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Cleveland Indians Rumors
The White Sox have announced that star pitcher Chris Sale has suffered an avulsion fracture in his right foot, sustained Friday in an accident at his home. (GM Rick Hahn says Sale sustained the injury while unloading his truck, according to CSNChicago.com’s Dan Hayes on Twitter.) Sale is expected to be out three weeks. That means he should return to pitching before the start of the season, although it remains to be seen how the timing of the injury will affect his preparations. The White Sox say they’ll evaluate whether Sale will be ready for Opening Day once he undergoes more tests. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- Most of the Cubs‘ top picks from their 2010 draft haven’t panned out, but the team could still get good value from several of their later-round picks, including Matt Szczur, Dallas Beeler and Eric Jokisch, the Associated Press writes. “I was the first one out of the draft class to be called up, and everyone seemed to follow after that,” says Beeler. “I felt like I got the ball rolling for everybody on that. That was a good feeling.” Beeler and Jokisch got good results in their first exposure to the big leagues last season, although neither are likely to make the team out of Spring Training after the Cubs added pitching talent this offseason.
- Pitcher Gavin Floyd says he signed with the Indians in part because he felt manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Mickey Callaway could help him, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Also, Floyd liked the Indians’ chances of winning and welcomed a return to the AL Central, with which he became familiar as a member of the White Sox from 2007-2013. Floyd has also been limited the past two years due to arm injuries, and the Indians have a fairly good track record of getting the most from bounce-back pitchers like Scott Kazmir and Carl Pavano. After missing much of the 2014 season with a broken bone in his elbow, Floyd has been pitching off a mound in Spring Training.
Major League Baseball has let teams know the bonus pool values for the 2015 amateur draft, and Baseball America’s John Manuel has the full list of what each team can spend on players taken in the first 10 rounds. The Astros have the highest bonus pool (at a bit more than $17.289MM) in part because they received the second overall selection as compensation for not signing Brady Aiken with the No. 1 pick last summer — Houston has both the second and fifth overall picks in the 2015 draft. As noted earlier today, the 2015-16 international draft pool values were also determined and revealed by Baseball America’s Ben Badler.
Here’s some more from around the game…
- Huston Street and the Angels haven’t begun yet talks about an extension during Spring Training, he tells MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter link). Street said he wanted “a week or so to settle in first” at camp and then the two sides would start negotiating. The closer is known to be looking for a new deal comparable to the contracts signed by David Robertson and Andrew Miller this offseason.
- The Indians are still interested in adding Dayan Viciedo but only on a minor league contract, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Hoynes reported on the Tribe’s interest in Viciedo two weeks ago, though Hoynes felt Viciedo would more likely opt for a team who could offer him a Major League deal and a clearer path to playing time.
- Melky Cabrera was already intrigued by the White Sox since his wife loves Chicago, though the outfielder wasn’t totally sold until he saw the team’s winter moves, Cabrera told CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes. When GM Rick Hahn approached Cabrera earlier in the offseason, he was more skeptical since he wanted to play for a contender. Cabrera “really wanted to win,” Hahn recalled. “(He said) ‘But with all due respect are you guys really in a position to win and am I really a difference maker for you?’ ”
- With Michael Saunders sidelined for several months, the Blue Jays are lacking in solid left field replacement options, Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith writes. Nicholson-Smith lists several internal and external candidates who are flawed (or unlikely to be pursued) for one reason or another. The Padres‘ Will Venable is cited as perhaps the best trade candidate for the Jays’ LF hole, though even he isn’t a perfect fit.
- The Mariners are putting a lot of faith in Logan Morrison to be healthy and productive this season, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes, given Morrison’s injury history and Seattle’s lack of depth at the first base position.
Looking to get some more insight into the trade that sent Brandon Moss from Oakland to Cleveland, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer spoke with Athletics assistant GM David Forst and manager Bob Melvin about the swap (Oakland received second base prospect Joe Wendle in exchange). Though Wendle has never ranked as a Top 100 prospect according to outlets such as Baseball America, ESPN, etc., Forst said that the A’s don’t concern themselves with prospect rankings. Rather, the A’s have been enamored with Wendle for more than a year and tried to trade for him in the past. “He is a high-contact hitter. He plays good defense. He has an outstanding makeup. We like him,” Forst explained. Melvin explained that the A’s very much like Moss, but were hoping to get a bit younger. Candidly, the Forst told Pluto that the A’s feel Ike Davis can replace Moss’ bat at a cheaper price.
A bit more from Pluto’s interview and the rest of the AL West…
- Forst told Pluto that the Athletics never discussed Josh Donaldson with the Indians. Oakland targeted a few select teams, and the Blue Jays were at the top of their list of potential trade candidates, he added. Meanwhile, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star chimed in on that same trade (via Twitter), noting that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said that his initial hope was to acquire Donaldson and move Brett Lawrie to second base, but it eventually became clear that Lawrie had to be included in the return to obtain Donaldson.
- The Rangers offered Joba Chamberlain more than the $1MM base salary he received on his new deal with the Tigers, but Chamberlain elected to return to Detroit, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Earlier this morning, GM Dave Dombrowski told reporters that Chamberlain had received more lucrative offers elsewhere but “really wanted” to be a Tiger again.
- Also from Heyman (on Twitter), infielder Elliot Johnson will receive a $900K base salary if he makes the Rangers‘ big league roster. Johnson signed a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite yesterday, the team announced.
- Drew Butera‘s Major League experience and the fact that he’s out of options make him the favorite to win the Angels‘ backup catcher job, writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. However, Fletcher does quote manager Mike Scioscia, who says he’s also been impressed by candidates Carlos Perez and Jett Bandy. “All of these guys have shown on the defensive side they are ready for the challenge,” said Scioscia.
- Astros catcher Jason Castro recently spoke to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle about the feeling of seeing his name floated in trade rumors for much of the offseason. “I think if you focus too much on it, you kind of drive yourself crazy,” said Castro, who called trade rumors “part of the offseason.” The White Sox and Rangers were among the teams with interest in Castro, per Drellich. Castro’s spot with the Astros became secure again once the team dealt Carlos Corporan to the Rangers. Castro and Hank Conger will see the bulk of the time behind the plate for Houston.
For the third installment of a four-part series comparing the Indians and the division-rival Tigers, Cleveland.com’s Zack Meisel spoke to both Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski and Indians GM Chris Antonetti about the way in which their payroll allows them to operate. Dombrowski discussed how the financial muscle provided to him by owner Mike Ilitch allows for an aggressive approach that he didn’t necessarily have when serving as GM of the Expos and Marlins, or even earlier in his Tigers tenure. While a larger pool of resources hasn’t changed his philosophical approach to the game, per se, it has changed his approach to accomplishing his goals.
Antonetti, meanwhile, discussed the importance of acquiring and building around players in the “sweet spot” of their careers, as the Tribe GM termed it — players who are entering, or in the midst, of their peak years (and subsequently are in the early stages of arbitration). The young nature of Cleveland’s core made the team comfortable with adding only Brandon Moss and Gavin Floyd to the roster this winter, Antonetti added. “It’s a group that played its best baseball in the second half, and so as we looked at things, we felt very good about the group of guys we headed into the offseason with,” Antonetti said.
Some more AL Central notes…
- The Tigers announced yesterday that two-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera has been cleared to begin non-impact baseball activities, which include hitting and throwing. Cabrera “will begin a running progression until full weight-bearing is achieved,” per the press release. While the Tigers neglected to give a specific timetable for his return, the release indicated that the club is “optimistic” that Cabrera will be ready come Opening Day. Cabrera underwent surgery in October to remove bone spurs from his right ankle and repair a stress fracture in his right foot.
- A report earlier this week indicated that the Royals watched Phil Coke throw recently, and Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets that the Royals have not only watched Coke, but also Alfredo Aceves throw. Kansas City is still on the hunt for relief depth, McCullough notes. While Coke makes some sense as a lefty option in the K.C. bullpen, he’s reportedly seeking a Major League contract, whereas Aceves could certainly be had on a minor league deal.
- When the Braves and Royals engaged in Justin Upton trade talks earlier this winter, Atlanta wanted left-handed prospect Sean Manaea included in the deal, according to Peter Gammons in his most recent post at GammonsDaily.com. The 34th overall pick of the 2013 draft, Manaea was projected by many as a top 10-15 pick before questions about hip and shoulder injuries caused his stock to drop. The southpaw performed well in his first pro season, posting a 3.11 ERA, 10.8 K/9 and 2.7 K/BB rate over 121 2/3 IP in high-A ball. Gammons believes Manaea has a shot at being a late-season call-up this year, and compares him to another heralded left-handed prospect in Carlos Rodon.
WEDNESDAY: Chen has an opt-out in his deal that can be triggered at the end of the spring, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Twitter link).
It is worth noting that, because he did not finish the 2014 season on a 40-man roster, Chen does not qualify as an Article XX(B) free agent. The negotiated opt-out clause, then, replaces the protections he would otherwise have received.
MONDAY: The Indians have agreed to a minor league pact with veteran southpaw Bruce Chen, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. Chen can earn a $1MM salary if he makes the club, and can also achieve up to $1MM in incentives.
Chen, 37, has worked to a 4.58 lifetime ERA over parts of sixteen MLB seasons. The swingman earned a $3.25MM free agent guarantee with the Royals after putting up good results in 2013, but was released in September after posting a rough 7.45 ERA in his 48 1/3 frames last year.
Cleveland marks the 11th MLB club that Chen has suited up for. The Indians rotation looks to be a tough nut to crack, and the team does have a variety of left-handed pen options in tow already, but Chen’s salary possibilities suggest that he likely drew interest elsewhere and picked Cleveland for a reason.
As with fellow veteran lefty Barry Zito, who also struck a deal tonight, Chen has experienced a significant decrease in fastball velocity in recent years despite an already-low starting point. In 2014, his average heater dipped under 86 mph for the first time in his career, though Chen still managed to set down 6.7 batters per nine by strikeout.
The Pirates and third baseman turned first baseman Pedro Alvarez have their arbitration hearing set for tomorrow, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). That means that by Thursday of this week, we should know whether Alvarez will earn the $5.75MM for which he filed or the $5.25MM figure submitted by the team (as shown in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker). Alvarez, who turned 28 earlier this month, saw his homer total cut in half from 2013 (36) to 2014 (18) in a season in which he hit .231/.312/.405 overall. The Pirates have already won an arbitration hearing this offseason, beating Neil Walker. He’d filed at $9MM against the team’s $8MM. They also lost a hearing against Vance Worley, who will earn $2.45MM rather than $2MM as a result.
Here’s more from the game’s Central divisions…
- Pirates infielder Jung-ho Kang isn’t making the jump the Major Leagues just for himself, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Rather, Kang hopes to be a trailblazer whose success allows other position players to jump from the Korea Baseball Organization to the Major Leagues. “…I know that if I do well, more Korean players will come here,” said Kang through an interpreter. “So while I feel pressure, I’m also very excited about opening the market here for Korean players.” Kang knows the language barrier he faces will be an obstacle, though he’s already met teammates Andrew Lambo and Tony Sanchez and has positive interactions down in Florida. “He seems like a great dude,” Lambo told Biertempfel. “He’ll fit in right. He’s real quiet, obviously, coming from a different country. But he’s also given a (vibe) that he is genuinely friendly and wants to get to know every player, which is really cool.”
- Joel Hanrahan‘s 2015 contract with the Tigers contains opt-out clauses on April 30 and June 5, reports Chris Iott of MLive.com. As Iott points out, Hanrahan will also be an Article XX(B) free agent this year. As a player who finished the 2014 season on a Major League contract but signed a minor league deal this offseason, he’ll have to be released or paid a $100K retention bonus before sending him to the minors at the end of Spring Training. MLBTR will again cover all of the Article XX(B) free agents in a more in-depth fashion as Spring Training wears on.
- Left-hander Bruce Chen will have a shot to crack the Indians‘ rotation after signing a minor league deal with an invite to big league Spring Training, but he faces an uphill battle in making the roster, writes MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. Cleveland’s top four rotation slots are occupied by Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Gavin Floyd. The fifth spot will be competed for by Danny Salazar, T.J. House, Zach McAllister and Chen. Though he could land in the bullpen as well, he’s seemingly behind fellow lefties Marc Rzepczynski, Nick Hagadone and Kyle Crockett on the depth chart.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe ranked every manager in baseball. Giants skipper Bruce Bochy took the top spot for his ability to get great production of of good, but not great, talent. After that, Bochy, Buck Showalter, Joe Maddon, Terry Francona, and Bob Melvin round out Cafardo’s top five. The bottom of the list doesn’t necessarily feature baseball’s “worst” managers as the first-timers are automatically the lowest ranked. More from today’s column..
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said last week that four teams made real offers for Cole Hamels and Cafardo hears from a major league source that one of those clubs was the Red Sox. From talking with various sources, Cafardo senses that the package Boston offered was heavy on the major league side, trying to avoid giving up any of their top prospects. Of course, the Phillies are insistent on prospects, and if they don’t get them now they’ll wait until the deadline when teams are a little more desperate.
- There may be a mystery team out there kicking the tires on Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon. The Phillies are still optimistic that they make a deal happen somewhere, even though the Brewers talks haven’t unfolded as expected.
- The Twins and Indians are looking for a right-handed bat and Cafardo wonders if Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig could be a fit. With Shane Victorino in the fold and Bryce Brentz in the minors, Cafardo wonders when Boston will try and clear up the logjam.
- Chad Billingsley could also be trade bait for the Phillies if he gets off to a good start. A couple of scouts tell Cafardo that they see Billingsley as an effective 150-160-inning guy at the back end of a rotation.
The Indians are interested in signing former White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Cleveland has been searching for a right-handed platoon bat to complement their outfielders. Viciedo, who was released by the White Sox on February 4th, offers plenty of power with 60 home runs over the last three seasons. His best numbers come against left-handed pitchers.
The Indians face an uphill battle to woo Viciedo according to Hoynes. The roster is already crowded in the outfield with Michael Brantley, Michael Bourn, David Murphy, Brandon Moss, Nick Swisher, and Ryan Raburn in the mix. Murphy has already stated he would be open to a trade if playing time was scarce. Viciedo may want to sign with a team that offers a better opportunity to start.
Hoynes figures it will take a major league contract to acquire Viciedo. Jordan Bastian of MLB.com tweets “unless it’s a minor league deal, [it] doesn’t seem like a fit.” Last weekend, I asked which team was the most likely to acquire Viciedo. The Tigers were the favorite destination at nearly 19 percent, while the Phillies and Giants each checked in around 15 percent.
The Yankees finalized last summer’s trades for Martin Prado, Josh Outman and Jeff Francis with cash rather than minor leaguers, a team official tells Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees blog. All three deals (with the Diamondbacks, Indians and Athletics, respectively) were made with either cash or a player to be named later going back to the other team in return. Here’s some more from around the baseball world…
- In an entry from Buster Olney’s latest Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, he notes that talent is a rarer commodity than money in today’s game, which is why he feels the Phillies should consider eating some of Cole Hamels‘ contract to bring back better prospects in a deal. Looking at the Hamels-to-Boston trade rumors, Olney wonders why the Red Sox would deal top prospects for Hamels now when a number of ace-level pitchers will be available for only cash in free agency next offseason.
- This offseason has already seen eight arbitration hearings and seven more outstanding cases could go to a hearing, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi notes. It’s an unusually high number given that there were only 13 arb hearings in total over the previous four offseasons, though Morosi doesn’t yet think this could be an omen about the upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations.
- Former big leaguer-turned-FOX Sports analyst C.J. Nitkowski is no stranger to minor league contracts, and he details some of the many factors that a player must consider before signing such a deal.
- Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron lists his ten least-favorite moves of the offseason, with the Padres‘ trade for Matt Kemp topping the list. Cameron believes the Padres paid far too heavy a price in both talent and salary to acquire Kemp, whose best days are possibly behind him due to a checkered injury history.
The expensive costs of youth travel leagues are an obstacle to attracting young talent to baseball, Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen writes in a piece for The Players Tribune. The full scholarships provided by college basketball or football make them more appealing sports than the long, usually financially-unrewarding path to the majors that the vast majority of prospects face — McCutchen himself admits that, were it not for an ACL tear when he was 15, he would’ve likely pursued NCAA football and not been a big league star today. He argues that kids from low-income families need more entry points into the game, with one possible solution being a new system similar to the academy program for international prospects.
Here’s the latest from around the NL and AL Central divisions…
- The Indians don’t have interest in signing veteran southpaw Barry Zito, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. The Tribe were one of multiple teams who recently saw Zito throw during a workout session.
- Right-hander Matt Albers threw at the same session and the Indians were interested in signing him, Pluto reports, but Albers instead chose a minor league deal with the White Sox.
- David Herndon is happy to finally be healthy and pleased to have signed a minor league deal with the Brewers, the right-hander tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We had dialogue with them throughout the offseason and at the end of the day we got it done. It’s been a long road but we’re going to get back on track this year,” Herndon said. He also mentioned that the Padres were interested in his services, and he threw a workout for San Diego earlier this offseason.
- In less than a year’s time, catcher has gone from a weak spot within the Cubs organization to a position of potentially great depth, CSN Chicago’s Tony Andracki writes. The Cubs have Miguel Montero, David Ross and Welington Castillo at the big league level, and prospects Victor Caratini, Kyle Schwarber and Mark Zagunis developing in the minors.
- Between the big contracts David Robertson and Andrew Miller earned in free agency and Aroldis Chapman‘s sizable $8.05MM deal for 2015, the Twins‘ extension with Glen Perkins is looking better and better for the club, 1500 ESPN’s Derek Wetmore writes. After earning $4.025 MM for another strong season in 2014, Perkins is owed $18.15MM through the 2017 campaign. It’s worth noting that Perkins was shut down in September with a left forearm strain, though he has said his arm has felt good in offseason workouts.