Cleveland Indians Rumors
Between now and Opening Day, several minor league signees will win jobs with their clubs and earn 40-man roster spots. Here are today's additions:
- Reliever Jose Valverde will make the Mets Opening Day roster, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPN.com. The 36-year-old will occupy a 40-man slot. Last year, in 19 1/3 innings with the Tigers, Valverde threw to a 5.59 ERA. But he allowed only three earned runs in nine innings this spring, and more importantly struck out seven against just one walk.
- The Indians have informed reliever Scott Atchison that he will be on the Opening Day roster, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports on Twitter. Accordingly, Atchison will need to be placed on the club's 40-man. The soon-to-be 38-year-old was non-tendered by the Mets before hooking on with Cleveland on a minor league deal. He had a strong spring, allowing just two runs and one walk in eight innings while striking out eight batters.
Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement contains a provision that allows certain free agents who are signed to minor league contracts to receive a $100K retention bonus if they are not on the team's 25-man roster or the Major League disabled list five days prior to the season.
Free agents who qualify for this distinction are those who have at least six years of Major League service time and had a Major League contract expire at the end of the previous season, but signed a minor league deal ten or more days prior to Opening Day.
MLBTR has confirmed with MLB that the deadline for teams to decide on these players is today at 11am central time. By the deadline, teams with these players in camp need to decide whether to:
- Add the player to their 25-man roster or Major League disabled list (or agree to do so in writing).
- Grant the player his outright release from the minor league contract so that he may pursue opportunities with other teams.
- Pay the player a $100K retention bonus to keep him in the organization beyond the deadline and send him to the minors.
Here's the latest news from around the league on Article XX(B) signees and their roster statuses with their respective teams (newest updates on top).
- Delmon Young receives a $100K bonus from the Orioles, tweets Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com.
- The Rockies have decided to pay righty Nick Masset a $100K retention bonus to keep him in the organization, rather than releasing him or guaranteeing him an active roster spot, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com.
- As posted already, Endy Chavez and Humberto Quintero of the Mariners have been released rather than receiving the roster bonus to be held in the minors.
- The Indians have announced that DH Jason Giambi will be placed on the DL retroactive to March 21, meaning that the team will need to add him to its 40-man roster.
- John McDonald has been added to the Angels' 40-man roster and will be the club's utility infielder on Opening Day, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). The club has already released its three other Article XX(B) free agents.
- The Mets have elected to pay pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka a $100K retention bonus rather than guaranteeing him an Opening Day roster spot or releasing him, the club announced on Twitter. Matsuzaka, who signed as an Article XX(B) free agent, will apparently compete with Jenrry Mejia for the fifth and final rotation slot right up until the start of the season.
- Zach Duke has been informed that he has made the Brewers, tweets MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Duke will be the third lefty (and, potentially, long man) in the pen.
- Earlier today we learned that Jason Kubel would make the Twins Opening Day roster.
Indians manager Terry Francona said today that Carlos Santana will serve as the club's everyday third baseman, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports on Twitter. Francona emphasized that Santana will not platoon with Lonnie Chisenhall, but said that he will also serve as the team's backup catcher.
Needless to say, it appears that Cleveland's lineup construction will be interesting to watch as the season progresses. Of course, if Santana really does see regular part-time catching duties while playing every day in the field, any benefits from reduced wear and tear could be countered by the physical and mental burden of taking on a new position and receiving little rest. And if the team gives him some straight off days to account for this unusual challenge, rather than slotting him in at DH, it stands to lose his bat on those occasions.
For his part, Chisenhall will make the squad but faces a "fluid" playing time situation, according to a Bastian tweet. We broke down some of the potential hot stove implications of this possible move back in January.
TUESDAY: De La Cruz has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, the Orioles announced.
SATURDAY: The Orioles have claimed David Adams from the Indians on outright waivers, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets. The move clears space on the Indians' 40-man roster for infielder Elliot Johnson. The Orioles have announced that, to make room on their roster for Adams, they have designated pitcher Kelvin De La Cruz for assignment. De La Cruz, 25, posted a 2.67 ERA with 11.2 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 in the high minors of the Dodgers system in 2013. The lefty was out of options.
Adams, 26, hit just .193/.252/.286 in 152 plate appearances with the Yankees in 2013, but more robust .268/.366/.405 in 255 plate appearances at Triple-A Scranton / Wilkes-Barre. The Indians signed him to a big-league deal in December after the Yankees non-tendered him.
Both De La Cruz and Adams were signed to big-league deals this offseason despite a lack of MLB experience (De La Cruz has none). It's a strange coincidence, then, that both would be involved in the same transaction. In January, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes looked at the trend of signing young-ish players with little or no MLB experience to big-league deals.
One hidden key to the Royals' emergence has been the club's dedication to Latin American scouting, signing, and player development under GM Dayton Moore (and special assistant Rene Francisco), writes Rany Jazayerli of RanyontheRoyals.com. Jazayerli breaks down the team's long history of virtually no significant spending on Latin American players, and how increased investments -- especially on lower-priced players like Salvador Perez, Yordano Ventura, Miguel Almonte, and Jorge Bonifacio (total commitment: $253K) -- have been critical to building the team's overall talent base. Here's more from the American League Central:
- Max Scherzer requested an eight-year deal in his negotiations with the Tigers, reports Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Twitter links). The Tigers' reported offer was for six years and $144MM. If the sides were in agreement on the $24MM AAV, that would hypothetically put Scherzer's demands on total gaurantee at $192MM. Scherzer has injury protection through an insurance policy, Bowden adds, which perhaps has increased his willingness to wait for a larger deal on the open market.
- Meanwhile, the White Sox were able to secure seven years of control rights over their own prized starter, Jose Quintana, for a total guarantee that maybe as low as $21MM (if he does not qualify for Super Two status). Of course, unlike Scherzer, Quintana has just 1.133 years of service and did not win the AL Cy Young last year. Nevertheless, the deal looks like a smart investment for a Chicago club that has purchased prime years of several players at seemingly reasonable rates. As Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports, GM Rick Hahn sees the value in early extensions, which "frees us up to allocate our resources to other needs." Hahn explained: "You've seen the magnitude of what some of these deals have gotten to in free agency. It makes sense to try to get out in front of that sometimes, to try to get the price points locked in before the market continues to grow ... ."
- Twins assistant GM Rob Antony had several updates today, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Infielder Jason Bartlett has agreed to push back his March 25 opt-out to the March 30 Opening Day roster deadline, which gives both sides more time to assess their options. Meanwhile, the club is still in discussions on a new deal with reliever Matt Guerrier, who was released because the club did not want to pay the Article XX(B) free agent signee a $100K retention bonus to stash him in the minors.
- Though the Twins have had some exploratory discussions about an extension with second baseman Brian Dozier, the 26-year-old tells Berardino that a deal is probably not happening at this point. That is not surprising, as Dozier has just 1.100 on his service clock and still has some questions to answer as a player. But he indicated that there is a positive vibe between the two sides and a hope that talks could pick up in the future. "We had some talks or whatever," he said. "Obviously nothing took place but it was a bunch of good postive feedback on both ends.It's very unlikely anything will be coming soon or during the season or anything. We'll let another year play out and see where it goes. That was just a thing to see where everybody was. I think [the Twins] would be in the near future open to it and we definitely are."
- The Indians were one of the clubs vying for Scott Baker's services before the offseason, and just released Aaron Harang. Nevertheless, Cleveland will not pursue the starter at this point, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Baker was released today by the Mariners after deciding he would rather test the market than accept an assignment to Triple-A.
Between now and Opening Day, several minor league signees will win jobs with their clubs and earn 40-man roster spots. Here are today's additions:
- Nyjer Morgan will make the Opening Day roster for the Indians and will therefore need to be added to the club's 40-man, according to a report on Twitter from MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. With Michael Bourn set to open the year on the DL, Morgan figures to play center until Bourn returns, though that may only be for a few games and it is not clear whether he'll have a roster spot beyond that point.
- The Marlins are expected to add outfielder Reed Johnson to their 40-man and Opening Day rosters, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. As an Article XX(B) free agent, Johnson would have been subject to tomorrow's roster decision deadline, though Cotillo notes that Johnson's deal actually gives him a March 24th opt out that strengthens his collectively bargained protections.
Righty Aaron Harang asked for and was granted his release from the Indians, tweets MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. The move was expected after Harang was told yesterday he would not make the team's Opening Day roster. Even if Harang was willing to go to Triple-A, the Indians likely would have released him rather than paying the $100K retention bonus.
Harang, 36 in May, signed a minor league deal with Cleveland in February and allowed two runs in nine innings this spring. The veteran posted a 5.40 ERA, 7.1 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 1.63 HR/9, and 36% groundball rate in 143 1/3 innings for the Mariners and Mets last year.
- "Word is there is some early optimism" in contract talks between the Tigers and superstar Miguel Cabrera, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman believes Cabrera should top Alex Rodriguez's $27.5MM average annual value, but probably won't be able to score a ten-year deal. With Cabrera already signed through 2015, a new deal would begin with his age-33 campaign. The Tigers recently broke off talks with pitcher Max Scherzer, who is eligible for free agency after this season.
- Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis says everyone on the team was rooting for Justin Masterson to get a deal done, but added, "Everyone in this room, at one point of time, has experienced the business side of this game," talking to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Kipnis offered nothing to reveal the state of his own contract negotiations, which have the typical Opening Day deadline. The Tribe opens their season in Oakland a week from today. Kipnis remains under team control through 2017.
- Infielder Eduardo Escobar and veteran Jason Kubel have made the Twins, tweets La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Escobar is out of options, while Kubel is subject to tomorrow's $100K retention bonus deadline. Neal's colleague Phil Miller has quotes from non-roster invitee Jason Bartlett, who appears to be on the losing end of the team's backup infielder battle.
- Twins second baseman Brian Dozier calls an extension "very unlikely," but he remains open to midseason talks, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Dozier, 27 in May, is already under team control through 2018.
- "For the way we're set up with our finances and our payroll, starting pitching costs a lot of money to maintain, so that's why it's important to develop it," Royals assistant general manager for scouting and player development J.J. Picollo tells MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis. Callis names Yordano Ventura, Kyle Zimmer, Sean Manaea, and Miguel Almonte as the team's top young arms.
- For the White Sox, "the most recent [roster] cuts stem from the decision to retain a third first baseman based on latent talisman powers," writes Jim Margalus of South Side Sox in reference to the team's decision to bring Paul Konerko back.
- What is it like finding out you've been traded? "I was literally on the field, taking ground balls, when the GM, Jerry (Dipoto) comes running out, pulls me off the field with (manager Mike Scioscia)," new Tigers infielder Andrew Romine tells Dick Scanlon of the Detroit Free Press. He added, "We go in and have a meeting and right away: 'Hey, we’re trading you over to Detroit for a left-handed pitcher.'"
- For a reminder which AL Central players are out of options, check out my post from March 6th.
New Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski is virtually the peer of special advisor Jason Varitek -- the two are only four years apart in age. But Pierzynski has still sought out Varitek's advice this spring, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. "He’s one of those guys, he came before me, so you kind of always looked up to him," Pierzynski says. "To be able to be in the same organization and be able to talk to him and learn things from him, it's huge. You can always get better and he was one of the best, so anything he can bring to the table to help me I’m definitely going to take and use." Here are more notes from the American League.
- The Indians have told starting pitcher Aaron Harang, who had been competing for their fifth starter job, that he won't make the team's 25-man roster, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets. Harang has the ability to opt out of minor-league deal on Monday.
- The Yankees are willing to eat part of Ichiro Suzuki's $6.5MM 2014 salary in the right trade, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. No deal appears to be imminent, however. Ichiro, who hit .262/.297/.342 with the Yankees in 2013, does not have a starting role this season.
- Orioles manager Buck Showalter says "vultures" are interested in his team's out-of-options players, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes. "I know a lot of vultures are lurking around with our out-of-option guys. We've got quite an attendance here," Showalter says. "I get a list of the scouts every day, and if anything, it's gotten more. We had 17 here the other day." Two weeks ago, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted that the Orioles' out-of-options players included Edgmer Escalona, Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Troy Patton, Nolan Reimold, Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, David Lough, Brian Matusz, Steve Pearce, Francisco Peguero and Josh Stinson. Obviously, the Orioles are in no danger of losing someone like Davis, and Escalona and Peguero appear likely to start the season on the disabled list. But the Orioles will have to make decisions about players like Pearce and some of the pitchers. The team recently designated another out-of-options player, Kelvin De La Cruz, for assignment.
- "I thought way too short term with the Garza deal last year. That one's got a chance to haunt us and haunt me," Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic in reference to his trade with the Cubs. Daniels gave up C.J. Edwards, Mike Olt, Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez for Garza. Olt could soon make an impact in the big leagues, but it's Edwards and Ramirez who might turn out to be the keys to the deal -- Edwards was terrific down the stretch last year for Class A+ Daytona, and Ramirez has pitched well in spring training after posting a terrific strikeout rate in Double-A last season.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
GM Terry Ryan, who is recovering from cancer treatments, made a recent visit to Twins spring training and talked about his current role with the team, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Ryan says he sometimes hears information that might be useful, but since he isn't in camp with the team, he merely relays it to assistant GM Rob Antony and the rest of the Twins' staff. "It would be unfair for me to sit in Minnesota not having seen one game and start dictating to Rob and Mike (Radcliff) and Wayne (Krivsky) and Jack (Goin) and Bill (Smith) and people around here that have seen a lot of baseball," Ryan says. "I say, ‘Here’s what I’ve heard. Here’s what they’re looking for.’ And I pass it on." Here are more notes from around the American League.
- Michael Bourn's contract is unlikely to end up hurting the Indians to the degree that Travis Hafner's did, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes. Although there are reasons to worry about how Bourn will age, his defense means he isn't a "one-way player" the way Hafner was.
- Reliever Mark Lowe's contract with the Rays allows him to opt out on March 31 if he does not make their 25-man roster, MLBTR's Chris Cotillo tweets. Lowe appeared in just 11 games for the Angels in 2013, but he received plenty of playing time out of the Rangers' bullpen in 2011 and 2012. He has a 4.17 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in parts of eight big-league seasons.
- Catcher Yorvit Torrealba can ask to be released tomorrow if the Angels do not add him to their roster, tweets MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. Torrealba does not want to go to the minor leagues, and will instead wait for an opportunity in the bigs. Torrealba, 35, hit .240/.295/.285 in 196 plate appearances as the backup to Wilin Rosario in Colorado in 2013.