Cleveland Indians Rumors

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

Indians Release Nyjer Morgan

The Indians announced that they have released outfielder Nyjer Morgan. The 34-year-old has been on the shelf for nearly three months with a sprained PCL in his right knee. Manager Terry Francona told reporters, including MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter link), that it was a mutual decision for the two sides to cut the cord.

Morgan appeared in 15 games for the Indians earlier this season, hitting a healthy .341/.429/.439 with a homer and three stolen bases in 52 plate appearances. That marked his first big league action since 2012, as he spent the 2013 campaign playing overseas with the Yokohama Bay Stars of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan, where he slashed .294/.361/.434 in 108 games.

For his career, the sometimes controversial Morgan — also known as “Tony Plush” — is a .282/.343/.366 hitter in 2206 plate appearances between the Pirates, Nationals, Brewers and Indians. Cleveland has seen its center field depth take multiple hits this season, with Morgan and Michael Bourn both having spent significant time on the disabled list.


Minor Moves: Hernandez, De Paula, Roenicke, Feierabend, Hayes

Here are the latest minor league transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Rockies have outrighted Pedro Hernandez to Triple-A, according to the MLB transactions page. The 25-year-old lefty made one start for Colorado before he was designated. As he has previously been outrighted, Hernandez will have the right to elect free agency.
  • Reliever Jose De Paula has re-signed with the Giants on a minor league deal, per the MLB transactions page. The club had designated and then released him just days ago.
  • The Nationals have released righty Josh Roenicke, according to the International League transactions page. Roenicke had spent at least some time in the big leagues for each of the prior six seasons, and logged 150 2/3 between 2012-13. But moving to the starting rotation for the first time as a professional has not resulted in high-level production at Triple-A this year; Roenicke has struggled to a 5.45 ERA through 79 1/3 frames (15 starts) with 4.2 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9.
  • Ryan Feierabend of the Rangers has accepted an outright assignment rather than electing free agency, tweets Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The left-hander made his way back to the bigs for the first time since 2008 with a Texas club that has cycled through more than its fair share of arms this year.
  • The Royals outrighted Brett Hayes to Triple-A after the catcher cleared waivers, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link).  As the backup behind workhorse starter Salvador Perez, Hayes hasn’t seen much action this year, appearing in 27 games and posting a .362 OPS over only 53 PA.
  • The Diamondbacks signed right-hander Graham Godfrey, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports.  Godfrey posted a 5.09 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 46 innings with the A’s in 2011-12 and he spent last season pitching for the Red Sox and Pirates’ Triple-A affiliates.
  • The Diamondbacks released first baseman Wagner Mateo earlier this week, according to the Pioneer League’s transactions page.  Mateo originally signed a contract as a 16-year-old with the Cardinals worth a $3.1MM bonus in 2009 but St. Louis voided that deal after Mateo’s physical revealed apparent vision problems.  Mateo signed a $512K contract with the D’Backs a year later and hit .230/.312/.349 over 802 pro plate appearances, never getting above the High-A ball level.  He also posted an 8.87 ERA over 22 1/3 relief innings over the last two seasons.
  • The Reds released right-hander Adam Russell last week, as announced via Twitter by their Triple-A Louisville affiliate.  Russell posted a 3.95 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and 1.46 K/BB rate over 86 2/3 relief innings with the White Sox, Padres and Rays from 2008-11, and he’s since toiled in the minors with four other organizations.  He had a 4.33 ERA, 8.7 K/9 and 1.79 K/BB in 35 1/3 IP this season with Louisville.
  • Zach McAllister and Evan Scribner were both respectively optioned to Triple-A by the Indians and Athletics over the weekend.  The two righties were both on optional assignment waivers after being designated off their team’s 25-man rosters (but not the 40-man rosters) on Friday, though they were procedural moves rather than traditional DFAs, and neither player was in any danger of being claimed by another club.
  • To monitor players who have been properly designated for assignment, check out MLBTR’s DFA Tracker, as a whopping 10 players currently reside in “DFA limbo.”

D’Backs Notes: Parra, Prado, Bauer, Bradley

Here’s the latest from the desert…

  • The Diamondbacks’ deadline trades are analyzed by several rival talent evaluators, who share their thoughts with Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.  Some scouts feel Gerardo Parra is on the decline and could’ve been a non-tender candidate since he’s on pace to earn between $6-7MM in arbitration this winter, so “getting even a decent piece for Parra is a great move,” said one American League source.  Parra was dealt to the Brewers on Thursday.
  • Catching prospect Peter O’Brien has power but his defense and ability to play in the NL drew mixed reviews from scouts, though the biggest benefit of his acquisition was that the Yankees took the roughly $25MM remaining on Martin Prado‘s contract off Arizona’s books.  Losing Prado, of course, removes the biggest piece from the Justin Upton trade, and Piecoro notes that the D’Backs have now traded several stars (including Upton, Prado and Parra, among others) when their value has been low, rather than selling high.
  • One of those low-return deals could be the three-team trade between the D’Backs, Reds and Indians from December 2012, as Zack Meisel of the Cleveland Plain Dealer feels the Tribe look like the winners of that trade 20 months later.  Arizona gave up a highly-regarded pitching prospect in Trevor Bauer (due to reported attitude issues with team management) and relievers Bryan Shaw and Matt Albers in the trade, and now Bauer seems to be turning the corner as a rotation staple while Shaw has been a valuable setup man for Cleveland.  The Snakes, meanwhile, got back Tony Sipp, Lars Anderson and Didi Gregorius in the deal; they’ll regret this one if Bauer becomes an ace, though Gregorius seems like a promising enough young shortstop that I wouldn’t say Arizona made off poorly in the trade.
  • Archie Bradley is pitching well at Double-A Mobile and, perhaps more importantly, is healthy after an injury scare in April, Jack Magruder writes for Baseball America.  Bradley was shut down for a while to ensure that his right elbow was fit, and he has a 3.97 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and a 1.47 K/BB rate in 34 innings for Mobile (his numbers somewhat inflated by one particularly poor start).  Magruder speculates that Bradley might get a late-season promotion if the D’Backs move to a six-man rotation.


Jim Thome Officially Retires

First baseman and five-time All-Star Jim Thome has officially retired after signing an honorary contract with the Indians today. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer was the first to tweet the news. Thome, who will turn 44 next month, is a veteran of 22 seasons. The Indians unveiled a statue of Thome earlier today as part of the ceremonies.

Thome’s last major league stop was with the Orioles in 2012, where he posted a .257/.348/.396 line over 115 plate appearances. He was said to be looking for another opportunity this past offseason, and he’s also expressed interest in becoming a big league manager.

He’s best remembered for his 12 year stint with the Indians, where he contributed a career high 52 home runs in 2002. He also briefly returned for part of the 2011 season. The beloved first baseman blasted 337 out of 612 career home runs as an Indian. His home run total ranks first in franchise history – he’s 95 home runs ahead of second place basher Albert Belle. Thome was worth 45.7 fWAR during his time in Cleveland, despite generally negative fielding scores. Three of his All-Star appearances came with Cleveland. The Indians went to the postseason six times during the Thome era.

Fans of Philadelphia also have fond memories of Thome. While he never carried the Phillies to the postseason, he ushered in an era of competitiveness and free agent spending that coincided with the opening of Citizen’s Bank Park. Overall, he hit 96 home runs in his first stint with the Phillies and later returned to park five more in 2012. The Phillies traded Thome to the White Sox after the 2005 season to make room for Rookie of the Year first base prospect Ryan Howard (Howard went on to win the MVP in 2006). At that point in Thome’s career, injuries were making it hard for him to play in the field every day.

With a career .276/.402/.554 line and 612 home runs to his name, Thome seemingly has a strong case for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. The home run total ranks seventh all time. Fangraphs pegs his career Wins Above Replacement at 67.7 fWAR while Baseball-Reference has a slightly higher 72.9 rWAR. His reputation as one of the “good guys” of the steroid era may help his case, although he may also have to battle a dense ballot of candidates.

As previously mentioned, Thome was a five time All-Star, including three times with Cleveland, once as a Phillie, and one time with the White Sox. He never finished higher than fourth in the MVP voting (2003), but he garnered votes in eight seasons. He also won the Silver Slugger award in 1996. In addition to his six postseason appearances with the Indians, Thome visited October four more times – each with a different team. Unfortunately, he was never a part of a World Series Champion.

MLBTR wishes him well in his new career path and congratulates Thome on an excellent Major League career.


Waiver Trade Notes: Hosmer, Maholm, Skaggs, O’s, A’s, D’backs, Castillo

As we explained yesterday, the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline does not spell the end of wheeling and dealing. Several teams are expected to continue shopping over the coming month as well. Here are some notes that relate to the upcoming August trade period:

  • Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer could miss much of the rest of the regular season with a stress fracture of his right hand, tweets Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Though he is expected to avoid surgery, Hosmer could be out for up to six weeks. It would not be surprising to see the club look to add a first baseman to hold down the fort in his absence.
  • Paul Maholm of the Dodgers has suffered a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports ( Twitter links). That only serves to increase the team’s need for rotation depth; though Maholm was operating out of the pen, he had been perhaps the likeliest option to step into a starting role if the struggling Dan Haren was demoted.
  • Angels hurler Tyler Skaggs left in the middle of a no-hit bid Thursday with a flexor tendon strain in his left forearm, as Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times explains. Skaggs has already been placed on the 15-day DL, and the team will surely exercise caution with the young starter, as forearm strains have been linked to more significant elbow injuries. Though the Halos can fill his spot in the immediate term by keeping Hector Santiago in the rotation, the injury leaves even more questions about the team’s overall starting pitching depth. With a two-month pennant race still to come, Los Angeles will likely take a hard look at the market for arms.
  • Before he was dealt to the Nationals, the Orioles made an effort to acquire Indians infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, reports Roch Kubatko of MASN.com. Presumably, Baltimore would have utilized him as the Nationals will, at second base, which indicates some likelihood of the club exploring an alternative over the coming month.
  • Similarly, the Athletics opened pre-deadline conversations with the Phillies regarding Jimmy Rollins, but talks did not progress, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Like the O’s, the A’s could still be looking for a middle-infield addition.
  • After making several deadline deals, the Diamondbacks expect to have more work to do in the coming month, reports Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic. While he is not sure if any deals will be consummated, GM Kevin Towers says he anticipates that claims will be made on several players. Among the possible chips left in Arizona are second baseman Aaron Hill and several relievers, though Towers says it will take an “overpay” to pry loose any of the club’s pen arms, as Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona reports.
  • The Red Sox remain interested in Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo despite adding Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig at the trade deadline, reports WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. While the club is expected to face stiff competition in the bidding, it just held a private workout for Castillo. If he goes to the non-contending Red Sox, it would certainly increase market demand for some of the pricey outfielders who stayed put at the deadline (such as Alex Rios of the Rangers and Marlon Byrd of the Phillies).

Indians Designate Zach McAllister

The Indians have designated right-hander Zach McAllister for assignment, as per a team press release.  Outfielder Tyler Holt has been recalled from Triple-A in a corresponding move.

McAllister has only been designated off the Tribe’s 25-man roster (he’s still on the 40-man) as, since McAllister debuted in the majors more than three years ago, he must be put on optional assignment waivers in order to be sent to Triple-A.

It’s been a tough year for McAllister, who missed over a month with a back injury and has posted a 5.91 ERA, 7.3 K/9 and 2.08 K/BB rate in 14 starts for Cleveland.  Looking at his advanced metrics, McAllister’s 4.04 FIP, 4.27 xFIP and 4.30 SIERA indicate that his real-world ERA has been unluckily inflated thanks to a .322 BABIP and only a 58.6% strand rate.


July Trade Recap: AL Central

As we continue to work through the July deals, division by division (AL East; NL East), let’s turn our attention to the AL Central. First, the deals that went down:

Indians

Royals

Tigers

Twins

White Sox

  • No trades

Synopsis

Trade action in the AL Central was, perhaps, not ultimately surprising yet nonetheless interesting. Detroit pulled off two big swaps, Kansas City largely held firm despite facing only a four-game deficit, Cleveland moved two expiring contracts, and Minnesota sold off a few veterans.

Chicago might have moved some pieces, but in honesty it was far from shocking to see the South Siders stand pat. While shortstop Alexei Ramirez seemed an obvious trade chip at one point, he has cooled off at the plate and the team has a use for him next year. , Alejandro De Aza, or Gordon Beckham might have changed hands, but down years spiked their value. Matt Lindstrom is still rehabbing and John Danks has a very sizable contract (though he drew reported interest), and either could become August trade pieces.

The biggest action, of course, came from a Tigers team with a one-track mind: World Series or bust. GM Dave Dombrowski one-upped the AL West-leading Athletics by adding the game’s best available arm in Price, though he was unable to (jokingly) goad A’s GM Billy Beane into snatching Chris Sale out of the division down the stretch. After taking a look at adding Jon Lester, but being unwilling to part with Smyly to do so, the club instead shipped its young lefty out in perhaps the biggest gambit on a market full of them. Price gives Detroit a fantasy rotation, and could fill the void if Max Scherzer departs via free agency. But the club also gave up a productive center fielder in Jackson without a replacement that would be expected to deliver equivalent production, and also sacrificed future value in Smyly and the young Adames. That came on the heels of moving two good young arms in the Soria deal, making clear that Motown has every hope of landing that elusive title.

That kind of mentality did not hold sway in Kansas City, where GM Dayton Moore saw the deadline pass with mostly minor additions. Frasor is a solid bullpen piece, to be sure, while Hendriks and Kratz add useful depth, but it seems safe to say that the Royals did not opt for an impact acquisition. Though the club has plenty of talent on the farm, trade partners were looking for MLB pieces that Moore was unwilling to give up. Money was also an issue, as ever. One can’t help but feel somewhat underwhelmed, but the fact is that the team likely already pushed itself to the limit when it added James Shields and then paid open-market prices for Jason Vargas and Omar Infante.

Sitting only 2 and a half back of the Royals are the Indians, who also entered the season hoping to contend. But that slippage was enough to draw a sale of two veterans who were destined to hit the open market at season’s end. Masterson had struggled this year anyway, and was still working through a rehab stint, which would have made it difficult for Cleveland to turn down the opportunity to add a quality, fairly advanced prospect in Ramsey. Cabrera, likewise, was converted into future value with Walters, who has seen time at the MLB level this year and offers intriguing pop from the middle infield (or, perhaps, corner outfield). The club was actually looking to make additions to the big league roster, said GM Chris Antonetti, but couldn’t push it across the line.

Finally, the Twins managed to add some young arms to the stable. After picking up Pryor for the just-signed Morales, who did not quite perform to expectations in Minnesota, the club made an opportunistic grab of Milone, who was displaced by a trio of high-profile acquisitions. While Fuld might have been a solid piece during Minnesota’s transition, it is hard to complain with acquiring a cheap and serviceable rotation piece for a guy who was claimed off waivers and spent significant time on the DL. Of course, the Twins could conceivably have been more active, with outfielder Josh Willingham, pitcher Kevin Correia, and the surprising Kurt Suzuki staying in place (and the latter signing a fairly modest extension). But the club did not wish to just give away its veterans, and will instead use Suzuki to break in a young staff in the future while perhaps dangling the other two names in August trade discussions.


Nationals Acquire Asdrubal Cabrera

2:32pm: The Indians are paying the entirety of the $3.33MM remaining on Cabrera’s deal, tweets MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, who says that Cleveland is very high on Walters.

2:21pm: The Nationals have officially announced the acquisition of shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera from the Indians in exchange for  infielder Zach Walters and cash considerations.

Asdrubal Cabrera

The 28-year-old Cabrera is hitting .246/.305/.386 with nine homers and seven steals on the season. While defensive metrics have never liked his glovework at shortstop, his bat is above average for the position, and he could fill in for the Nationals at second base, with Anthony Rendon sliding back over to third base on a full-time basis in the wake of Ryan Zimmerman‘s injury.

Cabrera grades out better in his career at second base than his career at shortstop, albeit in a much smaller sample size (1341 innings at second base). Cabrera has about $3.33MM of this season’s $10MM salary remaining, and he is a free agent at season’s end.

The 24-year-old Walters entered the season as Washington’s No. 14 prospect, per Baseball America. He received a brief promotion to the Majors but didn’t capitalize on his time there, hitting just .205/.279/.462 in 43 plate appearances. While he did belt three homers, he also whiffed 16 times in that small sample. BA praised his raw power but questioned his plate discipline and noted a high number of seemingly careless throwing errors. While he has a chance to stick at shortstop with some offensive upside, BA feels he likely profiles as a utility infielder that can fill in at various positions.

Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer first reported that Cabrera had been traded (Twitter link). MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian added that the Nats were his destination (Twitter link).  Hoynes then tweeted Walters was going to Cleveland, and ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted details on the cash considerations.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Latest On Alex Rios

2:43pm: Nothing is close for the Rangers with Rios or anyone else, tweets Yahoo’s Jeff Passan.

12:24pm: The Rangers and Giants are in “ongoing” trade discussions for Rios, tweets FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi.

11:29am: The Mariners want Rios, tweets Rosenthal, but the Rangers are “closer elsewhere” in trade talks.

THURSDAY, 11:08am: The Royals, Giants and Mariners are all in the mix for Rios, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. To a lesser degree, he adds, the Reds and Indians are in the mix. The Yankees aren’t heavily involved at this time, says Heyman.

WEDNESDAY, 2:03pm: Trade talks for Rios are “gaining traction” in several places, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

8:04am: The Rangers are willing to eat some of the remaining salary on Alex Rios‘ deal, but talks could still go down to the wire, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Rosenthal hears that interest from several Rios suitors — including the Indians, Giants, Reds and Royals — has waned of late.

At least four teams were said to be in on Rios over the weekend, but there’s been little chatter regarding the right fielder since that time. The 33-year-old is batting a strong .305/.334/.430 this season, but his power has declined in 2014. Rios has just four homers on the season after belting 18 last year and 25 in 2012. He’s owed roughly $4.23MM of his $12.5MM salary for the remainder of the 2014 season, plus a $1MM buyout on a $13.5MM option for the 2015 campaign.

The Rangers have already dealt Jason Frasor to the Royals and Joakim Soria to the Tigers, and given Rios’ contractual situation, he’s a logical trade chip as well. However, the Rangers seem unwilling to listen to offers on Adrian Beltre and Yu Darvish — both of whom they’re hoping will contribute to a contending club in 2015 once their roster is back to full health.


New York Notes: Yanks, Byrd, Murphy, Colon

With the trade deadline less than three hours away, here are some notes out of the Big Apple…

Earlier Updates

  • The Yankees aren’t focusing on any major trades, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. They’re looking for an upgrade over Ichiro Suzuki in right field — Marlon Byrd is still possible, he notes — as well as some help for the bullpen.
  • The Nationals have called the Mets to express interest in Daniel Murphy, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but a trade between the division rivals is unlikely. Rosenthal noted earlier today that Washington also has interest in Asdrubal Cabrera.
  • The Orioles have checked in on Bartolo Colon, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, the Mets aren’t sure whether or not they’ll trade him at this time yet. The Mets have signaled a definite willingness to move Colon, though GM Sandy Alderson isn’t one to simply dump salary in trades, so based on Heyman’s writing, it seems that the O’s probably haven’t made any form of significant offer.
  • There’s no traction between the Royals and the Mets for Colon, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Martino adds that barring a change, the Mets don’t seem likely to be active today, but he’d be surprised if Colon were with the Mets in 2015.
  • Sherman also hears that the Mets are likely to stand pat today (Twitter link). The Mets feel that a better market will develop for Colon in the offseason, when he’ll have just one year and $11MM remaining on his contract.