Cleveland Indians Rumors

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

Minor Moves: Baker, Ortiz, Tolleson, Bello, Sands

The day’s minor moves will be tracked right here:

  • The Dodgers have outrighted Scott Baker to Triple-A Oklahoma City following his DFA, tweets J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group. The 33-year-old Baker was designated on Sunday following a pair of starts in which he allowed seven runs in 11 innings of work with an 8-to-3 K/BB ratio. The former Twin has yet to establish himself as a credible mid-rotation starter, as he was in Minnesota from 2007-11, after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012.
  • Left-hander Joseph Ortiz has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Iowa after being designated for assignment by the Cubs over the weekend, MLBTR has learned (Twitter link). The 24-year-old Ortiz enjoyed a solid season with the Rangers in 2013 at just 22 years of age, working to a 4.23 ERA with 27 strikeouts against eight unintentional walks in 44 2/3 innings. Ortiz was involved in a freak accident prior to the 2014 season when was struck by a motorcyclist while walking down the street in his native Venezuela. The resulting fractures in his left foot cost him much of the 2014 season. Ortiz was claimed off waivers by the Cubs this winter and has a 3.38 ERA in 10 2/3 Triple-A innings, though he’s struck out just one hitter despite a career K/9 of 8.6 in the Minors.
  • Steven Tolleson has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A by the Blue Jays, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca tweets. The infielder could find himself back on the active roster in short order, per Davidi, as the club is currently lacking a reserve middle infielder after today’s roster moves.
  • The Padres have purchased the rights to catcher Yenier Bello from the independent league’s Joplin Blasters, according to Mark Schremmer of the Joplin Globe (via Twitter). Bello, 30, was released by the Braves just one year after signing out of Cuba. It seems rather likely that he will be looked upon as an organizational depth piece by the San Diego organization.
  • The Indians announced that outfielder Jerry Sands has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A. Sands could have declined the assignment and shopped his early-season .348/.400/.435 batting line on the open market, but apparently felt his best opportunity remained with the Cleveland organization.

Minor Moves: Cody Ross, Jerry Sands

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:


AL Central Notes: Young, Salcedo, Hu, Indians

A conversation with Minor League teammate Shawn Hill and an email to a St. Louis-based surgeon Robert Thompson in 2013 saved the career of Royals right-hander Chris Young, writes Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Young was unknowingly suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome — a difficult-to-detect shoulder condition in which nerves are pinched between the collarbone and top rib. Young described his symptoms to Hill, who first suggested thoracic outlet syndrome as a possibility, having suffered through the condition himself a year prior. Young had difficulty even turning his head side to side and often felt numbness in his fingers and hands. The surgery to alleviate the pain led to a 2014 AL Comeback Player of the Year Award for Young, but the 6’10” righty found little interest on the free agent market this winter. He expressed confusion to McCullough that just three teams showed significant interest, though fatigue at the end of the season and a subsequent 8.35 ERA over his final five starts may have had something to do with that, he acknowledged. Young notes that he eventually vowed to prove himself to big league teams this year. “…I had to remind myself to step back and say, ‘You know what? If I don’t like it, go perform better than I did last year.'”

Here’s more from the AL Central…

  • Twins Double-A right-hander Adrian Salcedo was suspended 80 games after testing positive for a PED and a stimulant (which USA Today’s Bob Nightengale identifies as Tamoxifen and Heptaminol, respectively), and GM Terry Ryan expressed disappointment and frustration in the situation to the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Mike Berardino“We met about it all spring. This is one where I guess it doesn’t matter how much you try to educate players. It happened, and it will happen again, unfortunately. No matter how much we preach and no matter how much the penalty, there are going to be people that are going to try to take advantage of the situation.” Salcedo is the second 80-game suspension in the Twins organization over the past month, though the first was far more detrimental to the organization, as it was issued to right-hander Ervin Santana, who signed a four-year, $55MM contract this winter.
  • Taiwanese right-hander Chih-Wei Hu, signed by the Twins for $220K in 2012, is seeing his prospect stock rise dramatically early in the year, writes Baseball America’s Josh Norris. Perhaps the most interesting note on Hu is his usage of a palmball — a pitch not often seen in today’s game. Norris notes that the pitch acts more like a splitter than a changeup but has changeup-like velocity, sitting in the mid-90s.
  • Though Terry Francona wouldn’t say he is questioning T.J. House‘s slot in the rotation, the Indians skipper did note that House’s pronounced struggles this season are troublesome, writes Cleveland.com’s Zack Meisel. House’s five earned runs in three innings last night further ballooned an already concerning ERA to 13.15, and the lefty has walked nearly a batter per inning in four starts this season. Meisel wonders who might step into the rotation, noting that Zach McAllister looks more at home in the bullpen. He speculatively lists Triple-A veterans Bruce Chen and Shaun Marcum as options, noting that each his pitched well in the upper Minors this far.


Indians Designate Jerry Sands

The Indians have designated outfielder Jerry Sands for assignment, the club announced. Righty Ryan Webb had his contract purchased as Cleveland looks for solutions to its pitching difficulties.

Sands, 27, has taken 25 trips to the plate this year and produced eight base hits and two walks, good for a short-sample .400 on-base percentage. He has not received much opportunity at the big league level since a solid-enough run at age 23 with the Dodgers (.253/.338/.389 in 227 plate appearances). But in parts of five seasons at the Triple-A level, Sands has slashed a useful .264/.346/.483.


Prospect Timeline Notes: Lindor, Correa, Franco

ESPN.com’s Keith Law ranked the top 25 big leaguers (non-rookies) who have yet to begin playing their age-25 season (Insider piece). I won’t bore you with the obvious top choice, and many of the names are obviously to be expected. Only one pitcher (Gerrit Cole) made it into Law’s top ten, though plenty more appear further down the line. Perhaps the most interesting slot is #6, which features the increasingly hard-to-ignore Nolan Arenado.

Which of the next crop of prospects will similarly make that leap from tearing up the minors to producing at the big league level? That remains to be seen, of course, but some may soon get a chance to begin proving themselves. Here’s the latest on promotion timelines for some of the game’s top prospects:

  • The Indians are happy with how young shortstop Francisco Lindor has progressed at Triple-A but are not planning to be aggressive with moving him up, T.J. Zuppe of 92.3 The Fan reported recently. GM Chris Antonetti says that Lindor’s timeline “hasn’t changed from what we talked about in Spring Training,” and also noted that the club still believes in Jose Ramirez. MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince recently advocated for a move up for Lindor, citing the struggles of Ramirez and the club as a whole, but it should be remembered that he is just 21 years old and has yet to dominate (offensively, anyway) at any minor league level.
  • Another highly-touted shortstop, Carlos Correa of the Astros, now has a clear path to the big leagues after a significant injury to major league starter Jed Lowrie. But as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports, the 20-year-old’s incredible start at Double-A is probably not enough to force a promotion at this point. Things may have been different had Correa not missed significant time last season with a broken leg, but GM Jeff Luhnow indicated that the club does not want to rush him through the upper minors. “He’s definitely a special player, so his time will come faster than it would for other guys,” said Luhnow. “But having —he’s got 70 at-bats above Class A, and we feel like he needs some more. But how many more, I don’t know. And it’ll be a different number for him than it would be for someone else.”
  • We’ve heard recently that the Phillies are in no rush to move up top prospect Maikel Franco. But the team just began working out incumbent third baseman Cody Asche in the outfield, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports, which could be an indication that preparations are being made for Franco to slot in at the hot corner. The 22-year-old had a rough introduction to the big leagues last year — which not only showed the need for further development, but means that a promotion before May 15 (per Salisbury’s calculation) would cost the club a season of control. Franco is off to a strong .333/.371/.512 start in his first 89 plate appearances at Triple-A this year.

D-Backs, Rays, Royals Among Clubs Discussing Saltalamacchia

10:50pm: Heyman adds, via Twitter, that the Orioles are not in the mix for Saltalamacchia.

10:05pm: The Diamondbacks, Rays and Royals are all discussing Saltalamacchia, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It’s unclear if Kansas City’s interest has picked up at all between McCullough’s report and this latest update, though the Rays and certainly the D-Backs would seem to have a bigger need behind the dish. Like MacPherson yesterday, Heyman hears that the Red Sox aren’t in the mix.

4:14pm: The Royals have some interest in Saltalamacchia, but their interest is said to be very preliminary, according to Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). As McCullough notes, GM Dayton Moore was the Braves’ director of player development when Atlanta drafted Saltalamacchia.

APRIL 28, 3:12pm: The Angels are not currently involved in trade talks while the Mariners are weighing internally whether to pursue him, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). 

APRIL 27: The Marlins have already had contact with five teams regarding Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports on Twitter. GM Dan Jennings says that he expects to find a deal for the just-designated backstop.

Among the potential landing spots are the Red Sox, Indians, Mariners, and Diamondbacks, one source tells ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). According to other reports, however, Boston is “unlikely” to be interested in adding the 29-year-old, as Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal tweets, even if it were able to add him for just the league minimum.

Saltalamacchia thrived in Boston, slashing a combined .243/.307/.455 during his four seasons there. Since earning a large free agent payday to join the Marlins last year, Saltalamacchia owns a fairly disapointing .209/.310/.351 line at the plate. That output, while still not bad for a catcher, was not enough to outweigh his lightly-regarded defensive work.

Nevertheless, Salty remains an interesting option for teams looking for a backup or injury replacement (as the above list would indicate). The switch hitter has been much more productive historically against right-handed pitching (.775 career OPS) and makes for a natural platoon mate for any right-handed swinging backstop.


AL Central Notes: Gardenhire, Tigers ‘Pen, Indians

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).

AL Central Relief Notes: Frasor, Nathan, Indians

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.

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.