Lonnie Chisenhall Rumors
Indians GM Chris Antonetti told Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that finding a third baseman will be one of his main jobs this winter. Here’s a look at needs, options and possible solutions for the Tribe:
It would make sense to sign someone who can play third for a year while Jared Goedert and Lonnie Chisenhall develop into major league regulars. Goedert, 25, batted .283/.358/.532 with 27 homers in the upper minors this year. Chisenhall, who turned 22 this week, had a strong season at Double-A, but likely needs seasoning.
Antonetti told Hoynes that he’d like to see improved infield defense next year, so free agents who can hold their own at the hot corner will appeal to Cleveland's front office.
Jayson Nix, Cord Phelps, Luis Valbuena and Andy Marte are internal options for the Indians, but none of the four have guarantees and it seems more likely that the Indians will add someone from outside the organization.
Adrian Beltre is a fantastic defender, but he has set himself up for a long-term deal and the Indians are probably not looking to make a long-term commitment to a third baseman given their minor league depth at the position.
Lots of other third basemen hit free agency this winter; the Indians could approach Jorge Cantu, Melvin Mora, Miguel Tejada, Brandon Inge or Juan Uribe about a deal. All of those players should draw interest from multiple teams - Inge has discussed a deal with the Tigers - but there should be plenty of alternatives.
Joe Crede has a reputation as a good defender and could look to return next year after sitting out the 2010 season. Felipe Lopez and Pedro Feliz could also be considerations for the Tribe, but, like Crede, both come with question marks.
A Possible Solution
The Indians have lots of choice, but here’s one solution I’d like to see: longtime Indian Omar Vizquel paired with Edwin Encarnacion (if he’s non-tendered). Vizquel, a switch-hitter who handles right-handers better than left-handers, could face tough righties and be a late-game defensive replacement at third and short. Encarnacion, who mashes lefties, could start against all southpaws and lots of right-handers.
The Indians may not have the chance to sign either player and even if they’re both available, there are surer ways for Antonetti to improve his infield defense than combining a 44-year-old with someone who has played below average defense in every season of his career (Encarnacion’s career UZR/150 is -11.7).
But Vizquel can still get on base (.341 OBP in 2010) and play all around the infield and Encarnacion definitely has power. It’s one fun option to think about, even if the Jays decide Encarnacion is worth $5-6MM in arbitration and Vizquel re-signs with the White Sox.
As we prepare for a weekend of watching AL pitchers take ineffective swings, here are a few news items...
- Dave Cameron of Fangraphs thinks the Orioles should take advantage of their terrible start by being the first team to put its assets on the trade market.
- Texas relief prospect Tanner Scheppers could be in the majors by the All-Star Break or even sooner, predicts John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall.com.
- ESPN.com's Jason A. Churchill looks at what the Pirates might do with the second overall pick in next month's amateur draft.
- The Blue Jays want "a top prospect" for either Scott Downs or Jason Frasor, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney, and other teams consider that to be too high a price for either reliever.
- Olney also notes (via Twitter) that Seattle is still looking for batting help.
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America discusses several prospects in a chat with fans. In regards to Indians prospect Lonnie Chisenhall, Eddy predicts that Cleveland will buy out Jhonny Peralta (for $250K) rather than pick up his $7MM club option in 2011, and then have Chisenhall take over as the everyday third baseman. Chisenhall has just a .641 OPS at Double-A Akron this season, so it might be too much to expect him to move up to the majors that quickly.
- Larry Stone of the Seattle Times compares the situations of fading future Hall-of-Famers Ken Griffey Jr. and Trevor Hoffman.
- ESPN's Rob Neyer thinks Colorado can do better than Luis Castillo or Kazuo Matsui if the club is serious about improving itself at second base.
- Trevor Plouffe, Minnesota's first-round pick (20th overall) in the 2004 amateur draft, will make his major league debut tonight for the Twins, reports Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
According to Justice B. Hill of MLB.com, the Indians signed their first round pick Lonnie Chisenhall for $1.2MM. Chisenhall, a left-handed hitter, played mostly shortstop in college but the Indians view him as a third baseman.
Chisenhall may have dropped to #29 partially because of a burglary incident last year. On draft day, only 17% of MLBTR readers polled thought the Indians made the right choice. That may just be because Chisenhall was not a household name.