Cleveland Indians Rumors
SATURDAY, 2:01pm: The Indians announced via press release that the deal is official.
FRIDAY, 6:32pm: The Indians have agreed to terms with fifth overall draft pick Clint Frazier, Baseball America's Jim Callis reports (Twitter link). Frazier will receive a $3.5MM bonus, less than the $3.787MM assigned slot value price for the No. 5 pick (slot info courtesy of Baseball America). Frazier is advised by the ACES agency.
Frazier was widely heralded as one of the top members of this year's draft class, rated as the No. 4 overall prospect by both MLB.com and Baseball America. ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required), who rated Frazier at No. 7, described him as possessing "the best bat speed in the draft, [and] some of the best I've ever seen on an amateur player." Frazier even drew some buzz as a surprise choice to be taken by the Astros as the first overall pick, though Houston instead went with right-hander Mark Appel.
Frazier, 18, is a right-handed hitting outfielder out of Loganville High School in Georgia. He has above-average arm strength and running ability, according to BA's scouting report, and he is a threat at the plate due to his bat speed and "plus-plus raw power." While Frazier played center field in high school, he is projected as a corner outfielder in his pro career.
Once Frazier's deal is finalized, he will be the 14th player taken in the first round to have reached an agreement with his club.
The Indians announced that they have signed left-hander Clay Rapada as a minor league free agent. The 32-year-old has been assigned him to Triple-A Columbus.
Rapada went to camp this spring on the Yankees' 40-man roster and made ten appearances at Triple-A Scranton, posting a 4.66 ERA with four strikeouts and four walks in 9 and 2/3 innings. Rapada saw a career-high 38 1/3 big league innings for the Yankees last season, pitching to a 2.82 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9.
The Virginia State product has faced 251 left-handed hitters in his Major League career and held them to a .168/.257/.236 batting line. However, right-handers have found success against him, hitting .342/.459/.613 in 135 plate appearances.
Here's today's rundown of notable Day 2 and Day 3 draft picks to sign (all slot info courtesy of Baseball America's list of assigned pick values)...
- The Indians announced, via Twitter, that they have signed four draft picks, including right-hander Trevor Frank, who served as the closer for the UC Riverside this season.
- Baseball America's Jim Callis tweets that the Padres fourth-rounder Mason Smith received a $415K bonus. Smith signed slightly under the assigned pick value of $433K. The high school outfielder from Idaho was committed to Utah and projects to have a plus bat with average power. MLB.com's Corey Brock first reported the Smith signing, as noted below.
- Pirates ninth-rounder Chad Kuhl signed for the full slot value of $145K, tweets Callis, who adds that the Delaware right-hander generates a lot of ground-balls with his sinker.
- The Yankees have signed fourth-rounder Tyler Wade to a deal worth $371K, according to Callis (on Twitter). The high school shortstop's bonus matches the assigned value of his pick. Callis writes that Wade boasts plus speed and a plus arm with a line-drive bat.
- Callis tweets that the Mariners signed third-round pick Tyler O'Neill to an above-slot $650K bonus (assigned value was $631K). O'Neill, a prep catcher from Canada, has drawn comparisons to Brett Lawrie because of his bat and power. He's likely to end up in the outfield.
- The Diamondbacks have signed third-round pick and first baseman/outfielder Daniel Palka for $550K, Callis tweets. Arizona secured the Georgia Tech product under slot, as the assigned pick value for the No. 88 slot was $603K. Palka has big power and a strong arm that could profile in right field, Callis adds.
- The Reds went over slot to sign their fifth-round pick, according to Callis (Twitter link), inking prep shortstop Cory Thompson for $367K (slot was $275K). Callis adds that Thompson is a solid runner with a good glove and some pop in his bat, but he also has a fastball in the low 90s.
- MLB.com's Corey Brock tweets that the Padres have signed 20 draft picks, including Hofstra right-hander Bryan Verbitsky (No. 86 overall), high school center fielder Mason Smith (No. 118) San Francisco right-hander Adam Cimber (No. 268) and UNC right-hander Justin Livengood (No. 298). The slot values for those picks are $621K, $433K, $146K and $134K, respectively.
- Two of those 20 picks that Brock mentions are Memphis lefty Erik Schoenrock (11th round) and junior college lefty Payton Baskette, tweets Callis. Each pick signed for an even $100K.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Indians announced that they have acquired John McDonald from the Pirates in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later. McDonald will help bolster the club in the middle of the infield in the wake of Asdrubal Cabrera's right quadriceps injury.
The 38-year-old has appeared in just 16 games for the Pirates so far this season. Over the course of his 15 year major league career, McDonald owns a .237/.275/.328 slash line. Last year, the veteran hit .249/.295/.386 in 70 games for the D'Backs with above-average defense at shortstop.
The Diamondbacks got a great value by picking Nevada pitcher Braden Shipley with the No. 15 pick in the first round of this weekend's draft, Keith Law of ESPN says in his NL draft roundup (Insider-only). He also praises the Phillies for their first several picks (which began with California high school shortstop J.P. Crawford at No. 16), and says the Giants (whose draft class was headlined by Florida high school shortstop Christian Arroyo) had his least favorite draft of any team this year. Be sure to check out the rest of Law's post for his analysis of other NL teams' picks this weekend. Here are more notes on the draft.
- The Indians took Georgia high school outfielder Clint Frazier with the fifth overall pick this year, and made what might turn out to be an excellent pick when they took Francisco Lindor in the first round in 2011. But right now, they don't have any of their former first-rounders on their 25-man roster, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer points out. C.C. Sabathia (1998) and Jeremy Guthrie (2002) are currently on other teams' rosters, however.
- In the 34th round on Saturday, the Diamondbacks selected Arizona State center fielder Cory Hahn. Hahn was paralyzed from the chest down while attempting a stolen base in a Sun Devils game in 2011. The pick was a meaningful one, both for the Diamondbacks and for Hahn, MLB.com's Tyler Emerick reports. "It's something that you can't really put into words, it was very humbling that they wanted to do this for me," says Hahn. "It's something I'll always cherish. No one made them do it, so the fact that they did -- I'll be forever thankful."
Here are Wednesday's minor moves...
- The Indians have signed infielder Paddy Matera and assigned him to Class A Carolina, the team announced (on Twitter). Matera, 25, has been playing independent ball since 2010, primarily with the Camden Riversharks of the Atlantic League. He's hitting .304/.365/.525 in 40 games this season and is a career .277/.358/.414 hitter in independent ball. The New Jersey native has extensive experience at second base, shortstop and third base.
- The Mariners selected the contract of catcher Brandon Bantz, optioned Carlos Triunfel to Triple-A Tacoma and transferred Franklin Gutierrez to the 60-day DL. There was speculation that Mike Zunino could be on his way to the bigs with Jesus Sucre injuring his hand, but Bantz gets the call for now.
- Six players currently reside in DFA limbo: Chris Snyder of the Orioles, Zach Duke and Henry Rodriguez of the Nationals, Tyler Robertson of the Twins, Tyler Greene of the White Sox and Vinnie Catricala of the Mariners.
From earlier today in the two Central divisions, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer sat down for a podcast with ESPN's Buster Olney, the Brewers are looking to the future and Jake Peavy is willing to be traded anywhere if the White Sox see fit to move him. Here are some other items from both the AL and NL Central...
- Francisco Liriano's 2014 option with the Pirates will vest for $6MM if the southpaw can avoid spending 120 days on the disabled list this season, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. Liriano signed a complicated deal with the Bucs in February that only guaranteed him $1MM in 2013 but could've been worth as much as $12.75MM if Liriano stayed healthy. His stint on the DL this season already cost him around $1.625MM this season and an extra $2MM for 2014.
- Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter threw to live batters on Monday, The Associated Press reports, and may repeat the process if his shoulder doesn't become numb. Carpenter was thought to be out for all of 2013 and was pondering retirement due to ongoing shoulder injuries, but the former Cy Young Award winner has taken several positive steps in his comeback.
- The Twins had some interest in Quintin Berry before the Royals claimed the outfielder off waivers earlier today, 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson tweets.
- Scott Kazmir credits his development of secondary pitches and better pitching strategies for his return to the Major Leagues, Howard Megdal of Sports On Earth writes. Kazmir has a 5.13 ERA in eight starts with the Indians this season but his secondary numbers are good enough that MLBTR's Steve Adams believes he could earn a decent free agent contract this winter.
- "Lots of changes figure to occur" with the Royals if the team can't get on track, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes as part of a reader mailbag. If they make a big move like trading Ervin Santana, Dutton figures K.C. would look to acquire a slugging corner outfielder or a second baseman in return.
- Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago covers several White Sox and Cubs topics and rumors in his live chat about Windy City baseball.
Today's minor moves...
- The Pirates placed right-hander Phil Irwin on the 60-day disabled list, the club announced. Irwin made his Major League debut this season, allowing four earned runs over 4 2/3 innings in a start on April 14. Irwin, a 21st-round draft pick in 2009, has a 2.97 ERA and 5.03 K/BB rate over 423 2/3 minor league innings.
- The Indians signed Taiwanese shortstop Yu-Cheng Chang for $500K, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. The Tribe has been one of the more active teams in Taiwan in recent years, notes Badler. Chang doesn't have a plus tool currently, hears Badler, and projects as a doubles hitter who may have to move off shortstop.
- The Diamondbacks outrighted righty Eric Smith off the 40-man roster, tweets Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The 24-year-old former second-round draft pick has a 7.29 ERA in 21 Double-A innings.
- The Royals opened a 40-man roster spot for Salvador Perez, who returned from bereavement, by transferring lefty Danny Duffy to the 60-day DL, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
- Mark Teahen was released from the Rangers' Triple-A club yesterday, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. He'd been signed to a minor league deal on May 23rd, after asking for and being granted his release from the D'Backs a few days prior. Teahen, 31, has a .198/.293/.226 line in Triple-A this year across 123 plate appearances. He was a key figure in the June 2004 trade that sent Carlos Beltran to the Astros from the Royals.
- Speaking of the D'Backs' Triple-A affiliate, the Reno Aces signed first baseman Mike Jacobs, according to that same transactions page. Jacobs, 32, last appeared in the Majors with Arizona briefly last year. He signed a minor league deal with the Mariners in January but was released in March and subsequently played in the Mexican League this year. Jacobs, a 38th round draft pick of the Mets in 1999, joined the Marlins in the November 2005 Carlos Delgado trade. In October 2008, the Royals acquired Jacobs from the Marlins for reliever Leo Nunez, who is now known as Juan Carlos Oviedo.
- Six players currently reside in DFA limbo: Mark Lowe of the Angels, Tyler Greene of the White Sox, Vinnie Catricala of the Mariners, Tyler Robertson of the Twins, and Zach Duke and Henry Rodriguez of the Nationals.
TUESDAY: Romero's deal with the Indians will become official if he passes a physical, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports (Twitter link). Romero will report to Triple-A Columbus on Thursday.
MONDAY: Left-hander J.C. Romero has opted out of his minor league contract with the Nationals and is working to finalize a new minor league deal with the Indians, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
Romero, who turns 37 tomorrow, had a 2.84 ERA with 16 strikeouts and four walks in 12 2/3 innings for Washington's Triple-A affiliate this season. According to Rosenthal, Romero would likely be ticketed for Cleveland's Triple-A affiliate in Columbus. Amanda Comak of the Washington Times notes (on Twitter) that Romero is on the minor league disabled list.
In parts of 14 Major League seasons, Romero has a 4.16 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 5.1 BB/9. He's held opposing lefties to a .220/.314/.298 in his career. Most of his 661 1/3 career innings were spent with the Twins, who selected the Puerto Rico native in the 21st round of the 1997 draft. Romero is the only player with a significant MLB career to come from that round, although outfielder Mike Colangelo saw some brief time in the big leagues as well.
The rise and fall of Scott Kazmir was a well-known tale when he signed a minor league deal with the Indians this offseason. After being infamously traded for Victor Zambrano in one of the more lopsided trades of the past 10 years, he quickly ascended to ace status with the Rays. He began to lose velocity in the 2008 season, and his control became increasingly problematic.
Kazmir was traded to the Angels, and things only got worse for him in Anaheim. 2010 would be the last full season he threw in the Major Leagues, and he posted a ghastly 5.94 ERA in 150 innings with a fastball that had lost more than two miles per hour from his peak. Despite speculation that he lost arm strength, Kazmir told David Laurila of Fangraphs that wasn't the case:
“I didn’t really ever lose arm strength, it’s more I lost my ability to use my body. I lost my ability to use my lower half — everything was upper body — and everything started swinging side to side; I didn’t have a good direction to the plate."
Kazmir ultimately wound up pitching for the Sugar Land Skeeters in 2012 as he contemplated his future. He had thrown just 1 2/3 Major League innings since 2010 when he signed with Cleveland, but it looks like he could be in for a full season of work. He's thrown 40 1/3 innings for the Tribe over eight starts. His 5.13 ERA isn't all that impressive, but he's averaging 91.7 mph on his fastball. Sabermetric stats like FIP (4.56), xFIP (3.96) and SIERA (3.79) all feel that Kazmir has been unlucky. Indeed, his .362 BABIP and 14.9 percent HR/FB both seem due for a correction.
Kazmir is still just 29 years old and won't be 30 until next January. If he's able to keep himself off the disabled list and see his BABIP and HR/FB regress toward the league averages (.292 and 11.0, respectively), Kazmir should draw significant interest on the free agent market. Paul Maholm figures to be the best lefty on the market, but Kazmir could stake his claim as the second-best free agent lefty.
Another enigmatic left-hander, Francisco Liriano, was able to secure a two-year deal worth $12.75MM with the Pirates this offseason despite posting an ERA over 5.00 from 2011-12 (he later had to re-work his deal after breaking his non-throwing arm). Even if Kazmir continues at his current rate, Liriano's deal seems attainable. If he can lower his ERA while maintaining his 9.1 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9, a higher annual salary or a third year could be in store.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.