The Indians have announced that they’ve optioned rookie outfielder Tyler Naquin to Triple-A Columbus. They’ve also recalled Cody Anderson, who will start today’s game against the Royals. With Naquin heading down, it appears Rajai Davis will take over as the Indians’ everyday center fielder. The move initially appears to be a somewhat surprising one, since Naquin has hit .315/.327/.426 this season. There does appear to be some logic to the move, however. Naquin struck out 19 times against one walk, and he has limited Triple-A experience. The Indians also have more outfield options than they did at the beginning of the season with Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall having returned from the disabled list. It might also be worth noting that if Naquin plays for a few weeks in the minors this season, the Indians can control him for an extra year, potentially allowing him to reach free agency after 2022 rather than 2021. Here’s more from the Central divisions.
MAY 6: Perez will miss the next eight to 12 weeks as he recovers from the operation, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via Twitter).
MAY 5: Indians catcher Roberto Perez will undergo surgery on his fractured right thumb, the club announced. It’s not yet known how long the procedure and resulting rehab will keep him out.
There had been at least some hope that Perez would avoid surgery, which presumably would have held out the promise of at least a somewhat shorter recovery timetable. Evidently, that was not a viable option, and Indians manager Terry Francona has suggested that there may not be that much of a difference in terms of time missed regardless.
Cleveland certainly will miss Perez’s presence behind Yan Gomes in the catching ranks, though the team was able to acquire Chris Gimenez to fill in. Gomes has continued his offensive lull from 2015, increasing the need for an alternative, though Perez had only received 15 plate appearances thus far. Last year, Perez, was one of the game’s more useful reserve receivers, compiling a .228/.348/.402 batting line in 226 plate appearances while also rating well behind the dish (according to Baseball Prospectus).
- The Tigers’ rotation costs more than five times that of the division-rival Indians’ rotation, observes MLive.com’s Chris Iott, who provides a breakdown of the cost of starting pitching throughout the AL Central. The significant sum that the team is spending isn’t lost on GM Al Avila, who implies to Iott that he’s focused on making that unit more cost-effective in the years to come. “It’s very important to develop your own pitching,” said Avila. “You can’t trade for a five-man rotation. You can’t sign five free agents. It’ll cost you an arm and a leg.” Those comments, some might say, run counter to the manner in which Avila acted this offseason when he signed Jordan Zimmerman (five years, $110MM) and Mike Pelfrey (two years, $16MM). However, Avila also revealed that he persistently received calls regarding prospects Michael Fulmer and Daniel Norris this winter but was quick to turn away interested parties, believing each to be a key part of the organization’s future. “Those young pitchers are gold to us,” said Avila.
- Over at Fangraphs, August Fagerstrom lays out the case that Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor is the best in all of baseball. Simply put, Lindor has been the more valuable contributor than fellow young star Carlos Correa since both debuted, with the former’s large advantage on defense more than making up for the latter’s slight offensive edge. Of course, that’s looking at what’s already happened, and it takes much more to assess what we ought to expect moving forward. Projections still prefer Correa’s bat, notes Fagerstrom, so one needs to buy into Lindor’s improvements at the plate and his ability to sustain a high BABIP in order to think he can keep pace with his peer from Houston (and other viable contenders for the crown).
- The Indians announced today that left-hander Ross Detwiler has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus after clearing waivers (Twitter link). Given his service time, Detwiler could have rejected the assignment in favor of free agency, but he’ll instead seek a return to form with Cleveland’s top minor league affiliate. It’s been a rough 13 months for Detwiler, who was traded from the Nats to the Rangers last offseason and has since struggled in Texas, Atlanta and Cleveland. In 63 innings across the past two seasons, the 30-year-old has a bloated 7.14 ERA with nearly as many walks (40) as strikeouts (44). Detwiler, though, was a solid contributor to the Nationals’ pitching staff from 2010-14, recording a 3.61 ERA in 394 1/3 innings pitched while splitting his time between the rotation and the bullpen. Kyle Crockett is currently the lone lefty in Cleveland’s bullpen, while Detwiler and fellow veteran Tom Gorzelanny are the only lefties in the Triple-A bullpen. That would seem to open a window for Detwiler to return, though the club could also pluck a starter such as T.J. House or Ryan Merritt from the Triple-A rotation and insert him into the Major League relief corps.
The Indians have acquired catcher Chris Gimenez from the Rangers, Texas VP of communications John Blake announced. Cash considerations are going back in the deal.
For the Indians, Gimenez will help fill the void left by the injured Roberto Perez, who’s on the DL and could miss significant time with a broken thumb. Gimenez is only returning to readiness now after dealing with an ankle infection. The 33-year-old has long been a reserve backstop; last year, with the Rangers, he contributed a .255/.330/.490 slash in 113 plate appearances.
The 31-year-old Moore has seen action in each of the last seven MLB seasons, but has only picked up 287 MLB plate appearances in that span. He owns a lifetime .201/.241/.309 batting line.
- Indians catcher Roberto Perez suffered a fractured thumb while making a tag at the plate on Odubel Herrera over the weekend, and he now faces the possibility of surgery, writes MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. The team will wait three days before having Perez’s hand re-evaluated, which will let the swelling around the thumb subside and lead to a clearer analysis of the injury. Manager Terry Francona offered a somewhat optimistic outlook, telling the media that a surgical procedure might not come with a considerably lengthier recovery timeline than a simple rest-and-rehab approach. Adam Moore has been called up from Triple-A to serve as the backup to Yan Gomes in the meantime, and if Cleveland is on the lookout for additional catching depth, Texas did designate former Indians backstop Chris Gimenez for assignment earlier today.
- Eddy also reports that catcher Luke Carlin has signed a minor league deal with the Indians, but Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer clarifies that it’s a coaching gig (Twitter link). Carlin spent the 2010-14 seasons in the Cleveland organization and saw a bit of time in the Majors in 2010 and 2012. Carlin has 156 Major League plate appearances and has batted .179/.263/.286 in that time. He’s a career .239/.357/.350 hitter at the minor league level, where he’s prevented 31 percent of stolen base attempts and drawn consistently solid pitch-framing marks from Baseball Prospectus.
Here are today’s minor transactions from around baseball:
- The Indians have placed catcher Roberto Perez on the disabled list with a thumb injury and recalled Adam Moore from Triple-A to take his place, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). Perez, Yan Gomes’ backup, was a 1.7-fWAR player in just 70 games last year, but he has only appeared in four contests this season, going without a hit in 15 PAs. In 287 big league PAs, the 31-year-old Moore and has hit a weak .201/.241/.309.
- The Nationals activated catcher Wilson Ramos from the bereavement list before their game against the Cardinals on Sunday and optioned backstop Pedro Severino to Triple-A, per Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com (on Twitter). Ramos, a career .259/.301/.413 hitter over 1,839 big league PAs, batted a solid .316/.328/.491 with two home runs and threw out four of eight base stealers in April. Severino appeared in only one game and logged three PAs in Ramos’ absence.
- The White Sox have activated closer David Robertson from the bereavement list and optioned right-hander Tommy Kahnle to Triple-A, reports Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago (Twitter link). Robertson, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, has converted eight of nine save opportunities this season in dominant fashion. The 31-year-old has racked up 13 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings of work while surrendering a single run. Kahnle threw an inning for the White Sox prior to today and walked two batters.
- The Braves recalled utilityman Emilio Bonifacio from Triple-A and optioned right-handed reliever Chris Withrow on Sunday morning. However, because of a rule technicality the Braves were unaware of, they can’t activate Bonifacio today, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Specifically, the Braves need to wait 30 days from the date they released Bonifacio (April 6) to activate him, per O’Brien (Twitter link). Atlanta brought back the switch-hitting Bonifacio on a minor league deal after it released him. He owns a career .259/.316/.337 line in 2,807 major league plate appearances and will lengthen the Braves’ bench if he’s ultimately activated. Atlanta needed reserve depth after it had utilized a 13-man pitching staff over the last couple weeks, as Mark Bowman of MLB.com wrote Saturday. Withrow, a former Dodger, threw seven innings with the Braves prior to today, striking out four and allowing three earned runs on five hits and five walks. Those seven frames were Withrow’s first in the majors since 2014, as he underwent Tommy John surgery that year and later required surgery on a herniated disk in his lower back.
Detwiler, 30, signed a minor league deal with Cleveland and made the club out of Spring Training but has struggled in the early stages of the ’16 campaign, allowing three runs on three hits and four walks with three strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. Once a solid fifth starter for the Nationals, Detwiler was shifted to the bullpen in 2014, where he provided Washington with 63 innings of 4.00 ERA ball. That marked his last somewhat productive season in the Majors, though, as Detwiler was traded to the Rangers in the 2014-15 offseason and posted an unsightly 7.25 ERA in 58 1/3 innings split between the Rangers and the Braves.
Hunter, 29, signed with Cleveland this past offseason. While he originally had a reported two-year offer in the $11-12MM range agreed upon with the Yankees, New York backed out due to medical concerns, and Hunter would ultimately sign for a year and $2MM with the Indians. Hunter landed on the DL to open the season due to a groin injury and some lingering effects from offseason hernia surgery, but reports indicated that neither was the cause for New York’s apparent trepidation.
Hunter solidified himself as a reliable middle-relief/setup arm with a pair of strong seasons in Baltimore from 2013-14 (2.88 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 1.6 BB/9 in 147 innings), but he was somewhat surprisingly traded from the Orioles to the Cubs last summer despite the fact that he’d again posted solid numbers and the Orioles made other win-now moves (i.e. acquiring Gerardo Parra from the Brewers). Hunter struggled with the Cubs, surrendering 10 runs on 20 hits and three walks with 15 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. He’ll look to return to his 2013-14 form now as a member of a Cleveland ’pen that has seen its share of struggles (most notably among closer Cody Allen and setup man Bryan Shaw). With a nice showing in Cleveland, Hunter could work his way back toward the multi-year deal that so narrowly eluded him this past winter.
- Trevor Bauer will move back into the Indians rotation while Carlos Carrasco is on the shelf, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. The 25-year-old lost the competition for a starting job out of camp, with Josh Tomlin and Cody Anderson grabbing those spots. But it’s certainly possible to imagine him forcing his way back in even after Carrasco returns, particularly with Anderson off to a rough start.