2014. Rios has just four homers on the season after belting 18 last year and 25 in 2012. He’s owed roughly $4.23MM of his $12.5MM salary for the remainder of the 2014 season, plus a $1MM buyout on a $13.5MM option for the 2015 campaign.

The Rangers have already dealt Jason Frasor to the Royals and Joakim Soria to the Tigers, and given Rios’ contractual situation, he’s a logical trade chip as well. However, the Rangers seem unwilling to listen to offers on Adrian Beltre and Yu Darvish — both of whom they’re hoping will contribute to a contending club in 2015 once their roster is back to full health.


Cardinals Acquire Justin Masterson

The Cardinals have bolstered their starting rotation depth by acquiring Justin Masterson from the Indians in exchange for top outfield prospect James Ramsey. Both teams have officially announced the deal. Right-hander Michael Wacha has been moved to the 60-day DL to make room on the Cardinals’ 40-man roster.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians

Masterson, 29, is currently on the disabled list (he’s set to be activated this weekend) and in the midst of a down season as he heads into free agency. He’s earning $9.7625MM this season, of which roughly $3.3MM remains.

Masterson looked the part of a top-of-the-rotation starter in 2013, posting a 3.45 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 58.5 percent ground-ball rate in 193 innings. He’s battled a knee issue for most of this season, which could very likely have contributed to his 5.51 ERA and bloated walk rate (5.1 BB/9).

Masterson’s fastball velocity has declined significantly this season, falling from an average of 91.6 mph in 2013 to 89.1 in 2014. However, Masterson’s now former pitching coach Mickey Callaway said earlier in the month that he felt Masterson’s knee injury had altered his mechanics, which could explain the dip in velocity as well as the increase in walks.

The Cardinals have been on the lookout for rotation help for weeks now, having also been connected to Jake Peavy as well as aces David Price and Jon Lester. Masterson comes with upside, to be sure; FIP, xFIP and SIERA all feel his skill-set should have resulted in an ERA in the low 4.00s this season, and he’s had a good deal of past success. However, his injury and ineffective results will leave some Cardinals fans wondering if he’s truly an upgrade over internal options.

That remains to be seen, but the Cardinals felt that Masterson could bolster their starting  pitching in light of Michael Wacha‘s injury and the struggles of Shelby Miller. While Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn are reliable arms atop the rotation, Joe Kelly has been injured for most of the season, and Carlos Martinez would shatter last season’s innings total were he to remain in the rotation over the final two months (to say nothing of the postseason).

As for the Indians, they’ll receive Ramsey, a 2012 first-round pick that ranked seventh among Cardinals prospects on Baseball America’s midseason list and ranked sixth according to Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. The 24-year-old is hitting .300/.389/.527 with 13 homers in 281 Double-A plate appearances this season. Callis and Mayo note that Ramsey has the speed to play center field (though he’s not a huge threat on the bases) and the arm to play right field if a change is needed. He draws a fair amount of walks and has shown more power than some anticipated coming out of college, the MLB.com duo adds.

Peter Gammons first reported that Masterson was headed to St. Louis (on Twitter), and Joel Sherman of the New York Post was the first to report Ramsey’s involvement in the trade (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Latest On Cardinals’ Pitching Search

The Cardinals have been strongly linked to starting pitching, and the club is making its final assessments in advance of the trade deadline, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It appears that St. Louis is aiming for a fairly impactful arm to slot into its rotation.

In addition to Cole Hamels, the club is at least doing background work on Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett of the Phillies. (As Strauss’s colleague Derrick Goold recently reported, Philadelphia is watching the Cards’ Triple-A club.) Likewise, the Cards are performing diligence on Jon Lester of the Red Sox, Ian Kennedy of the Padres, Justin Masterson of the Indians, and David Price of the Rays — among others — according to Strauss. That does not necessarily mean that the club intends to make offers on any or all of these pitchers, of course, but at least seems to indicate the direction of GM John Mozeliak’s thinking.

Though the team’s offense has lagged at times, it seems likely at this point that the Cardinals will count on its in-house options to increase their output to put runs on the board. But with Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia out of action, and varying degrees of uncertainty surrounding Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez, a rotation addition seems quite likely.


Indians Ready To Move Cabrera, Masterson

TUESDAY: Industry perception is that the Indians are ready to move Masterson and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Cabrera makes for an interesting target, because unlike Masterson, he’s enjoying a relatively productive season. Cabrera is hitting .249/.309/.392 as of this writing, and while that’s hardly elite, park- and league-adjusted metrics like OPS+ (99) and wRC+ (98) peg him as just slightly below league average. That, of course, is relative to all hitters around the league, but middle infielders come with a lower offensive standard, making the switch-hitting Cabrera’s production more valuable.

Defensively speaking, Cabrera doesn’t offer much; he’s never posted a positive UZR in a sample of 100+ innings, and Defensive Runs Saved feels that he’s cost Cleveland 28 runs over the past three seasons at short. However, he’s graded out better in his career at second base, albeit in a much smaller sample size (1341 innings compared to 6282 innings at short). Cabrera has about $3.44MM of this season’s $10MM salary remaining, and he is a free agent at season’s end.

MONDAY: Though he won’t be activated from the disabled list until this Friday, the Indians are “very willing” to trade Justin Masterson, sources tell Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Cleveland’s preference would be to obtain controllable starting pitching in return for their embattled right-hander.

Masterson has struggled for much of the 2014 season, posting a 5.51 ERA with 8.5 K/9, 5.1 BB/9 and a 58.5 percent ground-ball rate. More concerning, perhaps, is the stark decline in his fastball velocity; after averaging 91.6 mph on his heater in 2013 (and 91.9 mph in 2012), Masterson averaged just 89.1 mph before being placed on the disabled list with a knee injury. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway said before the All-Star break that he felt Masterson’s knee injury forced him to alter the way he landed coming off his delivery, which got his mechanics out of sync and could have been partially to blame for the velocity issues.

The 29-year-old is set to become a free agent at season’s end, and it seems unlikely that a team would surrender top talent to acquire a two-month rental that has struggled so greatly in 2014. As such (and this is my own speculation), Masterson might be more of an August trade candidate. If he can come back healthy and effective, scouts might be willing to overlook some of his early-season struggles (to an extent).

Masterson is earning $9.7625MM this season after avoiding arbitration for the final time this offseason. Cleveland had interest in extending its now-former ace (Corey Kluber likely holds that distinction now), but even when Masterson himself suggested seemingly below-market two- and three-year deals at $17-18MM annually, the Indians didn’t bite. Of course, at this point, that looks like it could have been a shrewd move on Cleveland’s behalf.


AL East Rumors: Lackey, Blue Jays, Masterson

The Red Sox are willing to move one or both of John Lackey and Jon Lester, depending on the returns, sources tell WEEI’s Alex Speier. However, while the club is willing to move Lester within the division because he is a free agent at season’s end, they’re less inclined to move Lackey within the division, as he is controlled through 2015.

Here’s more on Lackey and the AL East…

  • In a second piece, Speier writes that it will be difficult for the Sox to move Lackey, though, as he’s expressed an understandable hesitance to pitch at the league minimum next year, and it would leave the Red Sox with little to no stability in their rotation. Speier suggests a one-year, $16.5MM extension (the AAV of Lackey’s current deal, prior to his league-minimum option kicking in), which could feel fair to both clubs. Essentially, it would amount to a two-year, $17MM deal, of course.
  • A trade of Lester could impact Lackey’s willingness to return to the Red Sox, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Lackey and Lester are close, and Rosenthal suggests that Lackey may not want to sign an extension or play for $500K next year if Lester is gone.
  • Yesterday’s acquisition of Danny Valencia may prove to be the biggest move that GM Alex Anthopoulos makes prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, writes Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star. The Blue Jays are getting contributions from two of their biggest trade chips — Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman — and the platoon of Steven Tolleson and Munenori Kawasaki has hit well to this point. Anthopoulos is still looking for a right-handed platoon partner for Adam Lind, but Nolan Reimold could fill that void. It seems to me that it’s a stretch to count on that many question marks, but Kennedy speculates that the team’s payroll limitations may be more significant than Anthopoulos has admitted to the public. Kennedy runs down the pros and cons of some speculative Jays targets.
  • While Justin Masterson is similar to Yankees acquisitions Brandon McCarthy and Chase Headley — all are formerly productive players with sizable salaries and diminished production in 2014 — the Yanks aren’t interested in acquiring him, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman points out that teams could be more open to acquiring Masterson in August if he clears waivers and begins pitching better following a DL stint, but the Indians, who are still in the Wild Card hunt, may just hang onto him then. Cleveland is “very willing” to move Masterson, who has reportedly drawn trade interest from other clubs.

AL Central Rumors: Miller, Gomes, Danks, Sox, Indians, Twins

The Royals are interested in Andrew Miller but aren’t currently pursuing Jonny Gomes, Major League sources tell Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Multiple reports have previously connected the Royals to Gomes, but it appears their interest has waned for the time being. Miller, of course, is being pursued by many teams due to his dominant numbers and relatively inexpensive salary. He’ll be a free agent at season’s end but could alter the composition of a bullpen and be a vital postseason piece. Miller tells Bradford that if he’s traded, he’ll harbor no hard feelings toward an organization with which he has “loved” his time. “I sincerely hope it doesn’€™t come to an end in the next couple of days, but if it does it won’€™t spoil it for me,” said Miller. “If it does I’€™m certainly not going to burn a bridge on the way out of town.” Earlier this morning, K.C. was also linked to John Lackey.

Here’s more from the AL Central…

  • Despite reported interest from the Yankees, the White Sox might have a difficult time moving John Danks, a source tells Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. “Anybody who throws 200 innings in the big leagues is worth his weight in gold,” the source said. “But I don’t think his weight is worth $30 million worth of gold.” Van Schouwen’s source feels that the Sox would let Danks go if he were to be claimed on waivers next month in order to free themselves of his remaining salary obligations.
  • As for Chicago’s other tradeable pieces, Van Schouwen notes that Adam Dunn, Gordon Beckham, Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo have limited markets due to contractual obligations (Dunn) or poor performance (the others). Alexei Ramirez would fetch a nice return, but the ChiSox don’t have an in-house replacement for the 32-year-old.
  • Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer looks at the Indians‘ current situation and feels that the team could sell some veterans without hurting their chances in the Wild Card hunt. Justin Masterson has underperformed, and Asdrubal Cabrera has been decent at best, but both have drawn trade interest, Hoynes reports. He suggests calling Oakland and San Francisco about Cabrera to peddle him as a second base option. Ultimately, the Indians could benefit from relying more on names like Jose Ramirez, Danny Salazar and Zach McAllister than their declining stars, Hoynes writes.
  • Glen Perkins made no effort to hide his feelings on whether or not the Twins should extend Kurt Suzuki when asked by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press over the weekend: “That would be the ideal. I think everyone else would agree. Not even just pitchers. He’s fit in this clubhouse great, too, with everybody.” GM Terry Ryan told Berardino that he’s been happy with Suzuki’s contributions, though he acknowledged that Suzuki rates poorly in terms of pitch-framing. Berardino noted that the Orioles, Blue Jays and Giants had scouts in attendance at Twins games over the weekend.
  • In more Twins news, Ryan is sending assistant GM Rob Antony on the team’s current road trip to Kansas City and Chicago while he settles in with VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff and special adviser Wayne Krivsky to work out deadline deals, writes La Valle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Ryan acknowledged the team’s position as sellers, telling Neal: “As long as it stops in the near future, then it is worthwhile. … This isn’t what anyone signed up to do. Nobody wants to watch a club get into late July and be in a position where you don’t have a chance.” Neal lists several Twins trade candidates, including Suzuki, Josh Willingham, Brian Duensing and Casey Fien.