Cleveland Indians Rumors
Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar is grateful for the December 1989 trade in which the Padres shipped him to Cleveland with Carlos Baerga and Chris James for Joe Carter, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. In 1988, Baseball America named Alomar its Minor League Player Of The Year after a strong year in Triple-A Las Vegas, but he was blocked by Benito Santiago, so the Padres sent him back to Triple-A, and Alomar won the Minor League Player Of The Year award a second time. When the Padres finally dealt him to Cleveland, Alomar says, he "didn't know much about the Indians, I just knew it was the major leagues." But he had an opportunity there, and in 1990 he won the AL Rookie Of The Year award. Alomar spent 11 seasons with the Indians as a player, then returned to the Indians as a coach in 2010. Here are more notes from around the majors.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. shouldn't wait to address the team's problems, Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer argues. "What they can't do is let a handful of spare-part relievers continue to work themselves into dubious shape while the season slow-drips away," Sheridan says, adding that there's a fine line between "maintaining perspective" and doing nothing while a season comes apart. It's early in the year to be making big trades (or drawing radical conclusions from the season thus far), but Sheridan suggests the Phillies might make do in the meantime by cycling through some relievers currently at Triple-A.
- GM Jed Hoyer says the Cubs are honing in on potential choices with the second overall pick in the upcoming June draft, Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com reports. "We are narrowing it down," says Hoyer. "We haven’t narrowed it down to hitter vs. pitcher yet. We’ve narrowed it down to a group. We’ll meet next week and decide if that group is big enough (or) if we need to include more players in that group." Stanford pitcher Mark Appel appears to be in that group, along with Georgia high school outfielders Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier.
Rangers outfielder Julio Borbon describes his future as "a real question mark," Evan Grant of DallasNews.com reports. Texas appears likely to trade Borbon or designate him for assignment, when they add starter Nick Tepesch to their active roster on Tuesday. If the Rangers designate Borbon for assignment, the Astros might claim him, Grant says. Borbon hit .304/.349/.433 for Triple-A Round Rock in 2012. Here are more notes from around the American League.
- Ranger-turned-Angel C.J. Wilson understands why Rangers fans weren't happy to see fellow former Ranger Josh Hamilton play in Arlington for the Angels this weekend, MLB.com's Lyle Spencer reports. "We're all baseball players," Wilson says. "It's not real life. Sports gives you something to cheer for or boo about. It's your choice. They're not going to cheer for him, obviously." Hamilton signed a five-year, $125MM contract with the Angels in December.
- The upcoming Yankees-Indians series in Cleveland will be a reunion for both Nick Swisher and Travis Hafner, Zack Meisel of MLB.com reports. "Oh, man, that's going to be the jam," says Swisher, who left New York in the offseason and signed a four-year, $56MM contract with the Indians. Hafner signed a one-year, $2MM contract with the Yankees in February.
The Yankees can learn from the Red Sox's approach to free agency, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Other teams could also follow their lead if Boston is successful this season, which would mean aggressively attacking the middle-class free agent market and constructing a deep bullpen. Someday, Sherman argues, we may look back on the August blockbuster as the Red Sox's Herschel Walker trade as it brought them a couple of impressive arms in Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster while giving the club a financial do-over. Here's more from around baseball..
- Meanwhile, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes that the Dodgers seemed to have sense the current flurry of contract extensions coming when they made their mega-deal with Boston and acquired Hanley Ramirez from the Marlins. The Dodgers could have their own pricey extension coming up as they look to lock Clayton Kershaw up for the long term.
- Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal wonders if the Indians' Ubaldo Jimenez is starting to figure things out. The hurler is in the final year of his deal with Cleveland unless both parties agree to trigger the mutual option for 2014, which is unlikely.
- Angels slugger Josh Hamilton would have been wise to take a page out of John Farrell's book and not slam his former home, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
The Rockies' decision to designate Aaron Harang for assignment after trading Ramon Hernandez for him shows that Colorado likes the pitchers it already has, MLB.com's Thomas Harding argues. The Rockies will stick with their rotation of Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, Juan Nicasio, Jeff Francis and Jon Garland. Behind them at Triple-A Colorado Springs, the Rockies have youngsters Drew Pomeranz, Christian Friedrich and Tyler Chatwood, along with veteran Aaron Cook. "We're happy with our guys," Rockies senior vice president of Major League operations Bill Geivett says. "Whether it was Chacin who missed a lot of time, or De La Rosa who missed a lot of time, or Nicasio who missed a lot of time, there's some ring-rust that comes with a new season and not having a full season last year. At the same time, we're confident in them." Here are more notes from around the majors.
- Indians GM Chris Antonetti and his front office sometimes try to "cram six pounds of smart into a five-pound bag," the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes says. The decision to begin the season short-handed, as they carried Carlos Carrasco on their 25-man roster while he served a suspension, came back to bite the Indians, says Hoynes. The trouble began when Scott Kazmir hurt his ribcage on Monday, which forced the Indians to activate him so they could backdate his stay on the disabled list. That meant they had to option Nick Hagadone, who was supposed to provide bullpen depth in a week in which, as it turns out, they could have used it, as they played an 11-inning game Wednesday and a high-scoring game Thursday. The Indians ultimately had Trevor Bauer start Saturday night, and he walked seven while allowing three runs in five innings.
- Albert Pujols says he won't allow his ten-year, $240MM contract with the Angels to become a burden, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports. "God has given me ability and talent, but the day I feel like I can't compete any more on this level, I'm not going to embarrass myself," says Pujols, who hit "only" .285/.343/.516 in the first year of his contract in 2012. DiGiovanna clarifies that Pujols isn't suggesting he has plans to retire, but rather that pride compels him to play his best and try to prove his critics wrong.
- The Cubs are currently looking at six MLB Draft prospects, says MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. Their list includes Stanford pitcher Mark Appel (who is currently generally regarded as the top talent available), along with Georgia high school outfielders Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier. The Cubs pick second in the draft, which will be held in early June.
The Indians and Jason Kipnis have put their extension talks on hold now that the regular season has started, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Kipnis and his agents at the Beverly Hills Sports Council had been in discussions as recently as March. Hoynes writes:"Once the regular season started, the negotiations stopped," said Kipnis before Friday's game against the Rays. "We didn't want the distraction during the season. I think they felt the same way."
Kipnis tells Hoynes that he's interested in resuming extension talks following the 2013 season. The 26-year-old has a little more than one year of service time and isn't eligible for arbitration until after the 2014 season. Kipnis hit .257/.335/.379 with 14 homers in his first full season in 2012.
Hoynes adds that there's no word on whether or not talks with outfielder Michael Brantley are still in progress. Brantley, 26 in May, will be eligible for arbitration for the first time after this season.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Indians have claimed right-hander Robert Whitenack off waivers from the Cubs and optioned him to Double-A Akron, the team announced via Twitter. Frank Herrmann was transferred to the 60-day-disabled list to create roster space. Whitenack had been designated for assignment on Monday to clear roster space for Alberto Gonzalez.
Whitenack, 24, was an eighth-round pick by the Cubs in the 2009 draft but struggled through 51 1/3 innings at High-A Daytona last season. Whitenack posted a 5.96 ERA, 5.4 K/9, 4.7 BB/9, hit five batters and threw three wild pitches. Westnack had been in the midst of a breakout 2011 season before Tommy John surgery cut that effort short.
Baseball America ranked him 23rd among Cubs prospects this offseason, noting 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.
The Orioles made a surprising playoff run in 2012, but SB Nation's Rob Neyer can see why people question their ability to repeat. He argues that the Orioles were merely average in terms of runs scored and runs allowed in 2012, and expecting players like Brian Roberts and Nolan Reimold to perform better than they have in years is going to invite critics. Here's more out of the AL East...
- Shane Victorino inked a three-year, $39MM deal with the Red Sox this offseason, but he told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that he turned down a bigger offer from the Indians to join the Boston-New York rivalry. Victorino says that Cleveland offered $44MM over four years, but his previous experiences playing at Fenway Park and the intensity of the fans swayed him to leave some money on the table.
- Scott Boras was "blindsided" by Robinson Cano's decision to switch agents yesterday, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Cano, who still must pay Boras the commission on 2013's $15MM salary, had signed a representation agreement with Boras as recently as March 20. Brodie Van Wagenen, who will be Cano's primary baseball representative with CAA/Roc Nation Sports, said he wouldn't publicly discuss a new opening for Cano to sign a contract, but noted that Cano loves New York and would like to stay.
- There are still roadblocks to getting a new deal with the Yankees worked out for Cano and his new representatives, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman wonders about conflicts of interest surrounding Jay-Z -- a lifelong Yankee fan who will perform at Yankee Stadium this year -- negotiating against the team. He also wonders whether or not the Yanks will want to give another player that's on the wrong side of 30 a $200MM contract.
Pirates GM Neal Huntington and Rays GM Andrew Friedman claim that their decisions to leave Gerrit Cole (Pirates) and Wil Myers (Rays) in the minors to start the 2013 season were motivated not by service-time concerns, but by those players' readiness, MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo reports. Mayo says the scouts he's spoken to can't blame Huntington for sending Cole to Triple-A Indianapolis, since Cole has very limited experience at that level. Friedman, meanwhile, says that he needs to be sure a player is ready before having him compete in the tough AL East. "The AL East will expose very quickly any weaknesses that you have," he says. "So when we bring someone here, we need to feel that he's ready to step in and help us win right away."
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, in contrast, says his organization promoted Jackie Bradley Jr. to start the season -- even though doing so could affect Bradley's timetable for free agency -- because Bradley is one of the organization's 25 best players, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports. "At the end, if there was that level of confidence that he was part of the best 25-man roster, then we felt he should be on the team. That’s part of our responsibility to the fans and to the organization," Cherington says. In addition, Cherington notes, the Red Sox begin their season with plenty of games within their division, and it's especially crucial that they do well in those games. Their first four series against the Yankees, Blue Jays, Orioles and Rays, all AL East opponents. Here are more notes from around the majors.
- The Giants have locked up catcher Buster Posey with an eight-year, $159MM extension, but in Keith Law's latest podcast for ESPN, Posey's agent, Jeff Berry of Creative Artist Agency (CAA), contemplates what might have happened if Posey and the Giants had decided to go year-to-year through the arbitration system. Berry argues that Posey's situation would have been unique, because Posey has won an MVP and a Rookie of the Year award and has played for two World Series-winning teams, but after missing much of 2011 to injury, he doesn't have particularly impressive career bulk counting stats, which are a factor in arbitration hearings. "The challenge, first and foremost, in the arb system was looking at, 'Wow, this guy has accomplished things that no one else has ever done, but [among superstars in the arbitration process] he's also played less than anyone,'" Berry says.
- Reacting to Robinson Cano's decision to fire Scott Boras and hire CAA and the rapper Jay-Z as his representation, one agent says that "Jay-Z doesn’t know s--- about baseball," Michael O'Keeffe of the New York Daily News writes. "You don’t hire a real estate agent to do neurosurgery," the agent continues. O'Keeffe goes on to note that, of course, Jay-Z will not be negotiating a deal for Cano, who will be a free agent after the season. That duty will go to CAA, which represents Posey and a number of other MLB stars. Here are more reactions to Cano's agency switch.
- This year's Indians are excited about the team's offseason spending spree, Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal reports. "Hats off to Chris Antonetti and the Dolan family, after losing 94 games [in 2012] they very easily could have folded up shop and said, 'Let’s wait for a few more young kids to develop and see what we’ve got,'" says Jason Giambi, who signed a minor-league deal with Cleveland in February. Instead, he says, "[t]hey went out and got some guys and spent some money. They put together a good ballclub, now we have to answer the bell and play good."
- The Rangers had scouts watching pitcher Joba Chamberlain in spring training, but the Rangers and Yankees never ended up discussing a deal, George A. King III and Zach Braziller of the New York Post write. King and Braziller note that Chamberlain impressed the Yankees with a spring training performance that included nine strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings.
The changing nature of free agency has been a hot topic of late, as MLBTR noted earlier today. A series of high-profile extensions this spring have reinforced an apparent new trend towards teams retaining their best young players with long-term deals. As Larry Stone of the Seattle Times posits, this trend also increases the importance of scouting and developing young players, with MLB's recent spending limits potentially leveling the playing field between large and small-market clubs.
- Alex Rodriguez's record-breaking 2007 contract extension with the Yankees was re-visited in a piece on Saturday from David Waldstein of the New York Times. Waldstein reports on the events that ensued after Rodriguez exercised the opt-out clause in his contract, with the announcement infamously coming in the midst of what turned out to be the final game of the World Series. After receiving counsel from people ranging from Mariano Rivera to Warren Buffett, Rodriguez apologized to Hal and Hank Steinbrenner to pave the way to a new deal with the Yanks. The unprecedented contract included a $265MM salary guarantee over ten seasons, a $10MM signing bonus, and career home run milestone payments of up to $30MM. With Rodriguez now suffering from some combination of ineffectiveness, injury, and intrigue, Waldstein writes, New York may be exploring a variety of ways to get out from under the deal.
- An opt-out clause could play a big role in another potential ten-year commitment: the recently-inked eight-year, $120MM extension between Elvis Andrus and the Rangers. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports explains, the deal's opt-out clause is likely to turn the Andrus extension into a four-year, $60MM deal. While this seems to be a big concession by Texas, Rosenthal says it was necessary to lock up four of the Scott Boras client's free agent years. The club will pursue insurance to protect itself in the event that Andrus does not exercise the opt-out clause due to injury. The deal also gives the Rangers plenty of flexibility to take advantage of super-prospect Jurickson Profar, either in their lineup (at second base) or via trade.
- While still not conforming his new deal, Andrus commented today on his relationship with Boras, as reported by T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Discussing his agent's penchant for testing the market, Andrus said: "We're the boss. I know everybody thinks that about Scott but it's different if you're the one in that position. He works for us. I know he tries to get the best deal that he can but it comes down to my choice and what's better for me and my family."
- Scott Kazmir appears close to coming all the way back to the big leagues after being activated by the Indians, writes Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer. In a corresponding move, the club optioned left-hander Nick Hagadone to Triple-A. Kazmir, who will now receive a $1MM base salary after initially signing a minor league deal, may still have to wait to actually make an appearance after straining his ab. As the Indians noted on Twitter, today's transaction allows the club to back-date a Kazmir DL stint if he is not ready to go.
- The Red Sox are signing infielder Brandon Snyder to a minor league deal, as first reported by Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Alex Speier of WEEI.com confirmed (via Twitter) that Snyder, who was recently released by the Rangers, has signed with Boston and is headed to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Today's outright assignments..
- The Indians announced that left-hander David Huff cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Columbus. The Tribe designated Huff for assignment on March 31st as he was out of options and did not make the team. Huff has posted a 5.30 ERA with 5.0 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 52 starts and three relief appearances for the Tribe over parts of four seasons.