Cleveland Indians Rumors

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

Central Notes: Francona, Bailey, Bryant

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.”

Minor Moves: White Sox, Indians

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.

AL Central Notes: Gose, Marcum, Santana, Rodon

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.


Minor Moves: Rodriguez, Marcum, Davies, Freeman

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.

Indians Sign Jhoulys Chacin, Designate Shaun Marcum

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.


Indians Sign Ryan Webb

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.


Indians May Pursue Backup Catching Options

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.


AL Notes: LaPorta, Eveland, Blue Jays

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.

Yan Gomes Out Six To Eight Weeks With Knee Injury

An MRI today revealed a sprained MCL in the right knee of Indians catcher Yan Gomes, which will sideline the standout backstop for six to eight weeks, Cleveland has announced.

The injury to Gomes is a significant blow to the Indians, who are expected by many to contend for the AL Central title this season but will now be without one of their most valuable players for up to two months. In the interim, Roberto Perez figures to step into an everyday role behind the plate, and Carlos Santana can serve as a backup in the near-term. However, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Cleveland pursue upgrades from outside the organization.

Gomes, 27, has established himself as one of the game’s better catchers over the past season and a half, batting a combined .284/.325/.476 with 32 homers in 223 games from 2013-14. He’s also an excellent defender, grading very well in terms of both pitch-framing metrics and shutting down the running game. Gomes has caught 35 percent of opposing base stealers in his big league career, while the league-average rate in that time has been 27 percent. Both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference pegged Gomes’ value at roughly 4.5 wins above replacement last year.


Indians Release Brewer, Purchase Marcum’s Contract

The Indians announced a series of roster moves this morning, including the release of right-hander Charles Brewer, who had occupied a slot on the team’s 40-man roster. Cleveland has placed Yan Gomes on the 15-day disabled list with a knee sprain, optioned lefty Kyle Crockett to Triple-A, recalled right-hander Austin Adams and selected the contract of former Blue Jays/Brewers starter Shaun Marcum.

Cleveland picked up Brewer, 27, from the Diamondbacks this offseason. He didn’t appear in the Majors last year, but he did pitch six innings for the 2013 D-Backs, yielding a pair of runs with five strikeouts against two walks. In 169 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level (in the very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League), Brewer has a 5.29 ERA with 6.9K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.

As for Marcum, the right-hander will be taking the mound in the Majors for the first time since 2013 when he debuts for the Indians. Marcum was very good from 2010-12 with the Jays and Brewers, working to a 3.62 ERA (113 ERA+) with 7.5 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 520 innings of work. A nerve injury in his neck and thoracic outlet syndrome have hindered Marcum over the past two years, however. He spent the 2014 season rehabbing with the Indians in their Minor League system but only totaled 17 2/3 innings.