Cleveland Indians Rumors

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

Heyman’s Latest: Castro, Shapiro, Davis, Anderson, Brewers, Phils

Within his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that displaced Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has joined Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez as struggling former stars that have cleared waivers. (The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo first reported that Ramirez and Sandoval cleared waivers.) The Cubs had a few trade discussions pertaining to Castro prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline, per Heyman, and they’ll likely revisit trade talks this winter. As for Sandoval, Heyman hears that there are not active discussions at the moment, although one can easily imagine new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski exploring ways to shed that sizable commitment this offseason.

Some more highlights from Heyman’s latest column…

  • Indians president Mark Shapiro has been given permission to meet with the Blue Jays about their opening, per the report. The veteran Cleveland executive is “believed” to sit atop Toronto’s wish list, and Heyman says there’s an increasing expectation that he’ll end up moving over to the Jays.
  • Chris Davis is in line for a significant payday this offseason, but the Orioles aren’t likely to be the ones writing the check. Heyman hears that two years ago, following Davis’ brilliant 53-homer campaign, agent Scott Boras was eyeing Joey Votto’s 10-year, $225MM contract as a comp. Granted, Davis’ reduced production since that time has almost certainly lowered the asking price, but I personally agree with the assessment of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes in his latest Free Agent Power Rankings: Davis is in line for a nine-figure contract, which seems beyond Baltimore’s traditional comfort levels.
  • Though some were surprised to see Brett Anderson land a $10MM guarantee from the Dodgers due to his injury history, Heyman hears that the Dodgers may be considering an even more surprising move: extending a qualifying offer to the injury-prone hurler. Anderson, in my eyes, would be a risky candidate for such an offer, but there’s reason enough that the Dodgers could make that call. For one, the team can afford a $16MM investment in an injury-prone pitcher, and Anderson’s worth close to that kind of cash when healthy. Secondly, Anderson’s coming off one of the lone healthy seasons of his career and may see this as his best chance to cash in on a multi-year deal. He could see the only downside as another one-year deal worth $10MM+, meaning he’d be risking around $6MM for a chance at quite a bit more.
  • The Brewers are expected to take “well into next month” in their search for a new general manager and are interested in pursuing non-traditional candidates. We’ve heard several possibilities batted around, and Heyman says he’s heard at least some chatter about Athletics assistant GM Dan Kantrovitz and Red Sox special assistant Jerry Dipoto.
  • While the Phillies could have their own front office changes to make, Heyman says it’s still possible that Ruben Amaro Jr. could not only stay in the organization in some capacity, but keep the GM chair.
  • In a separate piece, Heyman also takes an interesting look at the thirty best deals made over the last year. There’s certainly a good case to be made for his top choice: the Blue Jays’ acquisition of Josh Donaldson.

AL Notes: Rays, Kaminsky, Washington, Park

Marc Topkin runs through the Rays roster to identify six players who have made the most of opportunities to provide surprising value this year in Tampa Bay. Logan Forsythe, added via trade before the 2014 campaign, has arguably been the best of them, putting up a .279/.360/.434 slash with 14 home runs and nine steals while playing multiple infield positions. Forsythe has lined himself up for a nice raise on his $1.1MM arb salary from this season. And a player added just before this season, righty Erasmo Ramirez, has somewhat quietly compiled 123 innings of 3.66 ERA pitching on the year. Ramirez won’t even reach arb eligibility until 2017, making him a nice asset for the future.

Here are a few more notes from around the American League:

  • When the Indians managed to pry young lefty Rob Kaminsky from the Cardinals in the Brandon Moss deal, reactions were overwhelmingly positive for Cleveland. Indians GM Chris Antonetti tells Jim Ingraham of Baseball America that he likes Kaminsky’s fastball life, groundball tendencies, command of the zone, and overall pitch mix. Cleveland is not concerned about Kaminsky’s light frame, and intends to give him every chance to reach the big leagues as a starter. The 20-year-old southpaw has pitched to a 2.24 ERA in 104 1/3 innings at the High-A level on the season.
  • The Athletics have named Ron Washington as the team’s third base coach to replace Mike Gallego, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. It was somewhat curious to see the move made now, but the team has struggled with baserunning issues of late and Washington will now have a chance to coach in uniform during games. (He had been prohibited from doing so because of rules limiting the number of uniformed staff.) Nothing more should be read into the decision, writes Slusser, as manager Bob Melvin is still expected to be locked up to a new deal after the season.
  • The Twins have scouted Korean slugger Byung-ho Park “a lot” ever since he was a sixteen-year-old, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. But the increasingly interesting first baseman still seems likely to land elsewhere if he’s posted this winter, Wolfson adds.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Utley, Angels, Zobrist, Zimmermann, Giants, Execs

In his latest notes column for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal looks at the failed attempt to acquire Chase Utley made by both the Angels and Cubs. Anaheim “blew it” by not adding Utley, opines Rosenthal, as the Halos had more playing time to offer than the Dodgers but didn’t pull the trigger on a deal despite only having acquired “complementary hitters” in July. (That seems harsh, as there’s no guarantee that the current iteration of Utley is anything more than a complementary piece himself.) As for the Cubs, they initially showed interest while Utley was still hurt, but Utley wasn’t comfortable being traded while on a rehab assignment, says Rosenthal, so the Phils waited to put him through waivers. By the time he returned, Howie Kendrick had been hurt in L.A., creating a match with the Dodgers.

Some more highlights from the column…

  • As others have noted, the Angels‘ GM opening is a tough sell to prospective candidates because Arte Moreno is more involved than the average owner, and Mike Scioscia has more power than the average manager. One rival general manager described the Angels’ GM role to Rosenthal as such: “You take all of the beatings (from Moreno) and you’ve got no power (due to Scioscia).” Jerry Dipoto resigned from his post this summer due to reported clashes with Scioscia.
  • The Blue Jays tried to trade for Ben Zobrist, but the Athletics‘ asking price was Matt Boyd plus other pieces, Rosenthal hears, which was too steep for GM Alex Anthopoulos. Boyd was ultimately one of three pieces used to acquire David Price from the Tigers.
  • Rosenthal reports that the Giants are likely to pursue right-hander Jordan Zimmermann as they look to bulk up their rotation this offseason. However, he notes that the Wisconsin native may prefer to return to the Midwest. Zimmermann ranked eighth on the most recent edition of MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings, though he’s had a couple of rough starts since then.
  • The Giants may also consider attempting to unload the final year of Angel Pagan‘s contract this winter. Pagan is slated to earn $10MM next season in the final season of a four-year, $40MM contract after playing in just 167 games from 2013-14 and struggling at the plate in 102 games to this point in 2015. San Francisco could use Gregor Blanco in center field in the event that they’re able to move Pagan.
  • The recent trend of teams promoting an assistant GM to GM and a current GM to president (as the White Sox and Giants have done) could continue this offseason as teams try to prevent their top AGMs from departing for GM vacancies elsewhere, Rosenthal writes. The Rangers could promote Thad Levine to GM (and presumably elevate Jon Daniels), for instance, and the Cardinals could promote Mike Girsch (presumably promoting GM John Mozeliak as well). And, should Mark Shapiro end up with the Blue Jays, the Indians could bump Mike Chernoff to GM and make Chris Antonetti president (Cleveland previously did his by moving Shapiro from GM to president and Antonetti from AGM to GM). Levine, Girsch and Chernoff could all attract interest from other teams this winter.


Al Notes: Fiers, Santana, Francona, Shapiro

Astros July trade acquisition Mike Fiers tossed a no hitter against the Dodgers last night. The 134 pitch performance was a microcosm of the Astros season, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Fiers, 30, was the second piece in the Carlos Gomez trade. He was supposed to provide a little depth in the rotation – not outmatch a potent Dodgers lineup. The Astros are also doing more than they ever were supposed to – they currently have a 3.5 game lead in the AL West with a 67-56 record. Of course, Fiers’ no hitter isn’t completely shocking. He’s posted a solid 3.63 ERA with 9.13 K/9 and 3.25 BB/9. The same can be said of the Astros success. The club obviously entered the season with a few good starting pitchers, a powerful offense, and a revamped bullpen.

Here are a few more notes out of Cleveland:

  • The Indians may want to consider trading first baseman Carlos Santana this offseason, opines Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.Santana, 29, used to offer more utility by playing catcher, third, and first. Now he’s locked into the cold corner due to concussion issues and shoddy defense. More importantly, his offensive performance is at a career worst. He’s been particularly bad from the right side which is peculiar given his strong career splits. Pluto lists several internal replacements. None are likely to approach Santana’s production.
  • Also per Pluto, rumors that Mark Shapiro is under consideration to become the next Blue Jays CEO won’t affect the roles of GM Mark Antonetti or manager Terry Francona. While Shapiro advises on baseball decisions, Antonetti has full authority in that sphere. Francona originally joined the Indians in part due to Shapiro, but he also has a strong relationship with Antonetti. He can opt out of his contract if either executive is fired, but it’s not clear if that extends to one of them leaving by choice. Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group echoes Pluto’s sentiments. He names a few internal candidates who could be promoted to club president, but also mentions CEO and owner Paul Dolan as a likely candidate.

AL Central Notes: Zobrist, Medlen, Shapiro, Dombrowski, Norris

Recently-acquired Royals utilityman extraordinaire Ben Zobrist says that he’s very much open to a return to Kansas City, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports“Certainly, this had been one of the teams I liked the look of,” he said. “And now, since I’ve been here, it’s a place I want to stay longer. Being here has certainly done nothing but make this [team] go up on my list.” Of course, the versatile and still-productive 34-year-old figures to be as widely pursued on the winter’s free agent market as he was at this year’s trade deadline. Zobrist was already playing well before the trade, but has slashed an outstanding .357/.446/.600 in his first 83 plate appearances with his new club.

Here’s more from Kansas City and the rest of the AL Central:

  • The Royals will hand the ball to Kris Medlen for his first start with the club on Monday, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. Medlen, 29, has returned nicely after a long layoff for multiple Tommy John surgeries, tossing 14 1/3 innings of 2.51 ERA ball with 14 strikeouts against five walks. His average fastball velocity is as good as ever. Medlen is owed just $5.5MM next year and can be controlled with a $10MM option ($1MM buyout) in 2017. So far, that’s looking like a nice risk for the Royals.
  • Indians president Mark Shapiro declined to comment on recent reports indicating that he could be a candidate to take over the Blue Jays‘ presidency, Zack Meisel of the Plain Dealer reports. The long-time Cleveland executive, still just 48 years old, could conceivably be enticed by the possibility of gaining “power and resources,” the Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes writes in an interesting piece.
  • There was a creeping sense of suspicion when he was not approached to discuss a new deal over the summer, former Tigers GM (and newly-minted Red Sox president of baseball operations) Dave Dombrowski tells MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (audio link). Dombrowski maintained, however, that he remains unaware what precisely led Detroit to release him from its contract when it did.
  • Just-added Tigers lefty Daniel Norris could end up missing the rest of the year with an oblique injury, Chris Iott of MLive.com reports. Manager Brad Ausmus says that Norris is likely to miss at least a month. The 22-year-old, added as the key piece of the David Price trade, figures to be a key piece of the Tigers rotation next year and for the foreseeable future. He recently joined the MLBTR Podcast to discuss that deal and his approach to the game.

Indians Acquire Michael Choice

The Indians have acquired outfielder Michael Choice from the Rangers, as T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com first reported on Twitter. Cleveland will send cash considerations to complete the deal, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets.

Choice, 25, was designated for assignment recently to clear space for the Rangers’ acquisition of Will Venable. Once a top-100 prospect, Choice has stumbled since heading to Texas in return for Craig Gentry before the 2014 season.

Given a chance at the big league level last year, Choice put up a .182/.250/.320 slash in 280 plate appearances. While he hit well at Triple-A that year, he’s managed only a .244/.309/.399 batting line this season at the highest level of the minors.


Blue Jays Interested In Indians’ Shapiro As Successor To Beeston

Indians president Mark Shapiro has “emerged as a strong candidate” to succeed retiring Blue Jays president/CEO Paul Beeston, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Blue Jays have, in fact, already reached out to Shapiro about the position, Rosenthal continues.

The 48-year-old Shapiro served as the Indians’ general manager for 10 seasons before a promotion to club president that saw longtime lieutenant Chris Antonetti promoted to the GM chair. As Rosenthal notes, Shapiro has overseen renovations at Cleveland’s Progressive Field while serving as president, which would have appeal to the Blue Jays, who are planning on some renovations at the Rogers Centre in the years to come.

Shapiro, or any other president, would have a say in the future of Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who, as Rosenthal reports, is signed through Oct. 31. Were Anthopoulos allowed to reach his contract’s expiration date, he’d be able to pursue various other GM openings around the league. While there’s been plenty written about Anthopoulos’ uncertain future over the past year, his team’s success since a number of high-profile acquisitions at this year’s non-waiver trade deadline would, on the surface, appear to have positioned him for a contract extension with Toronto. The Blue Jays are currently two games back from the Yankees in the AL East but are also positioned to make the postseason as a Wild Card team if they do not overtake New York in the standings. The Blue Jays are 21-9 in the second half of the season and 13-4 since Aug. 1. However, a new president could still prefer to bring in their own general manager to help guide the franchise.

Toronto’s search for a successor to Beeston has been ongoing for quite some time. Last offseason, the team reportedly showed interest in Orioles GM Dan Duquette, Twins GM Terry Ryan and White Sox president Kenny Williams to fill the role. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported earlier this week that the Blue Jays made a strong run at Dombrowski, and their interest pushed the Red Sox to give Dombrowski full decision-making authority.

Specific details of Shapiro’s contract aren’t clear, although if he’s under contract beyond the 2015 season, the Indians could be in for some form of compensation. Last winter, when talks with the Blue Jays were said to have gained traction, the two teams were reportedly discussed player compensation that would’ve gone from Toronto to Baltimore due to the fact that Duquette is signed through the 2018 season.


Quick Hits: GM Turnover, Williams, Zduriencik, Prospects

Baseball has experienced intense turnover in its front offices of late, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today notes in a column today, and there could be more to come. Nightengale cites Ruben Amaro Jr. of the Phillies, Jack Zduriencik of the Mariners, and Walt Jocketty of the Reds as candidates for dismissal. The frequency of change represents a “new state of the game,” argues Nightengale.

  • The Mariners could end up bringing in White Sox president Kenny Williams to head its front office, Nighengale reports. But Williams may also be in the running to become the new president of the Blue Jays. Reds special assistant Kevin Towers also increasingly seems to be an option for Seattle, Nightengale adds on Twitter.
  • Zduriencik says that he pays no heed to the rumor mill, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes. Though he’s aware that there is chatter that he could be vulnerable, the Mariners general manager explains that he can’t let that affect his work. “I’ve got eyes,” said the seven-year veteran GM. I can see what’s going on here. I know what has not worked and what should be working and isn’t. For me to focus on any outside distractions (is non-productive).” Zduriencik stressed that he still believes in the talent base he’s compiled, explaining: “I think when you start to piece it together, there are things we need to do going forward, but I do think that there are some really solid pieces there.”
  • Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs provides an overhauled, mid-season look at the game’s best prospects. He breaks down a series of different prospect classes. One of those is his list of the game’s premium pre-MLB players, which is made up of the 26 names who separated themselves from the pack. The usual suspects sit atop that list, but there are some quick-rising players as well, including shortstops Orlando Arcia (Brewers, #8), Franklin Barreto (Athletics, #14), and Trea Turner (Nationals, #15), outfielders Bradley Zimmer (Indians, #21) and Gleyber Torres (Cubs, #23), and Rays lefty Blake Snell, who shot all the way up to the 16th slot. McDaniel also lists the year’s newly-emerging prospects, the newly-professional crop of players added over the summer, and the impressive list of young players who no longer qualify as prospects.
  • Ben Badler of Baseball America takes a closer look at one such swiftly-rising prospect, Nationals outfielder Victor Robles. The 18-year-old drew the attention of the organization because of his quick-twitch athleticism and high energy, and the club’s $225K bonus has paid out amply so far. It’s a lengthy piece, but well worth a read for any prospect hounds or Nats fans.

Central Notes: Plouffe, Jackson, Indians, Brewers

Trevor Plouffe‘s agent (Nez Balelo at CAA) has been in Minnesota recently, but Plouffe and the Twins haven’t been discussing an extension, 1500ESPN’s Darren Wolfson tweets. Plouffe can become eligible for free agency following the 2017 season. Wolfson describes him as an extension candidate, and maybe he is, since the Twins are frequently loyal to their players. The Twins do have another potential long-term answer at third base in Miguel Sano, however, and Sano is younger and cheaper, as well as being an outstanding hitter. Trading Plouffe might ultimately make more sense. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.

  • The Twins also had interest in Edwin Jackson before Jackson signed with the Braves, Wolfson tweets. The Braves were prepared to offer a big-league deal, however, and the Twins apparently were not.
  • The Indians‘ contracts for Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher didn’t turn out well, but the team would have been in even worse shape had it extended Justin MastersonTerry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. In Spring Training in 2014, the Indians reportedly offered Masterson about $45MM over three years, which at the time looked like a lowball offer, given Masterson’s impending free agency and excellent 2013 season. Since then, though, Masterson has struggled in Cleveland, St. Louis and Boston, ultimately being designated for assignment by the Red Sox last week.
  • The Brewers‘ farm system looks significantly improved after last month’s trades and the June draft, Tom Haudricourt writes for Baseball America (subscription only). In trading Carlos Gomez, Mike Fiers, Gerardo Parra, Aramis Ramirez and Jonathan Broxton, the Brewers got a solid group of prospects that includes Brett Phillips, Domingo Santana and Zach Davies. Many of the players they acquired are in the high minors, too, which now-former Brewers GM Doug Melvin suggested might shorten the amount of time the team needed to rebuild. Davies, who is relatively small and isn’t a hard thrower, doesn’t fit the pitcher type the Brewers usually like, but Melvin says the team’s analytics department lobbied for the Brewers to acquire him in the Parra trade.

Front Office Notes: Dombrowski, Chernoff, Avila, Tigers

There’s been plenty of front office turnover this summer, with Dave Dombrowski’s departure from the Tigers’ front office, the beginning of Doug Melvin’s transition to an advisory role with the Brewers and the abrupt resignation of Angels GM Jerry Dipoto (who has since taken a temporary consulting position with the Red Sox).

Here’s the latest buzz pertaining to executives around the league…

  • The Nationals, Blue Jays and Mariners appear to be the most likely landing spots for Dombrowski, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The Blue Jays and Mariners were immediately speculated upon landing spots, as Toronto has long been on the hunt for a president to replace the retiring Paul Beeston, and Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik’s job security has been questioned in the wake of a disappointing season for the Mariners. The Nationals don’t have an immediate need and seem a somewhat curious fit, given the fact that the well-respected Mike Rizzo currently holds the president of baseball operations title in D.C. The combination of Rizzo and Dombrowski, though, would give Washington a pair of very accomplished baseball minds atop their decision-making pyramid, if the two were to work together.
  • “I’ve had a number of people tell me today they think [Indians assistant GM Mike] Chernoff will be the one to beat,” Peter Gammons replied to the MLB Network’s Chris Russo yesterday when asked who will be the new GM of the Brewers (video link, with Brewers talk beginning at about the 4:00 mark). Gammons also lists Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen as a possibility and notes that he believes Melvin could very well remain on board with the Brewers as a club president.
  • New Tigers GM Al Avila spoke at length with Tony Paul of the Detroit News about his new position. While Avila didn’t want to get too in-depth about the differences between him and his friend/predecessor, Dombrowski, he did tell Paul that the Tigers’ front office will take more of an analytical approach to roster construction. “One thing I will bring different is expanded analytics,” said Avila. “I will tell you that I feel that we have a ways to go to catch up with the industry. We have been making some strides, but we’ll fast-forward a little bit and add to that department. You’ll see a big difference there.” However, Avila also stressed the importance of maintaining a balance between traditional scouting and the statistical component of player analysis. As Paul notes, the presence of J.D. Martinez on the Tigers can be chalked up to traditional scouting, and Avila played a huge role in bringing Martinez to Detroit.
  • Lastly, the Tigers announced three more front office promotions earlier this week. Major League scout Dave Littlefield (the former GM of the Pirates) has been promoted to vice president of player development. Scott Reid has been bumped from special assistant to senior advisor, and Dick Egan is now a special assistant to the executive VP and general manager.