Cleveland Indians Rumors
As we close in on the month of May, let's check in on the players who have vesting options for the 2014 season...
- Kurt Suzuki, Nationals: $9.25MM option vests with 113 starts in 2013. Prior to Opening Day, the Nats announced that Suzuki would be in a timeshare with Wilson Ramos behind the plate. However, Ramos' hamstring has led to Suzuki starting 16 of the club's 23 games so far in 2013. Ramos is scheduled to rejoin the club on Monday, but if he suffers another setback, Suzuki could have a realistic shot at triggering his '14 option.
- Jamey Carroll, Twins: $2MM option vests with 401 plate appearances. Carroll has surpassed that mark in each of the last three seasons with 500+ plate appearances in each of the last two years, but he has just 18 PAs as April comes to a close.
- Wilson Betemit, Orioles: $3.2MM option vests with 324 plate appearances (combined 700 between 2012 and 2013). Betemit suffered a PCL tear during the last week of Spring Training, keeping him out of action until at least mid-May. When he returns, he figures to see less action than he did last year thanks to Manny Machado.
- Lance Berkman, Rangers: $13MM option vests with 550 plate appearances. So far, Berkman has 19 games under his belt with 80 plate appearances. He'll be within reach as long as he stays healthy. In 2011, his last full season, Berkman racked up 587 PAs for the Cardinals.
- Roy Halladay, Phillies: $20MM option vests with 259 innings pitched (combined 415 innings pitched between '12 and '13). So far, Halladay has logged 28 and 1/3 innings through five April starts but the 259 mark remains a longshot. However, it's worth nothing that Halladay has come close to that figure twice in the last six years (2008, 246 IP; 2010, 250.2 IP) and surpassed it once in his career (2003, 266 IP).
- Brett Myers, Indians: $8MM option vests with 200 innings pitched in 2013 and a passed physical after the season. Myers is expected to miss most of May due to tendinitis and a mild ligament sprain in his right elbow. So far, the right-hander has 21 and 1/3 innings to his credit in 2013.
- Barry Zito, Giants: $18MM option vests with 200 innings pitched. Zito has 23 and 2/3 innings so far through the month of April and will make his fifth start of the year tonight against the Padres.
- Johan Santana, Mets: His $25MM option could have vested with 215 innings pitched or winning the 2013 Cy Young Award, but he won't have a chance at that thanks to a season-ending tear in his pitching shoulder.
It's also worth noting that Francisco Liriano has a $8MM club option for 2014 with the Pirates, but it can vest at any of three levels, $5MM, $6MM, or $8MM, based on the number of days he is not on the DL this year with a recurrence of his right arm injury. It's not known how many days the hurler must steer clear of right arm trouble in order to trigger each level of his option, however. Liriano has yet to take the hill in 2013, but he is expected to make his big league debut on May 10th vs. the Mets.
Jayson Stark leads his latest column for ESPN with a discussion of the ten managers currently in the last year of their contracts, noting that teams these days are more willing to allow skippers' contracts to expire. Also from Stark's column:
- One American League executive would rather give a $100MM contract to James Shields than Zack Greinke, because Greinke sometimes "seems a little disinterested" while Shields is regarded as more of a competitor. Shields is on track for free agency after the 2014 season, assuming the Royals exercise a club option for about $13.5MM after this season.
- An NL exec wouldn't give up Travis D'Arnaud or Zack Wheeler for Giancarlo Stanton.
- A Justin Masterson-Dexter Fowler trade between the Indians and Rockies "was talked about extensively early in the offseason," according to Stark. Masterson is under the Indians' control through 2014, while the Rockies control Fowler through 2015.
- In regard to shortstop Jean Segura, Brewers GM Doug Melvin commented, "I see people talk about the [Jurickson] Profars and even the Dee Gordons. But they never talk about him. He's an exciting player." Melvin acquired Segura, John Hellweg, and Ariel Pena from the Angels for Greinke last summer.
We'll keep track of today's minor moves here...
- The Indians announced that right-hander Fernando Nieve has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Columbus (Twitter link). Nieve was designated for assignment on Monday when Matt Albers (whose roster spot he briefly took) was re-instated from the restricted list. Nieve has a career 4.61 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 185 2/3 innings for the Astros and Mets. He has not appeared in a Major League game since the 2010 season.
Nieve, 30, was signed to a minor league deal this past November. Nieve was called up after Albers was placed on the restricted list (which does not count against a team's 40-man roster) to tend to a family emergency. He did not appear in a game for the Tribe in his brief time at the MLB level.
Nieve has a career 4.61 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 185 2/3 innings for the Astros and Mets. He has not appeared in a Major League game since the 2010 season.
Daniel Nava, whose three-run homer helped the Red Sox to a dramatic victory Saturday, has come a long way since repeatedly considering retirement, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes. Nava played independent-league baseball in 2007 and considered quitting before catching on with the Red Sox in 2008. Then, after playing with the Red Sox in 2010 and spending 2011 with Triple-A Pawtucket, he didn't get invited to Major League spring training in 2012, and he considered quitting again. He ended up staying, and spent much of the 2012 season with the big-league team, hitting .243/.352/.390. This year, he's an important part of the Red Sox outfield. Here are more notes from around the majors.
- Outfielder Julio Borbon had a "whirlwind day" after being claimed off waivers on Friday, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat writes. After learning he'd been claimed by the Cubs, Borbon got to Milwaukee's Miller Park in the eighth inning Friday night. Manager Dale Sveum, who had been ejected, told Borbon to suit up. Borbon did, and entered the game as a pinch-runner, then ended the game when he got thrown out trying to steal. Borbon expressed excitement at being claimed by the Cubs because he's a fan of President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein. "My fiance, she’s from Boston, and she knew him, and she was the first one to tell me he had done great things for the city of Boston," said Borbon. "From his background and his resume, he’s on his way to doing the same thing here."
- Jason Giambi of the Indians looks forward to becoming a coach one day, but for now he's enjoying the end of his big-league career, Gene Duffey of MLB.com writes. Giambi interviewed for the Rockies' manager position last year (the job went to Walt Weiss) and has declined coaching jobs with other teams while he continues to play. "I want to enjoy this while I can," says Giambi. "Unfortunately, this game will let you know when it's time to walk away. Sometimes it's not your choice. I've been lucky enough and blessed enough to be in my 19th Major League season. And I'm going to enjoy every minute."
The White Sox are back at home after a 3-7 road trip, and they were 7-9 overall heading into an afternoon matchup against the Twins. But GM Rick Hahn says he isn't concerned about his team's slow start, MLB.com's Scott Merkin reports. "With just about 10 percent of the season played, I don't think you can draw any grand conclusions about where things sit right now," Hahn said. And with so small a sample, Hahn isn't about to start making big moves. "It certainly is a temptation to explore other options, but it's way too soon to avert from the plan except when forced to due to injury," he says. Here are more notes from the American League.
- The Angels' lack of pitching talent could cost GM Jerry Dipoto, manager Mike Scioscia, and pitching coach Mike Butcher their jobs, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times argues. The Angels are currently 6-10, and their starting rotation has a 5.62 ERA. But DiGiovanna says owner Arte Moreno might ultimately be most responsible for the Angels' current roster construction, as Moreno's "infatuation with marquee names" led the team to sign hitters Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton to enormous contracts. Instead of signing Hamilton, the Angels could have tried to retain Zack Greinke, who ended up heading north to the Dodgers. Among Dipoto, Scioscia and Butcher, Butcher's seat is the hottest, DiGiovanna says. Firing Scioscia seems much less likely, due to Scioscia's enormous $50MM contract.
- Scott Kazmir will make his Indians debut tonight, and it will be his first big-league appearance in over two years, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes. After being released by the Angels in May 2011, Kazmir pitched for the independent-league Sugar Land Skeeters in 2012. He won a spot in the Indians' rotation out of camp, but his 2013 debut was delayed by a rib cage injury.
Here's a look at today's minor moves..
- Right-hander Andrew Kown has been released from the Fresno Grizzlies (the Giants' Triple-A affiliate), the team announced on Twitter. The 30-year-old Kown has a 4.75 ERA in 396 Triple-A innings and has spent time with the Tigers and Nationals in addition to the Giants.
- The Indians acquired catcher Chris Wallace from the Astros in exchange for minor league left-hander Eric Berger, according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. The addition of Wallace gives the Tribe catching depth following injuries to Lou Marson and Carlos Santana. Berger, who turns 27 next week, had a 5.27 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 last season in Double-A and Triple-A.
The 2013 Blue Jays are the only team since 2009 to make three or more waiver claims in April, R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus notes. The Jays have claimed Casper Wells, Edgar Gonzalez and Mauro Gomez this month. The Jays are typically very active on the waiver wire, frequently claiming players and then trying to sneak them through waivers again in an attempt to build depth in their minor-league system. (Toronto also claimed four players in the last half of March: Todd Redmond, Guillermo Moscoso, Alex Burnett and Clint Robinson. Moscoso and Burnett were lost after other teams claimed them.) The Jays' waiver-claim strategy is unusual for a contending team, Anderson says. Here are more notes from around the American League.
- Orioles manager Buck Showalter reiterates that 1B/OF Conor Jackson retired at least in part because his enjoyment of the game diminished, MASN's Roch Kubatko reports. "[Jackson] loved being with the organization and all that, but he's at the stage of his life where it wasn't something he wanted to continue to do," says Showalter. "I just wanted to know whether there was something he was unhappy about. It wasn't at all. He had been thinking about it for a little while and just didn't enjoy going to the park like he used to." Jackson appeared in nine games this year for Triple-A Norfolk, hitting .200/.333/.240.
- Rule 5 Draft pick T.J. McFarland, from the Indians' system, remains in the Orioles' bullpen, notes MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. He has appeared in just one game so far, throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings April 6. The Orioles' recent trade of Luis Ayala to the Braves gives McFarland some breathing room, but he'll still have to pitch well to remain on Baltimore's roster the entire year. "We've been throwing him down in the bullpen. Keeping the ball in his hand," Showalter tells Ghiroli. "There will come a time this season, I hope, when it's not always saving him for long relief."
- Indians manager Terry Francona isn't fixated on his past with the Red Sox, against whom the Indians have an upcoming series, MLB.com's Zack Meisel reports. "To be honest, I'm an Indian," says Francona. "I'm aware of the questions and everything, and I have a lot of great memories, but I don't think it's fair to the players. ... They don't need to be worrying about me having nostalgia week. They just need to try to beat them." The Red Sox let Francona go in 2011, and after a season working for ESPN, he took over as manager in Cleveland.
Whitenack's stay in Cleveland was short as he was just claimed off of waivers by the Tribe on April 3rd. The 24-year-old struggled through 51 1/3 innings at High-A Daytona last season, posting a 5.96 ERA with 5.4 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9.
Whitenack, ranked 23rd among Cubs prospects this offseason by Baseball America, underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011. The publication noted that his velocity was averaging just 90 mph after touching 96 mph in 2011 and that his slider had lost bite. If he can rediscover his 2011 form, BA feels that he has the ceiling of a No. 3 starter.
A collection of links pertaining to baseball's Eastern divisions...
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post praises the Mets for leaving top prospect in the minor leagues and questions why the Marlins have chosen to start Jose Fernandez's service clock early. Sherman argues that non-contenders should be more mindful of the financial rammifications -- especially the Marlins, for whom money will likely continue to be an issue.
- Nick Swisher told reporters (including Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger) that "it hurt" when the Yankees didn't make him an offer to return (beyond the one-year, $13.3MM qualifying offer to receive draft pick compensation). Swisher said he's no longer thinking about the Yankees and is focused on winning with the Indians, who have treated him "like a king" thus far.
- Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino told Jerry Spar of WEEI that baseball is "fun again" in Boston. Lucchino also praised general manager Ben Cherington's work in last summer's trade with the Dodgers, noting that they would have been happy to receive just one of Allen Webster or Rubby De La Rosa but wound up with both.
- In this week's Nationals mailbox, MLB.com's Bill Ladson writes that the team has given no thought to cutting ties with flamethrower Henry Rodriguez. Manager Davey Johnson loves Rodriguez's arm, according to Ladson, so the organization plans to stick with him.