Michael Brantley Rumors
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."
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.
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.
Happy birthday, Jayson Werth! Let's celebrate by reading these news items...
- FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi outlines the unique contract situation of right-hander Chris Resop, who has been a revelation as a starting pitcher this season for Atlanta's Triple-A team.
- A bit further down the FOX Sports Buzz page, Morosi notes that Mat Gamel's time playing first base during his rehab assignment isn't necessarily a hint about Prince Fielder's fate in Milwaukee.
- In response to a piece about the Dodgers' spending under Frank McCourt, Fanhouse's Tom Krasovic relates how L.A. shipped Carlos Santana to Cleveland in the Casey Blake deal rather than pick up $2MM of Blake's salary. If Santana becomes the star catcher that he's projected to be for the Tribe, Dodger fans might be regretting that $2MM worth of savings for a long time.
- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle says the Giants may have Eric Hacker replace the struggling Todd Wellemeyer in the rotation. Star prospect Madison Bumgarner has pitched well in Triple-A this season, but Schulman thinks the Giants want the young left-hander to have more innings at that level before they bring him up to the majors.
- Troy Renck of The Denver Post writes that the recently DFA'ed Willy Taveras worked out in Houston this week. The Astros offered Taveras a minor league deal over the winter, so Taveras' workout could represent a rekindling of the club's interest, or it could've just been a courtesy extended to a former Astro.
- Terry Pluto of The Cleveland Plain Dealer thinks Michael Brantley and the Indians would both be better served by having the outfield prospect back in the majors. Pluto points out that if the Tribe are trying to stall Brantley's service time, then they shouldn't have had him start with the club on Opening Day.
- The Rays have had almost as many key injuries as the Yankees this season, but Tampa Bay's depth made them better prepared to deal with it, writes Steve Slowinski of the DRaysBay blog.
- Speaking of those Yankee injuries, Brian Cashman said today that the club would look within their system to fill the holes, reports Chad Jennings of The Journal News.
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 Napoli-Jeff 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."
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.
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."
Terry Pluto of The Cleveland Plain Dealer sat down for a chat with Indians team president Paul Dolan and some other front office personnel. Lots of interesting information came to light, so let's dig in...
- Dolan indicated that the team was $16MM in the red in July and headed towards $20MM. The trades of Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, and Carl Pavano bring that number down to about $12MM.
- Jake Westbrook's injury will actually save the team money because insurance will cover about 50% of his $11MM salary.
- Had the Tribe not made any moves at the deadline, they would have been looking at about $30MM in losses next year because of declining attendance.
- Dolan has "no plans" to sell the team, nor has he received any serious offers.
- "Mark Shapiro will be the general manager next year; that has never been in question," said Dolan. "He has done a very good job of rebuilding the franchise once after the 1990s. Our fans may not realize it, but our franchise is viewed around baseball as one of the better ones in the game."
- The future of manager Eric Wedge will be decided after the season, and the $1.3MM owed to him in 2010 will "not be factor."
- Pluto also provides some notes about several Tribe prospects, including Carlos Carrasco and Michael Brantley. Carrasco was acquired in the Lee trade, Brantley in last year's CC Sabathia deal.
According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Indians have chosen 21 year-old outfielder Michael Brantley to complete the C.C. Sabathia trade.
Heading into the season, Baseball America saw Brantley as a "fourth outfielder who can be a useful pinch-hitter." Brantley proceeded to hit .319/.395/.398 in Double A.
According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Indians made decide on the final player in the C.C. Sabathia trade today. Hoynes says the Indians are leaning toward outfielder Michael Brantley over third baseman Taylor Green. Hoynes reminds us that the Indians have already received Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson, and Rob Bryson from the Brewers.