Cleveland Indians Rumors

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

Minor Moves: Marcum, Givens, Loe

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.

  • The Indians have announced that righty Shaun Marcum has cleared waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Columbus. The 33-year-old Marcum has pitched 35 innings for the Indians this season, posting a 5.40 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. The team designated him for assignment earlier this week.
  • The Orioles have announced that they’ve selected the contract of righty Mychal Givens. In addition, the Orioles activated Kevin Gausman (shoulder tendinitis from the 15-day DL, optioned righties Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright to Triple-A Norfolk, and transferred righty Jason Garcia (also with shoulder tendinitis) to the 60-day DL. The Orioles drafted Givens in the second round in 2009 as an infielder, but he transitioned to pitching for the 2013 season. He struggled with control during his first two seasons on the mound (perhaps understandably, given his background), but he’s blossomed in the Double-A Bowie bullpen this season, posting a 1.60 ERA, 12.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 39 1/3 innings there.
  • The Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League have announced that they’ve signed righty Kameron Loe. The 33-year-old pitched for three Triple-A teams in 2014, posting a 7.51 ERA, 6.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 38 1/3 innings of relief. He has a 4.49 ERA, 5.6 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in parts of nine big-league seasons with the Rangers, Brewers, Mariners, Cubs and Braves, last appearing in the Majors in 2013.

Draft Signings: Marshall, Hillman, Blankenhorn, Davila

It’s time to get caught up on some draft signings. Slot values courtesy of Baseball America.

  • The Giants have agreed to a well-above-slot, $750K bonus with fourth-round pick Mac Marshall, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. You might remember that Marshall was taken in the late rounds last year by the Astros, who fell short of a rumored last-minute attempt at a deal with him as they tried to work things out with Brady Aiken. Marshall had been set to play for LSU, but ultimately ended up in Junior College so that he could re-enter the draft.
  • Second-rounder Juan Hillman inked with the Indians, the club announced. The deal is for $825K, per Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer (via Twitter). Cleveland also announced several other signings, including third-rounder Mark Mathias and fourth-round pick Tyler Krieger. MLB.com rated Hillman the 52nd-best player available, noting that the prep lefty is the son of long-time big leaguer Tom Gordon and half-brother of Dee Gordon. ESPN.com’s Keith Law had the highest grade on Hillman, ranking him 31st heading into the draft on the basis of his excellent feel and command at a young age.
  • Twins third-rounder Travis Blankenhorn gets a $650K bonus, Callis tweets. The high school third baseman was taken 80th overall, which came with a $754K slot allotment. Baseball America rated Blankenhorn 75th on its board, citing his athleticism, nice swing, and overall solid tools. Minnesota also added fourth-round pick Trey Cabbage for an above-slot $760K bonus, also per a Callis tweet. His signing was previously reported, but not the bonus amount, which lands well above the slot value of $517,900.
  • The Royals went over $300K above slot ($431,100) to sign high school lefty Garrett Davila, Callis tweets. He receives a $746K bonus after entering the draft rated within Law’s top 100 list. His fastball is not a very impressive offerin at present, but he has an above-average curve and still has some growing to do.
  • Javier Medina, the third-round pick of the Rockies, gets $740K to forego his commitment to the University of Arizona, Callis reports on Twitter. The 77th overall pick came with a $789,700 allotment, so Colorado will pick up some savings to add a pitcher who shows more feel than pure stuff, per Baseball America.
  • Pirates third-round selection Casey Hughston lands a $700K bonus that lands $107,300 above the slot value, per Callis (via Twitter). The Alabama outfielder has good all-around tools in addition to plus raw power, MLB.com wrote in raking him 95th among available players. Pittsburgh fourth-rounder Jacob Taylor, a righty from Pearl River Community College, has agreed to a $500K bonus, Callis tweets. That represents a $60.6K bump over the slot value for the 127th overall pick.
  • The third-round pick of the Tigers, Dallas Baptist pitcher Drew Smith, announced that he has signed (h/t to MLB.com’s Jason Beck). Callis reports on Twitter that the live-armed college righty will take home the slot value of $575,800.
  • The Braves have agreed to a $550K deal with third-round pick Anthony Guardado, Callis tweets. That signing saves the club $106,300 against the slot value of the 89th pick. Callis calls the high school righty a true pop-up prospect, and indeed he did not receive much pre-draft attention.
  • Fourth round pick Demi Orimoloye will sign for a $450K bonus, according to Callis (on Twitter), just shy of the $456,600 allotment for the 121st pick. The Canadian outfielder (who was born in Nigeria) drew rave reviews from BA, which rated him 41st heading into the draft based upon his loud tools and tall ceiling. There’s a lot of polishing that needs to be done, it seems, but Orimoloye looks to be a nice risk for the Brewers at this price tag.
  • Phillies fifth-round pick Bailey Falter, a projectable lefty, gets an above-slot $420K bonus, Callis tweets. Philly took him 144th overall, which came with a $373,100 slot value.
  • The 11th-round pick of the Mets, lefty Jake Simon, has agreed to a $400K bonus, Callis tweets. $300K of that money will count against New York’s overall pool, as any amount over $100K does for players taken after the tenth round.

Trade Notes: Taylor, Cueto, Cards, Indians, Rangers, White Sox

The Nationals and Athletics have matched up on trade deadline rentals (and other deals) with some frequency of late, and the clubs have reportedly discussed both Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard this year. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports, nothing has gained significant traction as of yet. Oakland has expressed interest in young Nats outfielder Michael Taylor, who has found himself playing a significant role on the club this year as a fill-in for Denard Span (to start the year) and Jayson Werth (currently on the DL). The A’s have also asked about the Nats’ young arms, per Rosenthal, who argues that the Taylor ask suggests that Oakland GM Billy Beane could be looking to “operate as both a buyer and seller” this summer. From my perspective, looking to add an unpolished but big-league-ready and controllable piece like Taylor is to be expected, whether or not Beane thinks his club has enough time to get back in contention this season. I’d also add that the Nats seem unlikely to move Taylor with Span set to hit free agency after the season.

Here are some more notes on the trade market:

  • The Yankees are getting a good look at Reds starter Johnny Cueto, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. New York has sent a scout to watch both of Cueto’s last two starts, per the report. Of course, they surely are not alone in dedicating attention to the player who could be the best arm available this July.
  • Though he doesn’t call for a trade directly, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch breaks down the flaws in the Cardinals bench alignment. In particular, utility infielder Pete Kozma has struggled badly at the plate for some time. And the team’s resources have been stretched somewhat with Mark Reynolds needed to fill in for the injured Matt Adams. Certainly, as the team looks to fortify itself for a stretch run and hopeful post-season berth, reserve players could be on the wish list.
  • The Indians remain in a somewhat uncertain position in a tough AL Central; entering today’s action, the team remains four games under .500 and eight back in the division. In an appearance on MLB Network Radio (Twitter link), Cleveland GM Chris Antonetti certainly sounded more like a buyer. “We’re still learning about our team,” he said. “We’re still trying to find out where we’ll need to supplement.”
  • In his own recent MLB Network Radio spot several days ago (via Twitter), Rangers GM Jon Daniels explained that he is preparing to take a hard look at the trade market. “If someone out there can help us, we have to be open-minded,” said Daniels. “We’ll evaluate our own guys first and go from there.” As both of these executive quotes indicate, one somewhat underappreciated factor in the slow onset of serious trades is the fact that many clubs are interested in obtaining an extended look at multiple internal options — all while seeing how other teams’ players are performing — before deciding whether to part with assets.
  • The White Sox are in an even tougher spot than their division rivals from Cleveland, but GM Rick Hahn emphasized that the team is still focused on crawling back into contention, as Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports. “The organization still absolutely believes in this team,” Hahn said. “The focus on the ballgames and the belief we will win ballgames is there.” Of course, as Levine rightly notes, the best way to get back in the hunt — improved performance — is also the optimal means of building trade value. Hahn went on to explain that he had no interest in giving public insight into the team’s strategic thinking. “Do we have thoughts on potential moves to reinvigorate the 2015 club and put us in a better position to contend going forward? Absolutely,” said Hahn. “As for the timing or the nature of those moves, that is not something that we will lay out in advance.”
  • ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark lays out his top ten targets, rating Cole Hamels of the Phillies as the biggest trade piece. One executive tells Stark that Hamels has probably increased his value over the first few months of the season, though of course he is out right now with what is hoped to be a relatively minor hamstring issue. Teams that have had contact with the Phils are indicating that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is still insisting on young players that possible buyers have said they’re not willing to move. One source tells Stark that a “more creative” approach will be needed to get something done. Amaro has obviously taken a lot of heat for his handling of the team’s trade chips, though at this point it is probably best to withhold judgment; after all, Hamels is a somewhat unique trade commodity given his large but manageable contract, and a bidding war remains a plausible scenario.


Indians Designate Shaun Marcum For Assignment

The Indians have designated veteran righty Shaun Marcum for assignment, the club announced. Fellow right-hander Jeff Manship will be called up, taking Marcum’s 40-man spot. Southpaw Kyle Crockett has been recalled from Triple-A as well, with infielder Zach Walters headed to Columbus in his place.

This is the second time that Marcum has been put into DFA limbo by Cleveland this year. He accepted an outright assignment the last time around. A veteran of nine MLB seasons, Marcum had not thrown at the big league level since 2013.

The 33-year-old has worked to a 5.40 ERA this year with 7.7 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 over 35 innings. He’s been hurt by the long ball, permitting 2.3 long balls per nine on a 20% homer-to-flyball rate. But at least some indicators show promise: Marcum does carry a 4.22 xFIP and 3.97 SIERA.


Jhoulys Chacin Opts Out Of Indians Contract

Right-hander Jhoulys Chacin has opted out of his minor league contract with the Indians, the team announced. The former Rockies rotation stalwart was surprisingly released late in Spring Training and inked a minors pact with Cleveland in April.

Still just 27 years of age, Chacin pitched relatively well with Cleveland’s top minor league affiliate, posting a 3.21 ERA in 42 innings out of the Columbus rotation. However, he also continued a trend of diminished strikeouts, averaging just 5.4 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 with the Clippers. Chacin at one time looked to be a budding strikeout artist, whiffing 138 batters in 137 1/3 innings of 3.28 ERA ball with the Rockies’ big league club in 2010. Since that time, he’s averaged just 6.2 K/9 in the Majors.

All that said, Chacin would seem to represent a reasonable gamble for a club looking for options at the back end of its rotation. He’s been relatively successful at Triple-A this year and could be controlled for the 2016 season via arbitration in the event that he experiences a turnaround at the Major League level. (Chacin entered the season with five year, 12 days of big league service, so even jumping directly onto a big league roster would leave him about 50 days shy of six full years of MLB service time.)

It’s easy to say that a contending club in need of a fourth or fifth starter might prefer a more certain option than Chacin, but in a market with few sellers, that’s not necessarily something that one can easily acquire. Buyers are at a disadvantage on the current trade market, with only the Phillies and Brewers looking like definitive sellers. The A’s, White Sox and Reds may eventually join that group of clubs, but Cincinnati seems likely to wait until after it hosts the All-Star Game, and the Sox and A’s have seemingly yet to throw in the towel despite lackluster starts.

That lack of selling teams stands to benefit Chacin, in my eyes. As a pitcher with a reasonably sound Major League track record and some recent success at the Triple-A level, I’d think Chacin will draw some interest from contenders as well as rebuilding clubs like the Phillies that are simply looking to plus some quality innings into their rotation.


Anthony Swarzak Signs With KBO’s Doosan Bears

Right-hander Anthony Swarzak has signed a contract with the Doosan Bears of the Korea Baseball Organization, the Bears announced (Twitter link in Korean). The 29-year-old Swarzak, a client of Jet Sports Management, had been pitching with the Indians. Cleveland announced this afternoon that they have sold his contract to Doosan (Twitter link).

Swarzak will bring to the Bears six years of Major League experience, nearly all of which came with the Twins. A former second-round draft pick, Swarzak spent parts of five seasons in Minnesota, working both out of the rotation and out of the bullpen. Formerly ranked by Baseball America as the No. 100 prospect in all of baseball, Swarzak didn’t establish himself as a starter but was arguably the game’s best long man in 2013 when he worked to a 2.91 ERA and led all Major League relievers with 96 innings pitched.

A down season in 2014 led the Twins to non-tender Swarzak, however, and he latched on with the Indians on a minor league deal. After a strong Spring Training, Swarzak made the Indians’ roster and pitched quite well for them in 13 1/3 innings this year, allowing five earned runs with 13 strikeouts against four walks. Despite that showing, he was designted for assignment and outrighted in May.

All told, Swarzak has a career 4.45 ERA with 5.6 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 41.7 percent ground-ball rate in 453 Major League innings. He’ll now head overseas to Korea, where he’ll replace former big leaguer Yunesky Maya on the team’s roster. The 33-year-old Maya has an 8.17 ERA this season despite having thrown a no-hitter early in the 2015 season (h/t: Sung Min Kim of River Ave. Blues on Twitter). This is the second time in recent months that the Bears have shown an interest in Swarzak, as the team also reportedly made a run at him this offseason prior to his signing with Cleveland.


Indians To Promote Francisco Lindor

The Indians are expected to promote shortstop prospect Francisco Lindor, tweets Yahoo’s Jeff Passan. He will join the team tomorrow.

"JunThe 21-year-old is widely viewed as a top 10 prospect. He’s ranked fourth by Baseball Prospectus, sixth by ESPN’s Kieth Law, and ninth by Baseball America. FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel is the sole guru to rank him outside the top 10 (14th). Lindor was the eighth overall pick of the 2011 Rule 4 draft.

The switch-hitter slashed .279/.346/.398 in 259 Triple-A plate appearances. Unlike other notable prospect promotions like Kris Bryant, Joey Gallo, Carlos Correa, or Byron Buxton, Lindor’s bat isn’t expected to be special in the near future (he could certainly develop). He’s viewed as a high contact, gap-to-gap hitter, but it’s his speed and defense that ooze potential.

The decision to promote the youngster is not surprising. The team recently demoted Jose Ramirez after he hit just .180/.247/.240. Cleveland would probably like to move Mike Aviles (.284/.344/.405) back into a reserve role. He’s viewed as a modest defensive liability at shortstop and can also be used to spell Giovanny Urshela and Jason Kipnis. Lindor should add stability to a sometimes shaky Indians defense.

Like the promotion of Buxton by the Twins earlier today, Lindor is unlikely to qualify as a Super Two. He’ll remain club controlled through 2021 at the very least. Lindor is reportedly battling some minor injuries. Expect the club to handle their top prospect carefully.


Central Notes: Lindor, Price, Cubs, Lynn

If the Super Two threshold was ever a factor keeping top Indians prospect Francisco Lindor out of the big leagues, it does not seem to be anymore, Zack Meisel of the Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. The threshold has likely passed, and teams have promoted top prospects like Carlos Correa and Joey Gallo in recent weeks, but Lindor remains with Triple-A Columbus. Lindor is hitting .279/.346/.398, including .400/.429/.600 in June. The Indians, meanwhile, have undergone upheaval at the shortstop position, with Mike Aviles replacing the struggling Jose Ramirez. Here are more quick notes from the Central divisions.

  • David Price and the Cubs will be great fits for one another when Price becomes a free agent next winter, Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago writes. Price’s former manager Joe Maddon is now in Chicago, and Price says he finds a young team like the Cubs appealing. “They have a lot of guys they can control for a long time,” he says. “It’s very similar to when I first came up in Tampa. Just a bunch of young guys out there having fun. That’s what it’s about. You have to be able to have fun. I don’t want to win and not have fun.”
  • Cardinals starter Lance Lynn has headed to the disabled list with a forearm strain, and the team has promoted Tyler Lyons to take his place, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. GM John Mozeliak says Lynn should be able to return after the minimum 15 days, as Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. “A little forearm strain, as it looks right now, should be a normal 15 days and make sure we get everything calmed down — make sure it’s not something that flares up as the year goes on and I don’t try to pitch through something and make it worse,” Lynn says. Lynn’s injury is, however, another blow to a franchise that also has Adam Wainwright, Matt Adams, Matt Holliday and Jordan Walden on the disabled list.

AL Notes: Royals, Holland, Harrison, Urshela

While much of the focus around the game remains on the ongoing draft, let’s take a peek in at the latest from the American League:

  • The Royals will soon have to make a call between catchers Drew Butera and Erik Kratz, Jeffrey Flanagan writes for MLB.com. Neither of the reserve backstops can be optioned, and Kratz is nearing the end of a rehab assignment. “If I were to handicap both of them, I would say Butera is the better defensive player and Kratz is the better offensive player,” said skipper Ned Yost, who explained that he had yet to speak with GM Dayton Moore about the decision.
  • The Rangers rotation has held together well enough, and has received a nice boost from Chi Chi Gonzalez, but nevertheless remains an area to watch as the team continues to play solid baseball. Texas may well look to add in the rotation, particularly since the club now seems unlikely to welcome back lefty Derek Holland until right around the trade deadline. Holland has not progressed as well as hoped from his sub-scapular strain, GM Jon Daniels told reporters including Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link). It now looks like he’ll be out until at least late July or even into August, per Daniels.
  • In more positive news, fellow Rangers southpaw Matt Harrison has managed to return to the hill and is throwing in the low-90s, as Kevin Sherrington writes for the Dallas Morning News. The results haven’t been there for Harrison in his work thus far at Triple-A — he’s allowed eight earned in ten innings — but that is secondary to his overall health at this point given the serious back issues he has dealt with. Harrison still has work to do, clearly, but he could bolster the Texas rotation by early July. He’s owed $13MM annually this year and the next two, while the team holds a $13.25MM option ($2MM buyout) for 2018.
  • As expected, the Indians have officially called up third baseman Giovanny Urshela, a 23-year-old who’ll see his first big league action. Urshela, who entered the year as the system’s 11th-best prospect in the eyes of Baseball America, has slashed .275/.301/.475 in his 83 Triple-A plate appearances this year. He’s said to be more advanced defensively than at the plate, but has significant raw power and solid contact ability (though he does not take many free passes).

AL Central Notes: Price, Indians, Lindor, Santana

In an interview with Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (video link), Tigers ace David Price discussed his lasting connection with the Vanderbilt baseball program, the absence of Victor Martinez in his team’s lineup, his early picks for the AL Cy Young and, perhaps most interestingly to MLBTR readers, his upcoming free agency. Price says that free agency hasn’t been on his mind very often throughout the year to this point, as he tries to focus on the season at hand. Price adds that winning “takes precedent over everything else” when thinking about where he will play after 2015, but he feels the culture of the team will be important as well. “I want to have fun,” said Price. “There are some teams that are just a no-fun zone. I don’t care how much money I’m making. To me, I couldn’t imagine waking up and [not wanting to go to the field]. I couldn’t handle that. I’ll quit before that happens.” The 2012 Cy Young winner also reiterated that he wants a chance to win both immediately and long-term.

More from the AL Central…

  • Zack Meisel of Cleveland.com looks at the Indians’ recent decision to option Lonnie Chisenhall and Jose Ramirez in favor of Zach Walters and Giovanny Urshela. Ramirez’s demotion was long overdue, says Meisel, but a lack of alternatives in the Majors delayed the decision. Meisel notes that the clock is ticking on a promotion for top prospect Francisco Lindor, and he also wonders if Chisenhall might’ve “burned through his last chance” with the Indians after another demotion.
  • Via MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter link), Indians GM Chris Antonetti said that Lindor was, in fact, a consideration to join the big league roster. However, Lindor has been bothered by some minor hand and core issues and is not currently at 100 percent. As Meisel noted in his piece, Lindor is slashing .295/.363/.446 over the past month after a slow start, so it’s fair to wonder just how much longer it will be before the consensus Top 10 prospect joins Cleveland’s big league roster. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets that he gets the sense that the team wants to see Lindor consistently perform at the Triple-A level before a promotion.
  • The Twins have optioned struggling shortstop Danny Santana to Triple-A Rochester and recalled DH Kennys Vargas in his place. Both switch-hitters were in Minnesota’s Opening Day lineup, but each endured struggles. Santana received a longer leash than Vargas, who was optioned in early May, but the team seems to have run out of patience for the time being. Santana batted just .218/.235/.291 just one year after hitting .319/.353/.472 as a rookie. He’ll work on rediscovering his stroke and also cutting down on the errors at shortstop, but I’d imagine that with Jorge Polanco performing well at Double-A and being a more well-regarded defender, there’s a chance that Polanco could leapfrog Santana. As for Vargas, the hulking slugger hit .308/.403/.519 with three homers in 16 Triple-A games. He should get another chance to hold down Minnesota’s DH spot for the duration of the season. However, Twins DHs are hitting just .249/.308/.328, so if Vargas struggles, that may be an area they consider short-term upgrades this summer. In fact, I could envision the Twins looking for help at either of those positions in July, if they hang in near the top of the division.