Cleveland Indians Rumors

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

Minor Moves: Maxwell, Gearrin, Turley, Tigers

Here are the latest minor league transactions from around baseball….

  • The Giants signed outfielder Justin Maxwell, righty Cory Gearrin and lefty Nik Turley to minor league contracts, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports (Twitter link).  Maxwell received significant playing time with the Astros and Royals in 2012-13, but he posted only a .397 OPS over 45 PA in 2014 as Kansas City moved on to other outfield options.  He elected to become a free agent in October.  Gearrin posted a 4.28 ERA, 8.8 K/9, and 2.06 K/BB rate in 69 1/3 IP out of the Braves bullpen from 2011-13 and missed all of 2014 due to Tommy John surgery.  Turley, a 50th-round draft pick for the Yankees in 2008, has a 3.41 ERA, 8.3 K/9 and 2.1 K/BB rate over 551 1/3 career minor league innings in New York’s system.
  • Also from Eddy, the Tigers signed right-handers Rafael Dolis and Alberto Cabrera to minor league contracts.  The two righties are both 26 years old, both originally signed amateur contracts out of the Dominican Republic with the Cubs and both last pitched in the majors in 2013.  Cabrera has a 5.20 ERA over 27 2/3 IP in the bigs, while Dolis has a 5.48 ERA over 44 1/3 IP.  (Dolis spent last season with the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate.)
  • The Rockies signed left-hander Buddy Boshers to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports.  Boshers’ Major League resume consists of 15 1/3 relief innings for the Angels in 2013, and the 2008 fourth-rounder has a 3.67 ERA, 2.43 K/BB rate and 448 strikeouts over 446 1/3 IP over seven seasons in the Angels’ farm system.
  • Right-hander Anthony Bass has elected to become a free agent, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports (Twitter link).  Bass was outrighted off the Astros’ 40-man roster last month.  As Drellich notes, Bass was hampered by an intercostal strain in 2014 and only pitched 27 innings for the Astros, posting a 6.33 ERA and an equal amount of strikeouts (seven) and walks.
  • The Indians signed catcher Adam Moore to a minor league deal that contains a Spring Training invitation, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter link).  Moore appeared in 60 games with the Mariners in 2010 but has since appeared in only 20 Major League games scattered over the last four seasons with Seattle, Kansas City and San Diego.  The Padres outrighted Moore off their 40-man roster last month.
  • The Angels signed left-handers Adam Wilk and Edgar Ibarra, the team announced (via Twitter).  Wilk, 26, appeared in eight games with the Tigers in 2011-12 and has since pitched in South Korea and for the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate.  Ibarra is only 25 years old but already has nine years of pro experience, posting a 4.13 ERA, 2.03 K/BB and 7.8 K/9 over 654 innings in the Twins’ minor league system.

Indians Optimistic Of Completing Brandon Moss Trade

10:00pm: If the trade gets done, it will likely be a one-for-one swap sending a player that is not on Cleveland’s 40-man roster to the A’s, reports Hoynes. That would rule out Ramirez and Gonzalez and indicate that Wendle could be the return for Oakland.

DEC. 5, 2:05pm: The two sides have yet to reach a deal but have discussed shortstops Jose Ramirez and Erik Gonzalez in addition to Wendle, reports Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area. Presumably, only one of that grouping would head to Oakland in a potential trade.

10:25pm: The A’s are interested in Indians second base prospect Joe Wendle, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Wendle hit .265/.326/.425 in 396 plate appearances while battling injury. He spent most of the season at Double-A. Meanwhile, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets that negotiations should reach a conclusion on Friday, one way or another.

DEC. 4, 5:13pm: The Indians “are guardedly optimistic” that they can complete a deal for Moss, tweets Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

DEC. 3, 9:01pm: The Indians are not the only club looking into adding Moss, MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports on Twitter. A move does not appear to be imminent, she adds.

3:48pm: The Athletics are “listening” to the Indians on left-handed slugger Brandon Moss, John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports on Twitter. Moss, 31, is capable of playing first base or the corner outfield, and is an obvious DH candidate as well.

For the Indians, a run at Moss makes sense, particularly if the team views him as a plausible candidate to spend regular time in the outfield. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams explained in his offseason outlook for Cleveland, the team could add a new outfield piece while utilizing Nick Swisher in a pure DH role. Alternatively, if Swisher himself were to be moved, then Moss might make sense as a hitting-only player.

Moss appeals due both to his recent success and his controlled salary (a projected $7.1MM in his second-to-last year of arbitration eligibility). He took a step back at the plate last year, due in part to hip issues that were addressed by offseason surgery, but he was still well above-average. His three-year slash line stands at .254/.340/.504, good for a 135 OPS+, with Moss contributing 76 home runs over 1,381 plate appearances.


Free Agent Notes: Top Pitchers, Rios, Royals, Everth, Astros

With the Winter Meetings nearly upon us, ESPN’s Jayson Stark spoke to nine baseball executives regarding the “Big Three” starting pitchers on this year’s free agent market — Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields — and asked when and where they will sign. While answers as to when Scherzer will sign varied, there was a much tighter window on Lester, with all nine believing he will sign between Dec. 8 and Dec. 13. The execs polled by Stark feel that Shields’ market is tied so closely to Lester that he will sign within two weeks of Lester and perhaps even as soon as next week’s Winter Meetings. Many identified Shields as a fallback for teams that miss on Lester. Execs picked Lester to sign with the usual suspects at this point: the Red Sox, Cubs, Giants or Dodgers. Interestingly, Scherzer’s landing spot was predicted to be the Yankees, Nationals, Cubs or Tigers, by the five who were willing to wager a guess on that outcome.

A few more notes pertaining to free agency…

  • The MarinersRoyals, and Indians have all checked in on Alex Rios, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Rios, who joined the Boras Corporation earlier this offseason, has had a fairly quiet market to this point, though one would expect interest to pick up now that Nelson Cruz, Torii Hunter and Yasmany Tomas are off the market.
  • The Royals are looking for a right fielder and a starting pitcher but likely only have the available funds to make a “significant” investment in one of the two areas, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The Royals may have to bargain shop for the other, he notes. Kansas City has invested a modest amount of its available funds to the bullpen in the past week, re-signing righties Jason Frasor and Luke Hochevar. However, it’s at least worth noting that Hochevar’s contract reportedly contains performance incentives tied to starting (though it also contains relief incentives).
  • Though the Mets are in need of a shortstop, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin writes that recently non-tendered Padres speedster Everth Cabrera is not a consideration. Though he’s talented and has twice led the NL in stolen bases, Cabrera has a good deal of off-field issues on his record, including a 50-game PED suspension and more recent legal issues, as he’s been charged with resisting arrest after being stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana. (Cabrera plead not guilty to those charges today, per the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Jeff Sanders.)
  • Lefty reliever Craig Breslow is drawing significant interest, but his timetable to sign is currently dependent on the rest of the relief market, tweets WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. Breslow is coming off a down season but has a strong track record. Interest in Breslow and other relievers could intensify now that Andrew Miller is off the board, I would think.
  • Though the Astros missed out on Miller even after offering him more money than the Yankees did, they’re still on the hunt for relievers, tweets Heyman. Houston remains interested in David Robertson, Sergio Romo and others.


AL Notes: Donaldson, Moss, Markakis, Tigers, Twins, Smoak

Athletics GM Billy Beane firmly rejected the recently-suggested idea that some kind of tension between he and Josh Donaldson played any role in the latter’s recent trade, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. “It is so absurd to respond further is to give it credibility,” said Beane. We’ll take a closer look at Oakland on today’s podcast, which features beat reporter Jane Lee of MLB.com.

Here’s more from the American League:

  • The Athletics are “going to trade Brandon Moss,” an executive told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark last night (Twitter link). We heard yesterday that the Indians were making a run at the slugger, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the pursuit continues today. Of course, as Lee reported last night (via Twitter), there are other teams looking into Moss.
  • Lingering concerns over neck issues may have played a role in the Orioles‘ decision not to top the Braves’ offer to Nick Markakis, Rosenthal reports. Markakis has been quite durable over the last two seasons since being diagnosed with a “small disc herniation,” but of course he has also failed to deliver much pop in that time.
  • Nevertheless, the Orioles did have the second-highest offer on the table to Markakis, per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (Twitter link). He hears that Baltimore offered four years and $40MM.
  • The Tigers are receiving strong interest in David Price and Rick Porcello, Rosenthal reports (links to Twitter). What Detroit would ask for in return for these starters remains a mystery, Rosenthal adds. Of course, there are several other big-name, 5+ service time pitchers who could potentially be had, and Rosenthal notes that all are still “in play.” He adds that the primary appeal of such arms is their generally below-market salary and the achievement of a year of exclusive negotiating rights. Implicit, of course, is that teams are interested not only in a reasonable hope of achieving excess value on the contract, but also in doing so without exposure to the massive downside risk of a longer-term deal.
  • The Twins will turn their attention to the pitching staff during the Winter Meetings, reports MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger. When asked what the team’s priority is, GM Terry Ryan left little doubt how he feels: “Pitching is, and I don’t think there’s any question. We’ve had our struggles on the mound, so we’ll continue to look at pitching first.”
  • Justin Smoak left money on the table to join the Blue Jays, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports. Agent Dustin Bledsoe told Nicholson-Smith that his client wanted the chance at everyday playing time at first more than the possibility of increasing his guarantee next year.

2014-15 American League Non-Tenders

Major League clubs have until 11pm CT tonight to tender contracts to players for the 2015 season. We’ll run down the list of American League non-tenders here, and update it as reports come in. Remember that you can track all of the action using MLBTR’s Non-Tender tracker, and we offer a full list of non-tender candidates (in the estimation of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes). Also important for reference is the set of arbitration salary projections from MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz. Click here for an explanation of the process, and be sure to check out this piece featuring some interesting observations from Tim regarding non-tender considerations.

  • Slade Heathcott, Jose Campos, and David Huff have all been non-tendered by the Yankees, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter.
  • The Twins have tendered contracts to all arb-eligible players, per MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (Twitter link).
  • Third baseman Carlos Rivero is the only non-tender for the Mariners, the club announced. Rivero was not yet arbitration eligible.
  • The Astros have tendered contracts to all arb-eligible players, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports on Twitter.
  • The Royals have non-tendered lefty Francisley Bueno, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports on Twitter. He was not yet eligible for arbitration.
  • As expected, the Tigers have offered arbitration to all eligible players, Anthony Fench of the Detroit Free Press tweets.
  • The Athletics have declined to offer arbitration to Kyle Blanks and Andrew Brown, the team announced. Both had previously been designated for assignment. Oakland will retain control over the remainder of its eligible players, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • As with several other clubs, the Rays will proceed without any non-tenders, the club announced (per a tweet from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times).
  • Likewise, the Orioles have tendered contracts to each of their eleven arb-eligible players, the team announced.
  • The Indians have tendered contracts to all five eligible players, per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (via Twitter). Cleveland had a fairly straightforward group. Indeed, Dierkes did not list any players as reasonable NT candidates.
  • Scott Snodgress and Scott Carroll have been non-tendered by the White Sox, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com tweets. Both players were pre-arbitration eligible, meaning that Chicago could have renewed them at the MLB minimum.
  • The Red Sox have non-tendered third baseman Juan Francisco but will otherwise tender contracts to all eligible players, the club announced (h/t to Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com, via Twitter). Francisco had already been designated for assignment, making this one of the day’s least surprising moves.

Quick Hits: A’s, Rockies, Morales, Albers

With the Winter Meetings just a week away, MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince names the top ten Hot Stove storylines heading into December. How the top-tier starting pitcher market shakes out heads the list, according to Castrovince, who notes the trade market for the likes of Cole Hamels, Jordan Zimmermann, and Jeff Samardzija will heat up once free agents Jon Lester and Max Scherzer sign. Among Castrovince’s other top headlines this month are whether the Braves trade Justin Upton and how the Red Sox and Dodgers deal with their surplus of outfielders.

Elsewhere in baseball on the final day of November:

  • After A’s GM Billy Beane signed Billy Butler to a $30MM deal and traded third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com isn’t sure what the plan is in Oakland.
  • The best way for the Rockies to become contenders is for Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki to be healthy and productive, but it would be daring for GM Jeff Bridich to trade the duo in search of salary relief to address areas of concern, opines MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby.
  • The market for Kendrys Morales has been quiet to date with only the Indians being linked to the free agent DH. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman tweets, besides Cleveland, the Rangers and Royals are also taking a look at Morales while the Mariners and Blue Jays are possibilities, as well.
  • Left-handed starter Andrew Albers recently became a free agent and has drawn interest from a number of big league clubs, an industry source told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Albers became a free agent when South Korea’s Hanwha Eagles declined the 2015 option on his one-year deal. The Canadian pitched to a 5.84 ERA in 146 1/3 innings, though he did make 27 starts and led his team with 102 strikeouts. BN-S writes Albers appears to be seeking a split contract with incentives.

AL Notes: Athletics, Red Sox, Indians, Miller

The Athletics will keep making moves because that’s the way Billy Beane has always done business, and because their situation forces them to, Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News writes. The team’s most popular players are the ones who have the most value, and the players with the most value are the best candidates to be traded, because it’s those deals that set the A’s up for the future and help them avoid tight financial spots. That’s one reason the A’s had Josh Donaldson — who they traded to the Blue Jays last night — in the first place, having acquired him when they traded away Rich Harden in 2008. The Athletics have picked up the pace with their trading recently, and the result is “a bit like day trading on the stock market,” but that’s unlikely to change unless the A’s get a new stadium. Here are more notes from the American League.

  • The Red Sox want starting pitching and the Indians have it, but that doesn’t make it likely that Cleveland would trade Danny Salazar or Trevor Bauer to Boston for an outfielder, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes. The Red Sox want pitching, but they would likely want more star power, and the Indians aren’t likely to want to deal Salazar or Bauer for one year of, for example, Yoenis Cespedes.
  • Mark Rodgers, the agent for Andrew Miller, says his client is advancing toward a decision, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets. The Red Sox are one of at least ten teams who have interest in Miller. Miller reportedly has at least two three-year offers, making it likely it will take four years to sign him.

AL Central Links: Masterson, Ryan, LaRoche

Here’s the latest from around the AL Central…

  • The White Sox and Tigers have expressed interest in Justin Masterson, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, meaning that all five AL Central clubs have at least checked in on the free agent righty.  Outside of this division, Masterson’s long list of suitors also includes the Braves, Cubs, Red Sox, Giants and Marlins.
  • The Indians touched base with Masterson early in the offseason but “haven’t shown a lot of interest” since, Hoynes writes.
  • In an interview with Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter links here), Twins GM Terry Ryan said his team “could use a right handed bat in the outfield. We’re rather young here especially in the outfield.”  Of course, the Twins have been connected to a right-handed hitting veteran in Torii Hunter, who recently said that he’d had numerous conversations with Ryan.  Minnesota is one of at least 10 teams who have shown interest in Hunter’s services this offseason.  Earlier today on MLBTR, Jeff Todd outlined Hunter’s free agent profile.
  • On the Twins‘ search for pitching, Ryan said that he’s looking for both left- and right-handed starters, noting that his club doesn’t have many proven innings-eaters in the rotation.  Relatively few free agent pitchers have come off the board this winter, though Ryan said “it may be a slow moving market and then one of those big time pitchers goes and all heck breaks loose.”
  • Adam LaRoche wasn’t keen to fully transition to a full-time DH role, yet he told reporters (including CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes) during his introductory White Sox press conference that he’s happy to cede most of the first base duties to Jose Abreu.  “They’ve got a kid [Abreu] that’s obviously going to be around and be really good for a long time,” LaRoche said.  “It’s not fair to make him a full-time DH this early in his career, especially when he can handle first base and handle the glove over there….I’ll do it however it plays out.  If they need me to play first more than we’re talking about, great, I’ll be there. If I end up DHing more, that’s fine.”  Sox manager Robin Ventura said that he plans to give LaRoche two starts per week at first base, a time-share that will hopefully keep both LaRoche and Abreu fresh for the entire season.

Orioles Acquire Scott Barnes

The Orioles announced that they have acquired left-hander Scott Barnes from the Indians in exchange for cash considerations. Additionally, they’ve officially announced their previously reported signing of Rey Navarro to a Major League deal.

Barnes, 27, was designated for assignment by Cleveland on Sunday. He didn’t pitch in the Majors in 2014 but did in 2012-13, totaling 27 2/3 innings of 5.20 ERA ball with 8.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. Barnes has a 4.33 ERA in 199 1/3 Triple-A innings but a highly impressive 10.2 K/9 rate against a 4.2 BB/9 rate at that level. In 2014, he posted a 3.69 ERA at that level and held opposing lefties to a paltry .191/.296/.255 batting line.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette tells MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko that the Orioles are impressed by Barnes’ sharp slider, which he can use effectively against both right- and left-handed hitters (Twitter link).


Indians Out On Headley, Interested In Morales, Denorfia

Although the Indians were connected to free agent third baseman Chase Headley as recently as last night, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Headley won’t be coming to Cleveland, as he’s considered too expensive. The Indians did indeed reach out to Headley’s camp a few times before making that assertion, Hoynes adds.

Cleveland might not be a significant player on the free agent market at all, Hoynes writes, though they have contacted the agents for Kendrys Morales and Chris Denorfia. Cleveland’s interest in Morales dates back to 2006 when he was a free agent defector from Cuba. The switch-hitting Scott Boras client struggled in 2014, hitting a combined .218/.274/.338 in 401 plate appearances between the Twins and Mariners. However, Morales may have struggled due to sitting out through June 8, and he did enter the 2014 season as a lifetime .280/.333/.480 hitter in eight seasons. As Hoynes notes, Morales would become a more plausible target for the Indians if they’re able to unload Nick Swisher‘s contract, which they’ve reportedly been trying to do.

Denorfia, 34, also struggled in 2014, batting .230/.284/.318 between the Padres and Mariners. While he’s never had Morales’ upside at the plate, Denorfia has a long track record of hitting left-handed pitching and has excellent defensive marks in both outfield corners (plus the ability to play center in a pinch). A career .292/.358/.430 hitter against left-handed pitching, Denorfia could provide the Indians with a solid glove to pair with David Murphy in an outfield platoon, as Murphy hit just .238/.279/.325 against lefties last year and has a history of struggles against same-handed pitching.