Michael Brantley Rumors

Indians Talking Extension With Kipnis, Brantley

The Indians are discussing extensions with outfielder Michael Brantley and second baseman Jason Kipnis, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The team is interested in buying out all of the players’ arbitration years plus multiple free agent years, Rosenthal writes. Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported this past weekend that the Indians will approach the players about extension talks.

The Indians began discussing an extension with Brantley before they signed free agent Michael Bourn and moved Brantley from center field to left field, according to Rosenthal. It’s possible the position change will complicate talks with the Legacy Agency client. Brantley, who narrowly missed out on super two status last winter, will be arbitration eligible for the first time next offseason. He's on track to hit free agency after the 2016 season.

Kipnis has just one year and 69 days of MLB service, which means he's two years away from arbitration eligibility. Beverly Hills Sports Council represents Kipnis.

As MLBTR’s Extension Tracker shows, the Indians have not shied away from locking players up before and during their arbitration years. The club successfully extended many young players under former GM John Hart during the 1990s.

AL Notes: Rays, Dice-K, Indians, Red Sox, Boesch

Gary Shelton of the Tampa Bay Times expressed concern the Rays don't have enough power in their lineup to compete over the long haul. As if to add an exclamation point to Shelton's column, the Rays were stymied this afternoon by Jon Lester of the Red Sox, who was perfect for six innings (79 pitches, 53 for strikes) with six strikeouts. The Rays were on the verge of being the victim of a Spring Training perfect game until an infield single by non-roster invitee Jason Bourgeois with one out in the top of the ninth. In other American League news and notes:

  • One solution to the Rays' power shortage could be Wil Myers, who was sent to Triple-A yesterday. Manager Joe Maddon told reporters, including the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin, that he believes the timing of Myers' recall will be a baseball decision and not based on service time considerations in order to avoid an extra year of arbitration eligibility.
  • The Indians have yet to make a decision on Daisuke Matsuzaka even after a meeting this morning between manager Terry Francona and the front office, tweets the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes. Francona could speak with Dice-K tomorrow.
  • The Indians will approach Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley about contract extensions at some point this spring, writes Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
  • The trade market for Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who will be a free agent after this season, is not good, tweets the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber.
  • "The door's not locked. It may not even be cracked open, but it's not locked, either," a Red Sox source told Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com about the chances of Jackie Bradley Jr. making the Opening Day roster.
  • The Yankees only signed Brennan Boesch because he has minor league options remaining, according to ESPN's Buster Olney in his Insider blog (subscription required). Olney added, given the apparent lack of interest in Boesch, the Yankees might have the ability, if he struggles in the next few weeks, to get him through waivers, take him off the 40-man roster, and outright him to the minor leagues. 
  • The Angels have acquired minor league pitcher Mike Cisco from the Phillies for no compensation.  Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com explains the Phillies had an excess of pitching in Double-A and Triple-A and they wanted to make sure he’d go somewhere he’d have an opportunity to pitch. The Angels liked him and have a spot for him in their system.

Quick Hits: Indians, Yankees, Bailey

The latest links from around MLB…

  • The Indians are getting calls on Michael Brantley and Drew Stubbs following their four-year deal with Michael Bourn, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Though the Indians currently plan to keep both Brantley and Stubbs, some people suspect Stubbs will be dealt.
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka said part of the reason he signed with the Indians was the chance to compete against his former team, the Red Sox, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports (on Twitter).
  • Andrew Bailey told Alex Speier of WEEI.com that he loves playing with the Red Sox, even if he's not the team's closer.
  • Yankees manager Joe Girardi isn't sure if Andy Pettitte will retire after 2013, Jack Curry of the YES Network reports (Twitter links). "I think Andy still loves to compete," Girardi said, acknowledging that it’ll ultimately be up to the left-hander himself.  Pettitte will celebrate his 41st birthday this summer and while he doesn’t seem ready to retire, he said he doesn’t intend to decide until after the 2013 season.
  • Mariano Rivera said he has decided whether 2013 will be his final season, according to Curry (Twitter links). The Yankees closer won’t reveal his decision just yet, but will do so before the regular season begins.
  • Homer Bailey said he and the Reds would prefer to avoid an arbitration hearing if possible, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports. “It’s kind of a slow process. We’ll see how it goes and go from there,” Bailey said. The right-hander has a hearing scheduled for Monday after filing for $5.8MM. The Reds, who recently avoided arbitration with Mat Latos and Shin-Soo Choo, offered $4.75MM.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Reactions To The Michael Bourn Signing

The Indians agreed to a four-year deal with Michael Bourn earlier tonight, presumably capping an offseason spending spree that saw GM Chris Antonetti dish out $117MM in guaranteed contracts. Here are some reactions from around the baseball world pertaining to tonight's news…

  • It doesn't sound like the signing will prompt the Indians to trade Drew Stubbs or Michael Brantley, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Twitter link).
  • In the event of a trade, Stubbs is the most likely to go, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, who notes that the Mets are a logical landing place.
  • Heyman also writes that the Mets' credibility took a hit with their inability to sign Bourn. He opines that the team should've have filed a grievance weeks ago to attempt to keep their first-round pick, even if it meant risking increased leverage for Scott Boras in negotiations.
  • The contract is good for both Bourn and the Indians in the mind of Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan. He adds that Cleveland's protected first-round pick meant they were sacrificing less value to sign Bourn, as he cost them only a competitive balance draft pick. Because they didn't have to give up as much value as others would have to sign Bourn, they were willing to spend more on the contract itself.
  • It's a fair contract, and Bourn immediately becomes one of Cleveland's best players, but the move is still a head-scratcher according to ESPN's Keith Law. Law feels that Cleveland's pitching isn't improved enough to make them a .500 team, which makes all of this spending a curious decision unless it's with an eye toward stockpiling affordable talent for future trade assets.
  • Law also notes that the Royals are losers in this deal, as part of their rationale for parting with Wil Myers was that the weakness of the AL Central could make them Wild Card contenders: "…every move that Cleveland, Minnesota or the White Sox make to get better hurts the odds of Kansas City getting to the 88-win territory."

Antonetti On Brantley, Kipnis, Chisenhall

Cleveland GM Chris Antonetti has an adaptable approach to this offseason’s free agent market. Players such as Michael Brantley offer defensive versatility, so the Indians aren’t about to limit their search for position players so early in the offseason.

“We can either go left field, center field or first base,” Antonetti said. “And we have some creative ideas for other positions as well.”

The Indians feel “very comfortable” with Brantley in center field, since he played for a month and a half with a serious wrist injury but still posted a .702 OPS in 2011. Brantley will play center field or left field in 2012, depending on the rest of Cleveland’s offseason.

The Indians’ winter will revolve around the search for position players, since they have a full five-man rotation heading into Spring Training 2012. However, the Indians aren’t content with their pitching depth.

“I don’t think we’ll ever be satisfied with our pitching,” he said. “We’ll always look for opportunities to improve.” 

The Indians enter the 2011 season with Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson, Fausto Carmona, Derek Lowe and Josh Tomlin in the rotation. Since Masterson, Carmona and Lowe induce so many ground balls, the Indians intend on lining their infield with above-average defenders.

Jason Kipnis appears to be the leading candidate for the starting second base job and Antonetti says he has the chance to become an above-average defender. Jack Hannahan, a pleasant surprise in 2011, is an “elite” defender, according to Antonetti. He could start at third for Cleveland and Lonnie Chisenhall is also in the mix for regular work at the hot corner. However, the Indians aren’t going to finalize decisions before Spring Training.

Indians Notes: LaPorta, Sizemore, Rotation, Chisenhall

Even on a day filled with football news, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has a pair of Indians articles up filled with some information on what we can expect from the Tribe in 2011. Let's look at some highlights:

  • The upcoming season will play a large role in gauging the return that the Indians got from the C.C. Sabathia trade. Both Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley are expected to play full seasons as part of Cleveland's rebuilding efforts. LaPorta, who recently turned 26, is fully healthy unlike 2010 when he underwent two mid-season surgeries.
  • Both Grady Sizemore and Fausto Carmona could be traded if they perform well in the first half. Sizemore is more likely, given that he's only under Cleveland's control through 2012 (the $8.5MM club option on his deal becomes a player option if he's traded). Carmona is through 2014 through a series of club options.
  • The club is still interested in both Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Bonderman, though Hoynes says the Indians haven't changed their stance on Millwood's asking price; they don't want to invest $4MM-$5MM.
  • Lonnie Chisenhall will open the season at Triple-A Columbus no matter what, according to Hoynes. He has a chance to push some current big-leaguers eventually, as do Jason Kipnis, Jared Goedert, and Cord Phelps. Keith Law recently ranked Chisenhall as the game's 39th best prospect. Kipnis placed 56th.

Odds & Ends: Resop, Gamel, Santana, Bumgarner

Happy birthday, Jayson Werth!  Let's celebrate by reading these news items…

Odds & Ends: Lowell, Redding, Brantley, Wilson

Some news items as we say goodbye to March and hello to another great baseball-filled April…

  • ESPN's Rob Neyer thinks the Rangers should just go ahead and acquire Mike Lowell, since the reported $3MM gap between Texas and Boston is a small price to pay for solidifying the Rangers' first base platoon.  Given the number of conflicting reports about the deal, it's hard to say if a Lowell-to-Texas trade is imminent or a longshot at this point.
  • Tim Redding talks to The Denver Post's Jim Armstrong about being assigned to Colorado's Triple-A team.  Four days ago, Tracy Ringolsby of Inside the Rockies pointed out that Redding has an opt-out clause he can use if he finds a spot on another team's 25-man roster.  That's unlikely; Ringolsby says the Mariners scouted Redding but came away unimpressed. 
  • The Indians were hoping to hold up Michael Brantley's service clock, but his strong Spring Training and Russell Branyan's injury forced the club's hand, writes Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com.  Brantley will now be Cleveland's starting left fielder on Opening Day.
  • Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times takes a look at Angels catcher Bobby Wilson, who is out of options and faces a tough task in finding a roster spot given the Mike NapoliJeff Mathis combo behind the plate in Los Angeles.  If the Angels are forced to put Wilson on waivers, you'd figure that several teams would be interested in a catcher who has a solid .283/.338/.423 line in 2642 minor league plate appearances.
  • Mychael Urban of CSNBayArea.com chatted with fans about a number of A's and Giants-related topics, including Urban's belief that the extensions for Matt Cain, Brian Wilson and Jeremy Affeldt may have been inspired by San Francisco's confidence in their upcoming crop of position players.
  • In another online chat, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch mentioned that the Cardinals are interested in acquiring a left-handed power bat for the bench.  Strauss noted the club's "history of eleventh-hour spring training moves."

Indians Notes: Brantley, Grudzielanek, Peralta

MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince has a terrific Inbox column that addresses a number of Cleveland issues raised by fans, present and future.

Among the goodness:

  • Castrovince notes that it will be unlikely the Indians call up Michael Brantley for the majority of the season. The less that Brantley plays in 2010, the less likely he is to qualify for arbitration after the 2012 season. Less time in 2010 should stretch non-arb years to 2013.
  • Mark Grudzielanek has really impressed Castrovince, and he believes the 39-year-old has a very good chance of making the roster.
  • Though he's often mentioned as a trade candidate, Castrovince isn't at all certain Jhonny Peralta will be traded this summer. Also uncertain: if Cleveland will pick up Peralta's $7MM option after the season.

The whole piece is worth a read.

Indians Notes: Brantley, Branyan, Choo, Sizemore

Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com discusses some Tribe topics in a fan mailbag

  • Castrovince thinks Michael Brantley will be in Cleveland by midseason, as the Russell Branyan signing was made with an eye towards postponing Brantley's major league service clock.  A strong first half of the season for Branyan could get the veteran traded, thus creating regular playing time for Brantley in left field and Matt LaPorta moving to first.
  • Speaking of veterans being dealt, Castrovince says "it's hard to imagine Jake Westbrook, Kerry Wood and Branyan remaining with this club beyond the 2010 season, and Jhonny Peralta's future here is also in question."
  • We've heard about Shin-Soo Choo's looming conflict with his South Korean military service and how it may affect his playing career.  Castrovince argues that a compromise (such as Choo postponing his service until after his career is over) would work best for both the player and the government.  Castrovince notes that the South Korean government might not want to be seen as forcing one of the country's sporting heroes away from playing major league baseball.
  • In the wake of Choo switching agents from Alan Nero to Scott Boras, Castrovince reported in a separate blog post that another Nero client in Cleveland (Asdrubal Cabrera) "has no plans" to change his representation.  Castrovince also notes that Boras has his eye on Indians prospect Carlos Santana and is "pursuing him hard."
  • In another article, Castrovince discusses Grady Sizemore's future with the Tribe.  He believes that Sizemore's contract is structured well enough that "the Indians find it difficult to imagine a scenario in which they'd be compelled to deal him to another club in either of the next two years."