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Cleveland Indians Rumors
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- Indians catcher Brett Hayes has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via Twitter). Hayes was designated for assignment after Yan Gomes was activated from the disabled list, and he could have elected free agency rather than heading back to Triple-A.
- The Giants have outrighted reliever Erik Cordier after he cleared waivers, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News tweets. Cordier, 29, allowed just one earned run and struck out nine (versus two walks) in six MLB innings last year, but has yet to receive another MLB opportunity. The fireballing righty will return to Triple-A, where he carries a 1.50 ERA over 12 innings on the back of twenty strikeouts against eight walks. Cordier will have an opportunity to reject the assignment in preference for free agency.
- Third baseman Deibinson Romero has received his release from the Pirates to pursue an opportunity in Korea, as had been expected. The 28-year-old has been tearing up Triple-A thus far, and will now look to provide the same blend of power and patience to the KBO’s Doosan Bears.
Here are today’s minor transactions from around the league…
- The Indians announced today that catcher Brett Hayes has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Columbus. However, Hayes has been previously outrighted and therefore has the ability to reject the assignment in favor of free agency. The 31-year-old picked up 36 plate appearances while Yan Gomes was on the disabled list and batted .156/.229/.438 with three homers. Hayes has decent pop for a catcher — career .154 ISO — and has caught 25 percent of baserunners that have attempted to steal against him in parts of seven big league seasons. A lifetime .205/.250/.359 hitter in 464 plate appearances, Hayes was designated for assignment Sunday when Gomes was activated from the DL.
- Former Rockies outfielder Cole Garner has agreed to a minor league deal with the Blue Jays and will report to Double-A New Hampshire, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (Twitter link). The 30-year-old Garner hasn’t appeared in the Majors since 2011 — his lone taste of the big leagues — but he was hitting .342/.392/.584 in 166 plate appearances in the Mexican League this season. Garner, who once ranked as Colorado’s No. 22 prospect, per Baseball America, has batted .284/.343/.480 in more than 1300 career PAs between Triple-A and the Mexican League.
- With Hayes’ outright, there are now eight players in DFA limbo (as shown in MLBTR’s DFA Tracker): Ryan Lavarnway, Travis Ishikawa, Radhames Liz, Carlos Peguero, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Todd Redmond, Phil Coke and Erik Cordier.
As Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer outlined last week, the Indians had to choose between Hayes and Roberto Perez in order to make room for Gomes. Neither has hit for much in terms of average, but Hayes has shown more power in a smaller sample, whereas Perez has shown more in terms of on-base skills, walking 20 times in 104 plate appearances.
Hayes, 31, appeared in 14 games for the Indians this season. In a small sample size of 36 games, Hayes slashed .156/.229/.438 and hit three home runs. Over parts of seven big league seasons with the Marlins, Royals, and Indians, Hayes owns a lifetime .205/.250/.359 slash line. He has fared better over the years at the Triple-A level, hitting .253/.294/.420, also over a seven season period.
Injured catcher Yan Gomes will be activated from the disabled list and start just his sixth game of the season for the Indians on Sunday, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A sprained medial collateral ligament in Gomes’ right knee caused him to miss roughly six weeks of action, and the loss of one of the game’s most valuable (and underrated) catchers has likely contributed to Cleveland’s slow start, to an extent. With Gomes nearing activation, Hoynes notes that one of Roberto Perez or Brett Hayes will have to go to make room. Neither has hit for much in terms of average, but Hayes has shown more power in a smaller sample, whereas Perez has shown more in terms of on-base skills, walking at a surprising 17.5 percent clip in 97 plate appearances. Manager Terry Francona feels the team has been fortunate to have Perez and Hayes fill in. “They haven’t hit for average, but each have hit three homers and done a pretty good job behind the plate,” said Francona. The 26-year-old Perez has options remaining, whereas Hayes does not and would have to clear waivers before he could be sent back to the minors.
A bit more from Cleveland…
- Within the linked piece above, Hoynes notes that T.J. House has been activated from the disabled list and optioned to Triple-A, leaving Shaun Marcum as the owner of the No. 5 spot in Cleveland’s rotation. House has struggled nearly all season, and he has an option remaining. Marcum does not. “The reality of it was who should we get rid of?” Francona asked rhetorically. “Would it have been fair to say to Shaun Marcum, “Hey, man, thanks for the seven dazzling innings.'” Marcum made his first Major League start since 2013 earlier this week and fired 6 2/3 innings with just two runs allowed on four hits and no walks with six strikeouts.
- In a separate article from earlier this week, Hoynes looks at how David Murphy has seemingly gone from expendable trade chip to indispensable asset. When the Indians acquired Brandon Moss this offseason, it created a logjam in the outfield with Moss, Murphy and Nick Swisher all appearing to cut into each others’ roles. However, Murphy has been one of the team’s most consistent bats against right-handed pitching this season after struggling in 2014, and he’s playing better defense this season as well.
Longtime MLB veteran Bruce Chen joins the show to talk about his decision to bring an end to a distinguished career after throwing more than 1,500 big league innings over 17 seasons. Though he ended his career with the Indians, Chen saw action with eleven big league teams — most prominently, the Royals, Orioles, and Braves. The consummate crafty lefty, Chen has a fascinating story both personally and as a ballplayer.
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Chen struggled through 6 1/3 innings in two starts this year for Cleveland, permitting nine earned runs. He struck out four and walked one batter, but gave up 17 total hits — including three long balls.
Of course, Chen has long provided plenty of innings and flexibility to 11 total MLB clubs. The wily southpaw never relied much on velocity, working in the mid-80s in recent seasons. But that didn’t stop him from compiling over 1,500 innings in the majors.
All said, the Panamanian native compiled a 4.62 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 over 17 big league campaigns. Chen broke into the big leagues with the Braves at age 21. Atlanta signed him as an amateur way back in 1993.
Chen is, perhaps, most associated with the Royals, with whom he spent six seasons. His time in K.C. represented something of a late-career renaissance, as he compiled 5.6 rWAR in that span (in spite of a rough final campaign).
The Orioles arguably enjoyed Chen’s most productive overall campaign in 2005, when he racked up a career-high 197 1/3 frames while working to a 3.83 ERA. He ultimately spent three years with Baltimore, with his 343 2/3 innings with the O’s representing the second-most he logged with any single team.
Be sure to give a read to Chen’s Twitter timeline to read through his classy tip of the cap to the fans and teams he played for. MLBTR joins those around the game congratulating Chen on his career and wishing him luck in his future endeavors.
Veteran starter Randy Wolf, who’s with the Blue Jays‘ Triple-A team in Buffalo, is grateful merely that the Jays gave him a chance, John Lott of the National Post writes. The 38-year-old Wolf offers an unusually candid look at the challenges a veteran can face near the end of his career. Wolf is a 15-year veteran and pitched for the Marlins just last season, but he says he had trouble even getting teams to take him seriously last offseason. “Teams would not even watch me throw,” says Wolf. “I had one team that agreed to watch me throw and they didn’t even show up.” Wolf has a 1.10 ERA in 41 innings with Buffalo so far, although with 5.7 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9. He says he’s just enjoying pitching, and not worrying about whether the Jays decide to call him up to the Majors. Here’s more from the American League.
- Shaun Marcum will start for the Indians on Wednesday in place of the recently-DFA’ed Bruce Chen, Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. That will require the Indians to give Marcum a spot on both their 40-man and 25-man rosters. The 33-year-old Marcum has posted a 1.36 ERA in 33 innings for Triple-A Columbus, although with a modest 6.0 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. He pitched five innings for the Indians earlier this season before they designated him for assignment in mid-April.
- The Astros are “at least going to have a conversation” about each of the top players available on this summer’s trade market, but they don’t plan to make a big move quite yet, GM Jeff Luhnow tells MLB Network Radio’s Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden (audio link). Luhnow adds that he feels the Astros’ collection of prospects makes the team a viable trade partner for organizations looking to trade star veterans. In the meantime, though, the Astros want to spend more time evaluating their own players, and particularly their starting pitchers behind Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh.
The 37-year-old Chen made two starts for the Indians, allowing nine runs (including three homers) while striking out four and walking one. He also posted a 7.45 ERA last season with the Royals. Chen did, however, perform well earlier this season in five starts for Columbus, so (assuming he clears waivers, which seems likely) he shouldn’t have much trouble finding a home on a Triple-A club somewhere. Chen has appeared with the Braves, Phillies, Mets, Expos, Reds, Astros, Red Sox, Orioles, Rangers, Royals and Indians in an MLB career that has now spanned 17 seasons.
Newly promoted Astros pitcher Lance McCullers, Jr. throws in the upper 90s with an outstanding breaking ball, Vince Lara-Cinisomo writes in a scouting report for Baseball America. The biggest difference between this season and the previous three years of his pro career has been that his control has taken a leap forward, from 5.2 BB/9 in 2014 to 3.4 BB/9 in 29 innings this season. Lara-Cinosomo suggests that one possibility is that the Astros promoted McCullers in order to showcase him as a possible trade piece for a top starting pitcher like Cole Hamels. Here’s more from the American League.
- Top Blue Jays prospect Daniel Norris is now back in Buffalo after a stint in the big leagues in which he held his own but averaged less than five innings per start. GM Alex Anthopoulos says the team wants Norris to work on improving that number, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi writes. “[T]he issue here was the consistency of trying to go deep into games and making sure we were going to have that to not tax the bullpen,” says Anthopoulos. “When he shows the consistency down there – it’s only been two games and what that number is, three, four, five, I’m not sure – and when we have a need and feel he’s throwing the ball well down there, he’ll be back.“
- The Indians‘ season hasn’t gone well, but that doesn’t mean a fire sale is imminent, Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. Much of their core consists of young-ish players signed to long-term deals (like Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco), so the Indians probably wouldn’t trade them. And some of their other veterans (like Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher) simply haven’t played well and therefore don’t have much value right now.
The White Sox yesterday made the decision to option second baseman Micah Johnson to Triple-A, recalling fellow infielder Carlos Sanchez to fill his spot on the roster and on the diamond. The 22-year-old Sanchez hit .344/.368/.466 in 137 plate appearances at Triple-A this season, whereas Johnson slashed a mere .270/.333/.297 in the Majors. Johnson is the more highly regarded prospect of the two, but as MLB.com’s Scott Merkin writes, GM Rick Hahn said he considers the demotion a “minor setback on the path to what we believe will be a successful big league career.” Second base has been one of many weak spots for the White Sox this season — a subject that Jeff Todd and I discussed in running through a surprising AL Central division on the latest MLBTR Podcast.
Here’s more from the AL Central…
- Thoughts and prayers go out to Indians utility man Mike Aviles who, as Cleveland.com’s Zack Meisel writes, learned last week that his four-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with leukemia. Manager Terry Francona said that it’s possible Aviles will join the team this weekend. However, he could also be placed on the restricted list, thereby allowing him to take as much time as he needs to be with his family. That move would allow the club to add another player to the 25-man roster in Aviles’ place. We at MLBTR wish Aviles and his family the best in an unfathomably difficult time.
- In a second article, Meisel breaks down the Indians‘ shortstop situation, noting that the team is in a difficult place. Cleveland had hoped that the issue of when to promote top prospect Francisco Lindor would be a challenge due to the strong play of Jose Ramirez. Instead, however, it’s a challenge because Ramirez is struggling so badly. As Meisel notes, the Indians almost certainly would like to keep Lindor in Triple-A until mid-to-late June in order to minimize the chance of him achieving Super Two status. However, the present roster is lacking alternatives. Aviles could replace him once he is ready to rejoin the roster, but the other primary alternative, Zach Walters has struggled quite a bit at the plate since being acquired by Cleveland.
- Tigers catcher Alex Avila is opting not to undergo surgery to repair the knee injury that has landed him on the disabled list, reports Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. According to Avila, multiple doctors suggested that he could potentially use a rest and rehab program to avoid surgery and get back on the field sooner than the expected 4-6 weeks he’d have missed with arthroscopic surgery. Avila is on the disabled list with a “loose body” in his knee, but doctors now believe that the abnormality in his knee is not actually loose. “They’re not convinced that it’s a loose body,” said manager Brad Ausmus. “There’s something in there, but they’re not convinced that it’s loose.” Avila is due to hit free agency following the 2015 season.