Cleveland Indians Rumors

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

Indians Sign Bradley Zimmer

1:06pm: Zimmer and the Indians agreed to a $1.9MM bonus, Hoynes tweets.

12:52pm: The Indians have signed first-round pick Bradley Zimmer for an estimated $2MM signing bonus, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (on Twitter). Zimmer’s draft slot, No. 21 overall, carried a value of $2,008,100, according to Baseball America. The Indians have announced the signing as well (also on Twitter).

Bradley Zimmer

Zimmer, the younger brother of Royals prospect (and former No. 5 overall pick) Kyle Zimmer, was thought to be one of the best college bats in this year’s class. The University of San Francisco center fielder ranked 10th on MLB.com’s Top 200 list, 12th on the Top 100 of ESPN’s Keith Law and 14th on Baseball America’s Top 500 list. Zimmer batted a whopping .368/.461/.573 for the Dons this season, batting third early in the year and eventually batting leadoff. He hit seven homers, seven triples and 10 doubles, and he also stole 21 bases and walked nearly as often as he struck out (31 walks, 34 strikeouts).

Zimmer draws praise for his hit tool, above-average arm and athleticism, with many scouts expecting more power to come as he matures. While he’s played center field in college, some have wondered if his size — he’s listed at 6’5″, 205 pounds — will eventually push him to an outfield corner. Shortly before the draft, I had the opportunity to talk with Zimmer as part of MLBTR’s Draft Prospect Q&A series, and we discussed his approach at the plate, his growing power and who would win in a showdown between him and his brother.

Photo courtesy of the University of San Francisco Athletics department.


Quick Hits: Brock, Worley, Indians, Collins

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the trade in which the Cubs sent Lou Brock to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio and two other players in a six-player deal, Al Yellon of Bleed Cubbie Blue notes. This was, of course, one of the worst trades in baseball history. Yellon explains that the Cubs were motivated in part by their poor start in 1964. They had finished 82-80 in 1963 for their first winning season in more than a decade, and they were hoping to make another run at contention. They also clearly didn’t realize that Brock, who was already almost 25, would become half the player he did, and they also didn’t anticipate that Broglio would begin having elbow problems almost immediately. Yellon notes that many writers at the time praised the Cubs for the trade. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • The Pirates will add Vance Worley to their 40-man roster in time for him to start on Sunday, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. The Pirates acquired Worley from the Twins in a depth move in March, but since then he’s demonstrated stellar control at Triple-A Indianapolis (with just four walks in 46 innings), and the Pirates have dealt with injuries to Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon, as well as the departure of Wandy Rodriguez. Worley’s start will be his first in the big leagues since last May 22, after which he had a 7.21 ERA with 4.6 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 48 2/3 innings for Minnesota.
  • The Indians have struggled defensively this season, but it might be difficult for them to trade for defensive help, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes. The problem is that many of their worst defensive players, such as Nick Swisher, Carlos Santana and Lonnie Chisenhall, are important to their offense. (A more straightforward path to improvement, of course, would be for Swisher and Santana to hit more.)
  • The Mets have told manager Terry Collins his job is safe even though the Mets are 30-37, Newsday’s Anthony Rieber reports. The Mets signed Collins to a two-year extension in the offseason, and the Mets like Collins’ upbeat tone despite the team’s struggles. “One of the things we’ve tried to do here is create an atmosphere where guys understand what it is to play at this level,” says Collins. “The game sometimes isn’t friendly. But they’ve got to go out and keep doing their jobs, and that’s what they’re doing.”

Indians To Sign Second-Rounder Grant Hockin

The Indians have reached an agreement with second-round pick Grant Hockin on an above-slot $1.1MM bonus, according to MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo (on Twitter). The 61st overall selection in the draft had been assigned a value of $928.7K, according to Baseball America.

Opinions on the 6’3″, 195-pound Hockin varied, as ESPN’s Keith Law ranked him 49th among draft prospects, while MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo ranked Hockin 91st and Baseball America ranked him 109th in the draft. Law feels that Hockin, a client of MVP Sports Group, flashes four above-average pitches with a clean arm slot. BA feels that only three of his pitches have above-average potential, also noting that he doesn’t have a wipeout offering.

Hockin is the grandson of Hall of Fame slugger Harmon Killebrew, and has generated some media attention due to those impressive bloodlines. The California high school right-hander had committed to UCLA but will instead begin his pro career.



Indians To Sign Justus Sheffield

3:15pm: Agent David Sloane of Taurus Sports tells MLBTR that Sheffield has agreed to terms at $1.6MM plus the value of a $250K scholarship with Vanderbilt. Sheffield’s deal is technically under slot, but the additional value of the scholarship money and the fact that the bonus is to be paid up front takes the value of the deal over the slot value while allowing Cleveland to allot roughly $133K to other picks later in the draft.

10:45am: Zach Birdsong of Sheffield’s hometown Tullahoma News tweeted late last night that a “source close to the deal” informed him that Sheffield has neither signed nor agreed to anything. Sheffield himself retweeted Birdsong shortly thereafter, suggesting that there likely isn’t an agreement in place just yet.

12:29am: The Indians and first-round pick Justus Sheffield have agreed to a $1.6MM bonus plus eight semesters worth of tuition to Vanderbilt, reports Jim Callis of MLB.com (on Twitter). The No. 31 overall draft slot carried a value of $1.733MM, meaning Sheffield signed a bit under slot. Cleveland received the No. 31 overall selection as compensation for losing right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez to the Orioles via free agency. Including college tuition as a fallback isn’t uncommon among high school draft signings, though it isn’t always reported, either. That money does not count against the team’s bonus pool.

Sheffield, a high school left-hander out of Tennessee, ranked 21st among draft prospects according to ESPN’s Keith Law, 39th according to Callis and colleague Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com and 49th according to Baseball America.

Callis and Mayo feel that Sheffield has the chance to develop three plus pitches. His heater already sits 89 to 92 mph and touches 94, and he also features a mid-70s curveball and changeup, both of which the MLB.com duo refers to as advanced for high school. Law feels that Sheffield’s fourth pitch, a slider in the 82-84 mph range, also has a chance to be plus and can already miss bats. BA called him a strike-thrower with a four-pitch mix and a chance for average or better command. All three scouting reports praised his athleticism.


AL Central Notes: Iglesias, Tigers, Hicks, Masterson

Any Tigers fans that were holding out hope for a Jose Iglesias return in late 2014 will have to wait until next year, as GM Dave Dombrowski told Tony Paul of the Detroit News today that the team doesn’t expect the defensive wizard back at any point in 2014. Previous reports had indicated that Iglesias was likely to miss “most” of 2014 with stress fractures in his shins, though most were already operating under the assumption that his season was indeed lost. Detroit has a definite need at short, as the players that have manned the position to this point have combined for an MLB-worst .187/.239/.235 batting line while adding negative defensive contributions according to both Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved.

Some more links pertaining to the Tigers and their division…

  • James Schmel of MLive.com fielded plenty of interesting questions in his latest Twitter mailbag, including some on Victor Martinez‘s future with the Tigers and the team’s deadline approach. He feels V-Mart will receive a qualifying offer, but the Tigers will be hesitant about a deal of three of more years for their aging DH. He adds that the Tigers likely feel they’re set in the outfield with Andy Dirks on the mend, but it’s not hard to envision them targeting some rotation depth next month.
  • The Twins are continuing to look for a stopgap option in center field so they can option Aaron Hicks to the minors, reports La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. One potential option, Sam Fuld, is currently nearing a rehab assignment after sustaining a concussion last month, Neal writes. Hicks recently gave up switch-hitting in favor of what has long been a superior right-handed stroke, but learning to gauge breaking balls from right-handed pitchers as a right-handed hitter at the Major League level is a tall task. Hicks’ .722 OPS as a right-handed hitter in his career dwarfs his .549 mark from the left side.
  • Justin Masterson spoke with WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford on the Indians‘ recent trip to Boston about his contract situation. Masterson said he’s following his former teammate Jon Lester‘s lead as the pair approaches free agency, not letting it distract him after failing to reach an extension agreement in Spring Training. “I’m the exact same way. One way or another, something is going to happen. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about it or not.” He added that while he hasn’t tracked the success of other impending free agents, he has kept an eye on Lester’s numbers, but only because the two are friends.

Royals Claim Blake Wood

The Royals have claimed right-hander Blake Wood off waivers from the Indians, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link).  Wood was designated for assignment by the Tribe last week.

Wood was originally drafted by Kansas City in the third round of the 2006 draft and he posted a 4.30 ERA and 1.72 K/BB rate in 119 1/3 relief innings with the team in 2010-11.  He missed all of 2012 recovering from Tommy John surgery and was waived by K.C. following the season.  Wood struggled with Cleveland this season, posting a 7.11 ERA and issuing an equal number of walks (seven) as strikeouts over 6 1/3 IP of work.

With Wood claimed, only Jeremy Horst (Phillies), Vin Mazzaro (Pirates) and Wade LeBlanc (Angels) remain in DFA Limbo according to the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker.


Draft Notes: Finnegan, Indians, Red Sox

With the recent rash of Tommy John surgeries in baseball, general managers are scared of taking pitchers at the top of the draft and giving them lucrative contracts, writes Bob Nightengale of USA Today. “There’s more awareness right now with the health of pitchers than I’ve ever seen,” one NL exec said. “It brings so much apprehension and anxiety right now.  I don’t think we’ve ever been so sensitive to what’s going on because of all of the pitching injuries.  Anyone with health issues, they’re going to fall.  You going to spend $6MM to $7MM on a pitcher who’s headed for Tommy John surgery?”  This is why some baseball executives believe collegiate pitchers Jeff Hoffman (East Carolina) and Erick Fedde (UNLV) could fall out of the top ten.

Here are more draft notes from around MLB:

  • This year’s draft has been said to be deep in arms, both at the collegiate and high school levels. As teams debate whether to take more polished products or roll the dice on prep upside, an interesting study from J.J. Cooper of Baseball America is worth considering. Cooper finds pitchers who attended college were significantly more likely to undergo Tommy John surgery than were those who went straight from high school to the professional ranks. Those findings could have implications both for how teams sort their draft boards and for the decision-making process of drafted players.
  • TCU left-hander Brandon Finnegan could become a top-ten pick because of his increased velocity, tweets CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman.
  • The Indians, armed with the 21st, 31st, and 38th overall choices and a $8.23MM overall pool (eighth-highest in the league) are hoping to take advantage of the deep slate of prospects, report MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian and Alec Shirkey. “You have more money than 22 other clubs,” explained Brad Grant, the club’s director of amateur scouting. “So I have a lot more agent calls this year than I had in the past because we have the flexibility to do a lot of different things.
  • The Red Sox don’t own a top-ten pick in this year’s draft, but they’ve been able to land high-end talent before by taking chances on guys with injuries, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. Boston snagged Jackie Bradley, Jr. with the 40th overall pick in 2011, an ultra-talented outfielder who had a subpar junior season that included a wrist injury. The Red Sox will pick 26th and 33rd on Thursday.
  • Because baseball players take so much longer to develop than their counterparts in other sports, the MLB draft is a particularly difficult feat.  However, that doesn’t stop teams from kicking themselves after making franchise-altering mistakes, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.  MacPherson runs down some of the most regrettable choices in modern draft history, from the Padres taking Matt Bush in 2004 over Justin Verlander to 24 teams passing on Mike Trout before he fell to the Angels in 2009.

Jeff Todd and Edward Creech contributed to this post.


Draft Notes: Hoffman, Angels, Indians

East Carolina pitcher Jeff Hoffman, who was universally projected to be a top-of-the-first-round pick before an elbow injury that resulted in Tommy John surgery, isn’t going to enjoy following the first round of the draft, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times reports. “The competitor in me makes it hard for me to see, maybe, a bunch of guys get picked ahead of me — guys that I know aren’t better than me, some guys out of high school that don’t really understand the game of baseball yet,” says Hoffman. Nonetheless, he remains confident in his ability, and he hasn’t changed his goal of helping a big-league team within two years. “[E]verything happens for a reason, and whatever team takes the so-called risk and drafts me is going to get the best player in the draft.” Hoffman remains a likely first-round pick. Here are more notes on the draft.

  • The best first-round draft pick in Angels history, unsurprisingly, is that of Mike Trout in 2009, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes. That’s the case even though the Angels have also drafted Jered Weaver, Troy Glaus and Darin Erstad in Round 1. Gonzalez also names the Angels’ best picks from every other round through Round 15. Those include John Lackey in the second round in 1999, and Tim Salmon in the third round in 1989.
  • Having four picks on the first day of the draft (Nos. 21, 31, 38 and 61) gives the Indians an edge this season, Indians amateur scouting director Brad Grant says on a video posted by Dan Labbe of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Grant says that this year’s draft class is heavy on depth, with many similar players falling between the end of the first round through the second round. After sacrificing picks for Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn in the 2012-2013 offseason, the Indians selected Clint Frazier at No. 5 overall last year and then didn’t pick again until No. 79 overall. Grant says there were many players the Indians only watched once, proceeding on the assumption that they wouldn’t get to draft them. With so many extra picks this year, the Indians are spending more resources scouting players who might go in the first few rounds.

Indians Designate Blake Wood For Assignment

The Indians have designated righty Blake Wood for assignment, the club announced via press release. Though Wood had previously been optioned to Triple-A, his 40-man spot was needed for the club’s selection of the contract of catcher George Kottaras.

Wood, 28, had tossed 6 1/3 innings for Cleveland this year, allowing five earned runs and striking out seven while surrendering seven free passes. Over eight Triple-A frames, he had allowed just one earned and struck out seven, though he had also issued a troubling 11 walks. Wood was a mainstay in the Royals pen from 2010-11, but missed the 2012 campaign due to Tommy John surgery and has seen mostly spot time in the bigs since joining the Indians organization before the 2013 season.


Quick Hits: Indians, Hundley, Utley, Drew

Scott Atchison says he isn’t bothered by being in a closer-by-committee with the Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, and Marc Rzepczynski, writes Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer.  “I think everyone has handled it well, while still being ready to pitch whenever we’re needed in the game,” the Indians reliever said. “We all understood that if we think the right guy for the big outs is in the seventh, then we’re going to put that guy in and worry about the ninth when we get to the ninth. I think we’ve done well with it and it hasn’t disrupted our bullpen a whole lot.”  More from around baseball..

  • Catcher Nick Hundley told reporters this morning that if he had to be traded, he’s glad he ended up with the Orioles, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.  He spoke highly of the O’s, mentioning their winning atmosphere and “storied manager” in Buck Showalter.
  • Hundley will be missed in the Padres clubhouse, writes Dennis Lin of the Union-Tribune.  “Nick has such a great heart and was a great Padre,” said manager Bud Black. “He was truly on board from a team aspect. That was a tough one.
  • If the Phillies are selling, they would consider dealing Cliff Lee (if healthy), Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd, Carlos Ruiz, Jonathan Papelbon, and others, but there’s no evidence that they’re willing to move Chase Utley, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.  The Phillies, he points out, signed Utley to a multi-year contract extension last summer with the intention of keeping him to lead a transitioning roster.
  • While Stephen Drew may not be a middle-of-the-order threat or Gold Glove defender, he brings some very necessary attributes to the Red Sox, writes John Tomase of the Boston Herald.  The Red Sox won just ten of their first 28 games against right-handed starters and Drew should help balance things out in that regard.