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Cleveland Indians Rumors
1:59pm: Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that Swarzak will earn $900K on the Major League roster, and the contract contains an additional $350K worth of incentives. He’ll be paid $35K for reaching 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 appearances as well as $35K for reaching 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 innings pitched. He also has a Sept. 1 opt-out clause, Berardino adds (Twitter links).
Swarzak, a client of Jet Sports Management, ranks second in the Majors in relief innings dating back to 2012, as the Indians note in the linked tweet. Cleveland should be plenty familiar with Swarzak, as the former second-round pick has spent his entire career with the division-rival Twins to this point.
Now 29 years of age, Swarzak has experience as both as a starter and reliever, but he’s worked primarily in long relief and as a spot starter with the Twins over the past three seasons. Swarzak enjoyed an excellent 2013 season in which he made 48 relief appearances and totaled 96 innings with a 2.91 ERA, 6.5 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 45.2 percent ground-ball rate. However, he took a step back in 2014, registering a 4.60 ERA with declined rate states, including 4.9 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 44.5 percent ground-ball rate.
Minnesota non-tendered Swarzak rather than pay him a projected $1.4MM in his second run through arbitration. If he makes the club in Cleveland and pitches well, he’s controllable through the 2016 campaign.
Though he receives only a $2.2MM guarantee, recently-signed Twins righty Tim Stauffer can earn significantly more through incentives, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports. Stauffer can max out his deal at a total of $3.95MM ($1.75MM bonus) if he makes 55 appearances in the coming season. He can earn $250K bonuses upon his 15th, 18th, 21st, 24th, and 27th appearances, land $100K for the 45th time he takes the hill, and nab another $250K at number fifty-five.
Here’s more from the central divisions:
- The Brewers and Indians are among the teams on the market for late-inning relief help, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Neither team intends to “spend big,” however, Rosenthal adds. Several established pen arms remain available through free agency.
- We heard yesterday that righty Scott Baker had interest from five clubs that were offering minor league deals. The Reds are one of the teams pursuing the veteran, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN, whereas the Twins are not involved.
- The White Sox could still cut Dayan Viciedo loose this spring after agreeing to avoid arbitration, writes SB Nation’s Jim Margalus, but the club would still be on the hook for a portion of his $4.4MM salary. Margalus breaks down recent instances of such scenarios, but explains that the actual cost to teams (as well as the presence or results of any grievance proceedings) remains largely unknown publicly. At this point, a spot as a bench bat seems the likeliest outcome, though a trade is still possible.
The Indians have a logjam of players who can handle right field, first base and DH, but Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that the surplus doesn’t mean a trade is likely. David Murphy‘s name has come up in rumors, but team has to first determine the health status of Nick Swisher, Brandon Moss and Ryan Raburn. Swisher had surgery on both knees in August, Moss had hip surgery in October and Raburn had left knee surgery in September in addition to dealing with a sore wrist for much of the season. Hoynes provides a health update on each player, and he also spoke with Francona, who sounded happy to have a number of options on his hands: “You walk that fine line. You have guys who expect playing time … but at the same time we can’t let our season be derailed by the unknown. I think [GM] Chris [Antonetti] did a really god job protecting us … I think it’s going to make us a better team and protect us from the unknown.”
A couple more Indians notes…
- The Indians’ signing of Gavin Floyd was all about adding depth and innings to a promising but young rotation, writes MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. While the team does have other arms that had figured to compete for time in the rotation, they can continue to develop in the upper minors and remain ready to step in if a need arises.
- Also from Bastian, the club announced today that Jason Bere, a special assistant to the baseball operations department, has been named the club’s new bullpen coach in the wake of Kevin Cash’s departure to manage the Rays. “He’s been with the organization a long time, so everybody knows him,” Francona told Bastian. “By design, we had him around a lot, not just in Spring Training, but in September and at a few key points during the year, because of what he can add to a staff.”
- After receiving his release today from Cleveland, righty Tyler Cloyd is expected to reach agreement with the KBO’s Samsung Lions, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. The club had announced that it was releasing Cloyd so that he could pursue an opportunity in Korea.
The Indians announced a series of minor pitching transactions on Twitter. Left-hander Michael Roth has been inked to a minor league deal with a spring invite, while righty Tyler Cloyd has been released to afford him an opportunity to pitch in Korea.
Roth is a 24-year-old who has thrown mostly in relief at the major league level while working as a starter in the minors. The University of South Carolina grad has been hit around in the bigs, but worked to a solid 2.62 ERA with 5.1 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 140 2/3 innings as a starter at Double-A. Roth refused an outright assignment with the Angels after being designated for assignment back in November.
The 27-year-old Cloyd, meanwhile, worked at Triple-A last year with the Indians organization, pitching to a 3.89 ERA over 166 2/3 frames with 6.4 K/9 against 1.7 BB/9. He had served as a spot starter for Cleveland at the MLB level over the prior two years, compiling a 5.98 ERA over 93 1/3 total innings.
Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball.
- The Indians have signed Casey Weathers to a minor-league deal, Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan tweets. The hard-throwing righty and former Rockies first-round pick has struggled with his control throughout his career. He also has a lengthy injury history and missed most of the past two seasons with elbow trouble, although he says he’s now pain-free, and Passan links to a recent video of Weathers throwing 106 MPH after getting a running start.
- The Rays have signed another hard-throwing righty reliever, Jhan Marinez, according to the International League transactions page. Marinez, 26, posted a 6.69 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 7.1 BB/9 in 40 1/3 innings in the Dodgers and Tigers systems in 2014, struggling badly with his control. He last appeared in the big leagues with the White Sox in 2012.
- The Rangers have signed righty Mitch Atkins, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. Atkins, 29, pitched for Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett in the Braves system in 2014, posting a combined 3.76 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 141 1/3 innings. He pitched briefly in the big leagues for the Cubs (2009-2010) and Orioles (2011).
Over the past two seasons, Gomes, now 27, has established himself as Cleveland’s starting catcher and one of the better all-around catchers in the league. The Brazilian-born backstop has batted .284/.325/.476 in 223 games for the Indians since being acquired from Toronto. He played a career-high 135 games this past season and won his first Silver Slugger award, hitting .278/.313/.472 with 21 homers. He’s also regarded as a plus pitch-framer and has thrown out 35 percent of attempted base-stealers in his career. The Indians can currently control Gomes through his age-33 season, as he previously signed a six-year, $23MM contract that comes with a pair of club options valued at $9MM and $11MM.
As Tim points out, Gomes will be one of several notable catchers represented by Jet, whose agents also represent Brian McCann, Devin Mesoraco and Mike Zunino. Gomes joins an agency that represents 2014 AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber and Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, who inked a seven-year, $100MM extension earlier this winter.
For agent information on more than 2,000 Major League and Minor League players, check out MLBTR’s Agency Database. If you see any notable errors or omissions, please let us know via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Baseball’s competitive balance is the top takeaway from the 2014 season, opines MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince. Parity can be defined in many ways, Castrovince notes, but what cannot be ignored is no team has won 100 games since 2011, three division winners in 2014 (Angels, Nationals, and Orioles) were not in the playoffs the year before, and the World Series featured a pair of Wild Card clubs. Castrovince lists a greater reliance on young talent, revenue sharing, TV money, and draft and international spending limits as reasons for the competitive balance never being stronger.
Elsewhere around baseball:
- The Mariners‘ payroll isn’t keeping pace with payroll increases throughout the game, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times argues. The Mariners spent $93MM in 2010 and had the 14th highest payroll in the game, but because of salary inflation since then, their $109MM 2014 payroll only put them at 16th. The Mariners did add Nelson Cruz this offseason, but Baker feels their outfield would have benefited from another bat, like Melky Cabrera, Justin Upton or Matt Kemp, any of whom would have put a dent in their payroll. The Mariners have financial benefits a team like the Royals doesn’t have, Baker says, and their spending shouldn’t be in MLB’s bottom half.
- The Tigers have not discussed an extension with David Price this offseason, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi notes. That indicates it’s still possible they could sign free agent Max Scherzer and deal Price (Twitter links).
- It sounds like pitcher Hiroki Kuroda is ready to finish his career as a member of the Hiroshima Carp, which would rule out an eventual MLB return. The veteran told Sanspo (Japanese link) his return should be “the last decision of his baseball life,” according to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (on Twitter).
- Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune sees Takashi Toritani filling two roles for the Padres: a reliable, experienced defender at shortstop and a legitimate leadoff bat from the left side. The Padres’ interest in the Japanese infielder, who is an unrestricted free agent, was reported yesterday.
- The Padres have become relevant again with their series of moves by new GM A.J. Preller making the collection of MLB California franchises the best in the game, writes Lyle Spencer of MLB.com.
- The Indians prefer to round out their roster through trades rather than free agency and could deal from their surplus of relievers and middle infielders (excluding Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez), reports Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the Orioles are still the team to beat in the AL East, a largely stagnant offseason which included losing two top players. The Orioles are, in part, banking on Chris Davis having a bounce back season in his walk year and they believe healthy seasons out of Manny Machado and Matt Wieters will elevate them. More from Cafardo..
- Agent Scott Boras thinks the market for Stephen Drew will heat up in January after teams have exhausted trade possibilities for a middle infielder. Boras hinted to Cafardo that a personal issue may have contributed to his offensive decline last season, though he declined to elaborate.
- The Indians would like to trade Nick Swisher after acquiring Brandon Moss from Oakland and the Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles, Padres, Brewers, and Cubs could all be possible trade partners. Swisher is owed about $30MM on his deal, however, so Cleveland might have to foot some of the bill.
- One National League GM told Cafardo that he inquired about Rays third baseman Evan Longoria and was rebuffed. The Rays have Longoria under contract at $11MM this year and $11.5MM next year before his extension kicks in in 2017, running through 2023.
- Cafardo writes that Jonny Gomes could wind up with former Red Sox Jon Lester and David Ross on the Cubs to add some veteran presence to a young outfield. “He’s still an effective player. He works for a team that’s on the verge and on a team like the Cubs or Astros who need a veteran presence,” said one National League GM.
- At some point, the Phillies might have to release Ryan Howard and eat more than $60MM in salary. Still, it’s not surprising to hear that a GM told Cafardo that an American League team would scoop him up as a DH if he is free.
The Mariners have unfinished business heading into the new year, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes. They’ll need to find a platoon partner for righty Justin Ruggiano in right field, with Seth Smith of the Padres as one possibility. They could also move Brad Miller to the outfield if he loses the shortstop job to Chris Taylor. The M’s could also find a catcher in the Humberto Quintero mold to provide depth at Triple-A Tacoma. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Signing Robinson Cano to a $240MM contract last offseason helped the Mariners press the reset button, Dutton writes. Led by Cano and their pitching staff, the Mariners improved by 16 games in 2014, although they just missed the last AL Wild Card berth.
- The remainder of the offseason could feature plenty of trades for outfielders, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports writes. The Phillies, Reds, Rays, Padres, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Indians and Angels could all have outfielders available, with about the same number of teams looming as potential buyers. Still, it might take time for the market to resolve itself — the key to the outfield market could be the rumors about the Padres trading a package centered around Wil Myers to the Phillies for Cole Hamels, and that might not be resolved until Max Scherzer and James Shields sign.
- Pirates reliever John Holdzkom has been released “five or six” times, he tells MLB.com’s Tom Singer. Some of those releases were no doubt even more depressing than such transactions usually might be. “I got released without the team even calling me. I looked on the Internet and saw my name next to ‘Transactions’ — five days before I was supposed to report,” says Holdzkom. “Yeah, that was bad.” And that team wasn’t even a Major League organization, but the independent Laredo Lemurs. Holdzkom emerged seemingly from out of nowhere to become a key part of the Pittsburgh bullpen down the stretch in 2014.
- The Indians‘ signings of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn haven’t worked out so far, at least not from a baseball perspective. But they were still the right moves, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. The signings prevented a big drop in the Indians’ season-ticket sales and helped them increase revenues while also helping make them more relevant. Bourn’s presence also allowed Michael Brantley to move to left field.
- Infielder Rafael Furcal has a torn hamstring and will miss Winter League playoffs in the Dominican, Dionisio Soldevila of ESPNDeportes.com tweets. Furcal had hamstring issues in the 2014 regular seasona and only made 37 plate appearances with the Marlins, so this latest injury could affect his attempt to come back next season.
The Indians have signed right-hander Jeff Manship to a minor league contract, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports. Manship elected free agency in October, and the 29-year-old is represented by the Boras Corporation.
Manship signed a minor league deal with the Phillies last winter and earned a spot on their Opening Day roster. He went on to post a 6.65 ERA, 16 strikeouts and 14 walks over 23 innings out of the Philadelphia bullpen before being designated for assignment and then outrighted off their roster in July.
Over 139 1/3 career innings with the Phillies, Rockies and Twins, Manship has 6.46 ERA, 5.8 K/9 and 1.55 K/BB rate. He is something of a reverse-splits pitcher, as right-handed batters have performed much better (.953 OPS) against Manship than left-handed batters (.753 OPS).