Cleveland Indians Rumors

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

AL Notes: Cherington, Blanton, Lindor, Street

Explaining his presence in Oakland during a tough stretch for his club, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington offered some words of general wisdom for the sometimes overly-eager interpretation of his movement outside of Boston. As Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports, Cherington says that he flew out to join the team as part of a previously-planned, monthly effort. “If something is going I need to be there for I’€™ll go,” said Cherington, “but 99 percent of the time it’€™s just what is scheduled. As GM, I don’€™t remember ever being with the team on the road where it just hasn’€™t been part of the schedule.” The same, often, holds true of top execs being present to see amateur talent. “Somebody will make a deal of me being somewhere to see an amateur player. It’€™s almost never about seeing that player, but rather that’€™s the opportunity to go spend some time with your scouts and connect with them,” Cherington explaned. “I’€™m not sitting in the draft room and saying, ‘€˜I saw this guy on May 13 and this is what he did.’€™ I’€™m just not doing that.” Of course, the Kremlinologists among us will note that Cherington’s words provide perfect cover for more surreptitious missions.

  • Royals righty Joe Blanton has an opt-out opportunity tomorrow, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com tweets. Kansas City hopes to keep Blanton, with Flanagan writing that the expectation is the veteran will be “patient” in assessing his options. Certainly, given the state of the K.C. rotation, Blanton can reasonably expect to earn a shot at some big league innings at some point this year. The Royals staff is just one of many subjects touched upon by Steve Adams and myself in today’s AL Central-centric podcast (check back at about noon central for that).
  • The “timing isn’t now” for Francisco Lindor to reach the Indians roster, GM Chris Antonetti told reporters including MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter links). That assessment is “not at all” due to an effort to avoid Super Two status, says Antonetti. Instead, the club believes that Lindor — who has not forced his way up with his play at Triple-A — simply needs more time. Cleveland is hurting for production at shortstop at present, though it is not clear that Lindor would be an immediate upgrade over the scuffling Jose Ramirez.
  • Last night, Huston Street inked a two-year, $18MM extension with the Angels. As MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports on Twitter, Street was motivated in part by a desire to play for a competitor. “It’s multiple years where I have a chance to really matter,” he explained. On the financial side of the ledger, my own opinion is that Street could and would have earned more on the open market — which is generally the case, of course, but is especially true given the somewhat less top-loaded relief market expected next winter. Then again, the decision to pass on some future earning opportunity to lock down a guarantee in a situation he favors is eminently understandable; such is the tradeoff that must be made to avoid the risk of a full season’s workload, especially for a low-velocity reliever.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Athletics, Indians, Frazier

Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video at FOX Sports:

  • The Athletics aren’t currently considering trading Scott Kazmir and aren’t yet letting go of their hopes of contending, Rosenthal says. The team was dealt another blow yesterday, however, in the form of setbacks to Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, at least one of whom the A’s might have counted on later in the season to fill a spot in the rotation and bump Drew Pomeranz to the bullpen.
  • An executive says the Indians could be sellers this summer if their 10-18 season doesn’t dramatically improve. Carlos Santana and Brandon Moss could be on the block if they do. Santana is signed through 2016 with a reasonable option for 2017, while Moss has one more year of arbitration eligibility beyond this one before he can become a free agent.
  • Rosenthal wonders how it will be possible for the Reds to sign Todd Frazier long-term, given their already-heavy load of commitments to veterans. Rosenthal says Frazier is eligible for free agency after next season, although he actually isn’t eligible until after 2017 — his current contract carries through 2016, but the Reds can take him through arbitration once more after that. That one year makes a considerable difference, since it means the Reds already control Frazier through his age-31 season. As terrific a year as Frazier is having, trying to control him beyond 31 might be risky, and representative of the kinds of commitments that have caused the Reds’ current payroll headaches. Still, Rosenthal is probably right that Frazier could become a trade candidate at some point, given the Reds’ need to acquire young talent.

Central Notes: Harris, Indians, Price

29-year-old rookie Mitch Harris‘ long path to the big leagues went through the Naval Academy and military service in the Middle East, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. The Cardinals drafted Harris all the way back in 2008, but he did not actually pitch in the minors until 2013, after serving nearly five years in the Navy. “The early returns were not positive,” says GM John Mozeliak. “When we got him, he was throwing 80 miles an hour. He was in good condition, but not baseball condition.” Nonetheless, Harris made quick work of the minor leagues, getting up to 97 MPH this spring. The Cardinals promoted him two weeks ago, and he hasn’t yet allowed a run in 6 2/3 innings pitched. Here are more quick notes from the Central divisions.

  • The Indians will replace former Triple-A Columbus pitching coach Carl Willis with Tim Belcher for the next two days, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. After that, lower-level pitching coordinator Julio Rangel will take over in what sounds like an interim basis. Willis, of course, recently took over as the Red Sox’ new pitching coach.
  • Tigers ace David Price‘s MRI this morning showed he had a mild hamstring strain, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets. The Tigers won’t place him on the disabled list, so he will make his next start Thursday against Minnesota. Price left Friday’s game after stepping on a bat while backing up home plate, but it appears he doesn’t have a significant injury.


Indians Designate Anthony Swarzak For Assignment

The Indians have announced that they’ve selected the contract of veteran lefty Bruce Chen and designated righty Anthony Swarzak for assignment. Chen is expected to start Saturday against Minnesota.

The Indians signed Swarzak to a minor-league deal in January after the Twins outrighted him, and he made Cleveland’s bullpen out of Spring Training. He posted a 3.38 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 13 1/3 innings with the Indians, although he allowed four unearned runs in that time. For his six-year career, the 29-year-old has a 4.45 ERA, 5.6 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 453 innings, spending about a third of that time starting and two-thirds of it relieving.


AL Notes: Griffin, Parker, Smyly, Cabrera, Willis, Rodon

We touched on injuries earlier this evening, but two significant situations have popped up since — both regarding rehabbing Athletics pitchers. First, righty A.J. Griffin was forced out early from his simulated game with shoulder soreness, as John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports. Griffin’s injury was to his elbow, of course, and the club is hopeful that the shoulder pain only constitutes a minor setback. More troublingly, fellow Tommy John patient Jarrod Parker left his Triple-A rehab start in a scene that left observers seriously concerned about his arm, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Parker, who is said to have been overcome by pain after throwing a very wild pitch, walked off with assistance while clutching his surgically repaired right elbow — which is now on its third UCL. The Athletics‘ summer trade plans are virtually impossible to gauge anyway, but the inability of either of those pitchers to return to the rotation would certainly have an impact. Lefty Scott Kazmir has been talked about quite a bit as a possible trade candidate, though moving him could prove tough if the team is in contention and does not have replacements lined up.

  • Another new arm issue cropped up for the Rays, too, who have placed lefty Drew Smyly on the 15-day DL with shoulder soreness, per Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune (Twitter link). Smyly, the key piece in last summer’s David Price trade, had already missed time early this year with a shoulder issue, which enhances the level of concern.
  • Injured Orioles shortstop Everth Cabrera, who has struggled for Baltimore, is no longer capable of being optioned without consent as he has reached five years of service, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun notes (Twitter link). With J.J. Hardy returning to action, Cabrera may not have an active roster spot when he returns, and his new service time status could well complicate the club’s decisionmaking.
  • The Red Sox have hired away Carl Willis from the Indians to become their new pitching coach, Jim Massie of the Columbus Dispatch reports (h/t to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe). Willis had been the Triple-A pitching coach for Cleveland. He’ll be tasked with getting better production out of a starting staff that has struggled in the first five weeks of the season.
  • Prized White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon is expected to receive only a spot start tomorrow, Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com reports. Manager Robin Ventura did leave some room open for Rodon to earn another start, however, saying: “the way it sits right now, he would still be back in the bullpen and getting us some innings there.” Regardless of how things progress in the near term, it seems that Chicago’s plan is to use Rodon in the pen to manage his innings, perhaps with the hope of having him as a starter down the stretch — assuming, at least, that the club can stay in the postseason picture.

Indians Sign Carlos Marmol To Minors Deal

The Indians have announced the signing of right-hander Carlos Marmol to a minor league contract. Marmol, a client of the Kinzer Management Group, was reportedly throwing in the mid-90’s from a new arm slot during a scouting showcase in the Dominican Republic.

Velocity has never really been an issue for Marmol over his career, as control (a career 6.2 BB/9) has always plagued his ability to be a reliable bullpen arm.  In his prime, Marmol posted a 2.54 ERA and a whopping 441 strikeouts over 308 1/3 innings out of the Cubs bullpen from 2007-10.  Even during that impressive stretch, however, he still averaged 5.6 walks per nine innings.

Marmol only managed an 8.10 ERA, 9.5 K/9 and 6.8 BB/9 over 13 1/3 innings with Miami last season.  After being released by the Marlins, Marmol signed a minor league deal with the Reds, though he never pitched for Cincinnati on the MLB level and had an overall controversial tenure with the organization.

Cleveland’s bullpen has generally posted middle-of-the-pack bullpen numbers this season, though Marmol is probably seen as more of a project at this point than as someone who could provide immediate help to the Tribe’s relief corps.  Marmol’s natural stuff is still so intriguing that there’s no harm for the Indians (once this deal is finalized) in seeing what he has in Triple-A.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that a deal was close (Twitter link). SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reported (via Twitter) that the deal was done.


Red Sox Notes: Nieves, Rotation, Saltalamacchia

The Red Sox announced today that they have relieved pitching coach Juan Nieves of his duties. Nieves joined the Boston coaching staff prior to the 2013 season and assisted the club’s World Series run in a year in which the team’s pitching staff posted a collective 3.79 ERA. GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell spoke to the media on a conference call today to discuss that change, the club’s rotation and a few other notes. Here are some highlights and a bit more on the BoSox…

  • The Red Sox have a very small list of replacement candidates for Nieves, Cherington said (Twitter links via WEEI’s Rob Bradford). Boston is considering at least one internal and one external candidate. The primary reason for Nieves’ dismissal was an inability to get through to Boston’s current group of starters, Bradford tweets. Cherington stressed that there was no singular incident that led to the decision to let Nieves go, the Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber tweets. There will be no further changes to the coaching staff, he added (via Bradford).
  • Despite struggles within the rotation, there will be no changes to the starting five, according to Cherington (via the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier). Rick Porcello, Justin Masterson, Wade Miley, Joe Kelly and Clay Buchholz have combined for a 5.54 ERA that is the second-worst rotation ERA in the Majors, with only Colorado’s 5.59 mark coming in above Boston’s starting five.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Indians Triple-A pitching coach Carl Willis is a consideration to replace Nieves (Twitter link). Willis, who has formerly served as the Major League pitching coach in Cleveland, worked with Farrell in the Indians organization in the early to mid-2000s, Rosenthal adds in a second tweet. Willis was also the Mariners’ pitching coach as recently as 2013.
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia spoke with Bradford yesterday and told him that he “was definitely hoping to come back” to Boston after initially learning that the Marlins had designated him for assignment. However, Saltalamacchia was told that he’d have to search elsewhere for employment, and he tells Bradford that he understands the Sox’ decision in wanting to give Blake Swihart a chance behind the plate. “I can completely respect that,” said Saltalamacchia, in regards to Swihart. “As a player you appreciate something like that, when a team has a homegrown, young guy they want to give an opportunity to. That’s what every player hopes for and wants, that opportunity to prove himself.”

AL Central Notes: Rodon, Chen, Bourn, Rios

Top White Sox prospect Carlos Rodon will make his first career big league start on Saturday. Rodon has pitched from the pen in the early going, but will get a chance to take the hill to open the game due to the five-game suspension of Jeff Samardzija. It remains to be seen what the team’s plans are the rest of the way with their highly-touted rookie, who was taken in last year’s draft out of N.C. State, but there seems to be at least a chance that he could pitch himself into a starting role given the struggles the team has had at the back end of the rotation.

  • Speaking of interesting Saturday starters, the Indians will purchase the contract of journeyman lefty Bruce Chen to face the Twins this weekend, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. Chen inked a minor league deal with Cleveland and chose to stay with the organization rather than opting out when he did not make the Opening Day roster. The team will need to clear space on both its 40-man and 25-man rosters.
  • Of broader concern for the Indians, GM Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona are facing their biggest challenge of their combined tenure, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer explains. Expectations were high heading into the year, of course, and the club has roundly struggled thus far. The sense of urgency is evident, says Hoynes, as demonstrated by the team’s decision not to play center fielder Michael Bourn against lefties. As Hoynes rightly points out, the Bourn contract looked like a nice value when it was signed, but has hardly worked out for the Indians. Bourn has not only struggled offensively this year, but is not even providing the anticipated positive contribution in the field and on the bases. (Both UZR and DRS rate him as a negative in center over last year and this season’s early going.)
  • Royals skipper Ned Yost says that he hopes outfielder Alex Rios will be back from his hand injury in about two weeks, per ESPN News Services. But the veteran just started swinging a bat again and does not have a precise timeline, per a tweet from Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. His replacements — Paulo Orlando and Jarrod Dyson — have actually been pretty good, at least if you buy into a short sample of defensive metrics. Both fWAR and rWAR value the pair at nearly one combined win above replacement.

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: