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Cleveland Indians Rumors
Former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire would like to manage in the Major Leagues again and has hired agent John Boggs to represent him, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Gardenhire told Rosenthal that he isn’t actively pursuing anything because he has too much respect for MLB’s current 30 managers to campaign for something specific, but he’ll listen “to just about anything.” Rosenthal speculates that the Marlins and Brewers may eventually be looking for new skippers, though he adds that Mike Redmond took some pressure off himself in Miami with a pair of convincing wins over the Phillies. As for the Brewers, Rosenthal hears that they won’t act on manager Ron Roenicke anytime soon.
A few notes from Gardenhire’s former division, where the Twins are off to a 6-9 start under new manager Paul Molitor…
- Questions on the Tigers‘ bullpen were the common theme throughout MLive.com’s Chris Iott’s latest Twitter Talk column. Iott fielded questions on Rafael Soriano, noting that he finds a signing doubtful, and he also noted that trading a prospect such as Dixon Machado seems unlikely to happen early in the season. Yesterday, MLBTR’s Jeff Todd looked at ways in which the Tigers could address the ‘pen, and 38 percent of MLBTR readers weighed in saying that Detroit needs to add a quality late-inning reliever ASAP.
- Joe Nathan‘s tenure with the Tigers just never clicked, Tom Gage writes for FOX Sports Detroit. Money does tend to complicate things, of course, and that was surely true in this case. Unfortunately, Nathan will never have a chance to atone for a sub-par 2014 on the hill in Detroit.
- MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian expects the Indians to deploy Jose Ramirez at shortstop for most, if not all of the season’s first half while Francisco Lindor develops, he writes in his latest Inbox column. Bastian points out that Lindor has gotten off to a slow start at Triple-A, which doesn’t help his case for a call-up, in spite of Ramirez’s offensive woes. Bastian also looks at the upcoming roster crunch when Nick Swisher will be activated from the DL. Cleveland plans to use Swisher in right field and at DH, but not at first base. The club already has a number of similar options on the roster in the form of David Murphy, Ryan Raburn and Jerry Sands. The latter of those three options strikes me as the likeliest to go, though Sands has hit well in his limited time with the club (thanks to being shielded from right-handed pitchers in a platoon role).
Righty Jason Frasor was offered a one-year deal by the Twins this winter but decided to go back to the Royals when Kansas City got involved, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. The 37-year-old also added an interesting take on the process of free agency: “When you become a free agent and you’re a 37-year-old middle reliever, there’s not as many teams that come calling as you would think or hope. But that’s all right. I just needed one team.”
- Veteran Tigers reliever Joe Nathan suffered a setback in a Triple-A rehab appearance today, as James Schmehl of MLive.com reports. Nathan came out after experiencing severe pain after the tenth pitch of his outing. Both Nathan and the club have stayed quiet this evening as to whether any more has been learned, but at a minimum it seems unlikely that he will join the team as quickly as had been expected.
- Cody Allen has struggled thus far, but the Indians are not contemplating a closer change, per Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer. “Cody is about as trustworthy and dependable as anyone we have,” said manager Terry Francona. The Cleveland pen has been poor by any standard thus far, and is not exactly teeming with alternatives. MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted that the team passed on an opportunity to upgrade there over the offseason, and it will be interesting to see whether that becomes an area to target if the Indians stay in contention over the summer.
Indians manager Terry Francona relates an entertaining story about contracts and signing bonuses that goes back two generations, via Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer. Francona’s father, former big-league outfielder Tito, was trying to get a better deal from the Tigers in 1958, telling team GM John McHale he needed more money because his wife was pregnant. “That’s not my problem,” McHale responded. The baby, of course, was Terry, and McHale was president of the Expos 22 years later when they picked him in the first round of the 1980 draft. Tito acted as Terry’s agent and negotiated a $100K bonus. He then called McHale. “Remember when my wife was pregnant and I wanted a raise,” he said. “Well, that baby is Terry and he just cost you $100,000!” Here’s more from the Central divisions.
- The Reds have reinstated starter Homer Bailey (elbow) from the disabled list and optioned reliever Pedro Villarreal to Triple-A Louisville, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. Bailey’s start against the Cardinals on Saturday will be his first since last August. Bailey pitched reasonably well in 2014 when he was available, and he’s in the second year of a $105MM contract, so the Reds will depend on him to be productive yet again.
- Cubs Triple-A infielder Chris Valaika is confident Kris Bryant will be successful in the big leagues, although he’s undoubtedly facing a new challenge, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat writes. “Everything’s escalated, the media presence doesn’t go away, and the game is crisper — it’s the big leagues for a reason,” says Valaika. “Those guys are the best of the best. They find a weakness and they exploit it until you close that hole. He will make adjustments, they will find a new one, and he will close it again.”
Here’s a look at today’s minor moves..
- The White Sox signed right-hander Euclides Leyer, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). The White Sox had Leyer in their system for five years before losing him to the Reds in this year’s Rule 5 Draft. In 34 appearances for the team’s Advanced-A team, Leyer pitched to a 4.53 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9.
- The Indians signed minor league pitcher Perci Garner, according to Eddy (link). Garner, 26, was a former second-round choice of the Phillies but was never able to produce consistently in their farm system.
While the season is still very young, the changes to Anthony Gose‘s swing are showing up in his results at the plate, and Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs wonders if his revamped mechanics will lead to a surprising offensive season from the 24-year-old speedster. Upon being traded to the Tigers, Gose and Detroit hitting coach Wally Joyner worked to lower the positioning of his hands prior to the swing, and Gose is also swinging with more of an upward plane. Sullivan also points out that Gose is doing a better job of keeping his weight back, and he provides GIF breakdowns of Gose’s former swing versus his new cut. It had become clear that the old version of Gose wasn’t ever going to hit much, Sullivan writes, and while the reworked swing may be little more than “a new way to fail,” he writes that Gose’s upside with the new mechanics is greater, and the team’s recent success with reclamation project J.D. Martinez lends further reason for optimism.
A few more notes from the AL Central…
- Shaun Marcum accepted his outright assignment to the Indians‘ Triple-A affiliate earlier today, writes MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, and the veteran knew at the time of the call-up that he’d likely only be on the roster for one day. “He knew coming in that it was going to be one [game],” manager Terry Francona told Bastian. “After he pitched so well, we were trying to figure out maybe a way to get around [designating him]. I think after talking through it, it’s not a fun thing to do, but I think it’s probably the right thing to do.” Marcum fired five innings of one-run ball Sunday for Cleveland, striking out four hitters against three walks (although two of the free passes were intentional). Those five frames marked his first big league work since 2013, and by accepting an outright to Columbus, Marcum will be able to serve as depth for the Indians again in the future should a need arise.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan again expressed disappointment when asked by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press about Ervin Santana‘s suspension. “People are going to test positive because kids are kids and men are men,” said Ryan. “…You shouldn’t make that mistake. … If they take something, they ought to know what it is. That’s all, regardless of where you bought it or if it came from a reputable drug store or nutrition store or wherever. They’ve been educated pretty well about this program, and they know they’re going to get tested. They ought to know what’s going in (their bodies).”
- The White Sox haven’t announced a starting pitcher for Sunday’s contest yet, but before South Side fans get excited, Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago reports that the nod will not be going to top prospect Carlos Rodon. Manager Robin Ventura has said someone on the active roster will make the start. While Hector Noesi has made just one outing, off-days have allowed the Sox the opportunity to skip him in the rotation, with Jose Quintana taking his spot. Of course, the fact that Noesi struggled badly in his lone start — six walks and four hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Twins — and may be skipped in the rotation suggests that his grasp on a rotation spot isn’t necessarily all that firm. For what it’s worth, Rodon whiffed nine hitters against two walks in five innings of two-run ball in his Triple-A debut this season.
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- Yankees farmhand Wilking Rodriguez, a right-handed pitcher, has been suspended for eighty games after testing positive for a PED (Furosemide). Rodriguez made two appearances last year for the Royals in the only major league action in his career. The 25-year-old has not yet appeared for the club’s Triple-A affiliate, though he did get a few frames in big league camp this spring.
- The Indians outrighted Shaun Marcum to Triple-A, the club announced. Marcum, a veteran righty, had one outing with Cleveland before losing his roster spot. He had a nice run of success in the bigs a few years back, but has dealt with injuries in recent seasons.
- Righty Kyle Davies has been outrighted by the Yankees, the club announced. The veteran returned to the big leagues after a long absence recently, but New York dropped him from the roster after just one outing.
- The Rangers have outrighted lefty Sam Freeman, as Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Tribune tweets. Freeman was designated by Texas not long after he was acquired from the Cardinals. It could be that the Rangers had this scenario in mind all along, as Freeman will now be on stand by to provide cheap and accessible depth if and when the need arises.
The Indians have announced a series of transactions, including the signing of righty Jhoulys Chacin to a minor league deal. Fellow right-hander Shaun Marcum was designated for assignment, while backstop Brett Hayes will take his roster spot.
Chacin, 27, was cut loose by the Rockies this spring in something of a surprise move. He struggled with shoulder issues last year, and injuries are the main concern given his effectiveness when healthy. Overall, Chacin owns a 3.78 ERA with 6.9 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 to go with a 48.2% groundball rate. He joins Ryan Webb as a recently-added veteran depth piece in the Cleveland system.
Of course, much of the same could have been said of Marcum, 33, who was quite a productive starter in his heyday but who has battled injuries in recent campaigns. He made one appearance for the Indians, allowing just one earned run in five innings of relief, but will presumably be left to look for a new opportunity.
As for Hayes, he is needed to fill in for the injured Yan Gomes. The veteran backup has never done much damage on offense but will provide a steady presence in reserve while Gomes is down. It remains to be seen how long his services will be needed at the big league level, as Cleveland is said to be weighing the possibility of making an addition to its catching corps.
The Indians have reached a minor league deal with righty Ryan Webb, the club announced. Webb has been assigned to the club’s Triple-A affiliate.
Webb started the year with the Orioles, still playing under the free agent contract he signed before the 2014 season. Before appearing in a game, he went through an interesting series of transactions that left him outrighted — and later released — by the Dodgers. As MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth explains, the net result was that Los Angeles paid down Webb’s 2015 salary in exchange for the rights to the 74th overall pick in this year’s amateur draft.
Of course, those maneuvers may sell Webb short to an extent. He has been at least an average reliever, with peripherals to match, over 325 1/3 innings across the last six seasons. He posted career bests in both strikeouts (6.8 per nine) and walks (2.2 per nine) last year. While his groundball rate fell only a few ticks above league average in 2014, he owns a strong 56.1% mark for his career.
All in all, he seems to be a nice player to have waiting at Triple-A — especially with another club picking up the tab. Cleveland obviously feels that way after moving quickly to add him to its depth chart.
Though the Indians will be without Yan Gomes for up to eight weeks, the team will not pursue starting catcher alternatives, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Cleveland believes that Roberto Perez can fill in as an everyday option behind the dish, according to Rosenthal. However, they may look to acquire a backup catching option that they consider to be an upgrade over Brett Hayes, who currently will fill the role with Perez’s playing time increasing.
The 31-year-old Hayes has seen Major League playing time in each of the past six seasons, though in some cases the sample was smaller than 20 plate appearances in a season. Despite the fact that Hayes is a pretty light-hitting option — as evidenced by his career .209/.252/.353 batting line — he’s still logged 175 games and 428 plate appearances in the Majors. He’s been roughly average in terms of catching base-stealers (25 percent) and has added some value with his ability to block pitches, though he does grade out as a below-average framer.
Earlier today I speculated that Dioner Navarro may be a fit in Cleveland, as he’d have an everyday role in Cleveland for the next couple of months (something both Navarro and Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos have hoped to find), but it seems that GM Chris Antonetti and his staff will pursue moves on a smaller scale.
Looking at the free agent market, there isn’t much presently available, at least not in terms of players who accumulated notable Major League action in 2014. J.P. Arencibia, 29, was released by the Orioles last week, and veteran switch-hitter Ryan Doumit didn’t sign a contract this offseason. However, Arencibia’s batting average and on-base percentage have continued a downward spiral over the past few seasons, and Doumit’s glove behind the plate has never drawn strong reviews.
Looking to the trade market, the Yankees may be willing to part with the recently outrighted Austin Romine, though they were likely happy to sneak him through waivers given his former top prospect status. Baltimore has a few viable options, most notably Steve Clevenger, whose agent has recently hinted that a trade may be more preferable than further time at the Triple-A level. The White Sox also have quite a bit of catching depth, with five backstops on their 40-man roster — Rob Brantly, Adrian Nieto and Kevan Smith are all in the Minors — and veteran George Kottaras at Triple-A as well. Colorado’s Wilin Rosario was known to be available for much of the winter, but he’s a poor defender behind the plate and likely qualifies as a higher-profile acquisition than Cleveland hopes to make.
Former Indians first baseman and outfielder Matt LaPorta has retired, former big-leaguer Joe Thurston tells FanGraphs’ David Laurila. LaPorta and Thurston played together in Mexico last year. LaPorta, the seventh overall pick in the 2007 draft, appeared at the time to be the key to the deal that send C.C. Sabathia from Cleveland to Milwaukee. (In time, of course, it became clear that Michael Brantley was the best player on the Indians’ end of the deal.) LaPorta appeared in parts of four seasons with Cleveland, hitting a disappointing .238/.301/.393 in 1,068 career plate appearances. Thurston, who collected 307 plate appearances playing second and third for the Cardinals in 2009, is also now retired and is working as a coach in the Red Sox system. Here are more quick notes from around the American League.
- Red Sox minor-league reliever Dana Eveland is only 31, but he’s already had a wide range of experiences within the game, Laurila writes. As a veteran of both Triple-A and the big leagues, he’s spent much of his career waiting on call-ups and demotions. “I got called up from a casino in Biloxi, Mississippi,” says Eveland. “I started the Double-A All-Star game there and after it was over, I went to the casino. I got called up from a three-card poker table. … During the season, you answer your cell phone when you see the right area code.” Eveland spent much of the 2014 season pitching well for the Mets, and he’s not considering giving up now that he’s back in the minors.
- GM Alex Anthopoulos says the Blue Jays continue to be open to trading Dioner Navarro if another team has a starting role for him, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca writes. The Jays could also keep Navarro, Anthopoulos adds. The GM also says the Jays are currently comfortable carrying 13 pitchers, which they’re doing in part because hurlers like Todd Redmond and Liam Hendriks are out of options. Going with a 13-man staff for now helps maintain their depth and gives them time to evaluate their players.