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- East Notes: Ibanez, Phillies, Mathis
- Blue Jays To Exercise J.A. Happ’s Option
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- Alex Rios Hires Scott Boras
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- Angels Likely To Trade Kendrick Or Freese
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Mike Aviles Rumors
The Indians announced that they have exercised their one-year, $3.5MM club option on Mike Aviles. Cleveland essentially faced a $3.25MM decision, as Aviles’ option contained a $250K buyout.
Aviles, 34 in March, has served as a versatile bench piece for manager Terry Francona over the past two seasons, appearing at shortstop, second base, third base and in all three outfield positions. Since coming over in a trade from the Blue Jays, he’s posted a combined .250/.277/.356 batting line. He will return to a bench role in Cleveland where he’ll presumably be joined by Ryan Raburn and catcher Roberto Perez, among others. He should provide the organization with some depth at third base and shortstop, neither of which is 100 percent settled at this point due to question marks surrounding Lonnie Chisenhall and the inexperience of shortstop Jose Ramirez.
As the Royals look to even the score in the World Series against the Giants, other teams in the division are shifting their focus to the offseason. Here are a few notes from the AL Central…
- The Indians are expected to exercise their $3.5MM club option on Mike Aviles rather than pay him a $250K buyout, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Indians could have reasonably gone either way, as the team has some limited financial flexibility (a topic I highlighted in yesterday’s Offseason Outlook). It appears that his versatility will earn him a spot on the 2015 club. The 33-year-old batted .247/.273/.343 in 374 plate appearances with Cleveland last year.
- MLB.com’s Jason Beck spoke with Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, and while the GM didn’t specifically say that the team would exercise its $7MM club option on Joakim Soria, he certainly implied as much with his comments: “We still have to make the final decision, but it’s a situation where we look at him as being an important acquisition toward this [coming] year also.” Dombrowski said that the team views Joe Nathan as its closer next season, though he indicated that Nathan will have to perform up to his previous capabilities in order to hold onto that role.
- The Twins declined their $3.6MM option on Jared Burton earlier today, and Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the team hasn’t expressed an interest in bringing the 33-year-old back, even at a lower rate.
Tigers catcher Alex Avila is now symptom-free after suffering yet another concussion in the final game of this year’s ALDS against the Orioles, he tells MLive.com’s Chris Iott. While many have speculated that Avila could need to step away from the game after being diagnosed with what he referred to as three “mild” concussions this year, Avila isn’t thinking along those lines. “I had a CT scan and an MRI checking my brain and my neck and the arteries leading to it, and everything checks out normal and healthy,” Avila told Iott. “And talking with the neurologist that examined everything, I shouldn’t have any concern.” Avila’s concussion issues do predate this season, Iott notes, but the catcher maintains that he’d be ready to step on the field today if the Tigers needed him to do so. Detroit holds a $5.4MM option on Avila with a $200K buyout. Even if the option were to be declined, he’d still be under control via arbitration.
Here’s more from the AL Central…
- MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian discusses a wide variety of offseason- and 2015-related topics in his latest Indians Inbox piece, including Francisco Lindor. Bastian writes that he would be “shocked” if Lindor wasn’t with the team next season, but given the notable step back he took in terms of his K/BB numbers at Triple-A and a lack of seasoning at that level, Lindor is probably headed for the minors to open the year. The defensively gifted Jose Ramirez will likely be ticketed to open the season as Cleveland’s shortstop.
- Also from Bastian, he notes that if Lindor is indeed expected to be Triple-A bound to start the season, it makes sense for the team to exercise Mike Aviles‘ $3.5MM club option. Bastian downplayed the idea of Josh Tomlin as a non-tender candidate due to his modest salary and remaining options, and he also touched on the future of Lonnie Chisenhall, noting that third base is one of the most logical areas of upgrade for Cleveland.
- Left-handed power will be a priority for the White Sox this winter, writes Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com. Levine runs down a list of potential targets for the ChiSox, headlined by Victor Martinez but also including Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche and Pablo Sandoval. LaRoche is a bit of a reach to me given the presence of Jose Abreu and LaRoche’s reputation as a solid defensive first baseman. Levine notes that he spoke to a Tigers source that indicated the team would do “whatever it could” to bring back Martinez for 2015 and beyond — and that’s not the first time a reporter has gotten that vibe from Detroit; ESPN’s Buster Olney heard something similar earlier in the month.
After sharing some White Sox-centric notes, let’s take a look around the rest of the AL Central…
- The December 2010 trade of Zack Greinke to the Brewers was a major moment in Royals history, and Tyler Kepner of the New York Times revisits that blockbuster deal to see the impact it had on Kansas City’s current ALCS run. Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain are playing big roles for the Royals, while Jake Odorizzi was flipped to the Rays as part of the package that brought James Shields and Wade Davis to K.C. two years later.
- Mike Aviles‘ $3.5MM club option for 2015 could be a key part of the Indians‘ offseason plans, Zack Meisel of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. If the Tribe keeps the veteran utilityman, it could make Jose Ramirez expendable and create a clear path for Francisco Lindor to win the starting shortstop job in Spring Training. Lindor seems likely to debut in the majors in 2015 and, if he and Ramirez are both around, then $3.5MM might be a bit much for the Indians to pay for a backup like Aviles, despite the depth he provides all over the field.
- Jack Goin, the Twins‘ manager of baseball research, talks to Parker Hageman of Twins Daily about how the club’s use of analytics has evolved over the years.
The Giants are interested in Indians infielders Asdrubal Cabrera and Mike Aviles, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com (via Twitter). Of course, the Indians have to decide they are sellers, which might come down to the trade deadline. Cleveland’s record is currently 49-47 and they’re 5.5 games behind the Tigers in the division. They’re one of three teams sitting just two games back of the Mariners for the second wild card spot.
Cabrera, 28, will be a free agent following the 2014 season. The shortstop is owed roughly $4MM. His defense draws critical remarks. Over the years, many insiders have speculated Cabrera is better suited to play second base, which fits the Giants‘ needs. Aviles, a 33-year-old utility infielder, has a $3.5MM club option for 2015 ($250,000 buyout).
- According to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, GM Brian Sabean is unsure where to focus his attention in the trade market. The Giants can stand to improve in multiple areas, including second base, outfield, and the bullpen. Unsurprisingly, Sabean identifies price and availability as the likely determining factors in any trade.
- Marco Scutaro recently returned from the disabled list, but he’s only played one out of four games since re-joining the club. His ability to stay on the field and perform will probably affect the club’s interest in players like Cabrera and Aviles.
- Also per Schulman, outfielder Angel Pagan is expected to remain out beyond the trade deadline. He has yet to resume swinging the bat.
Leaving the Reds behind and heading to the Indians in the Shin-Soo Choo deal was bittersweet for outfielder Drew Stubbs, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports. "There were definitely some mixed emotions," says Stubbs. "The toughest part for me was, when you're comfortable in a place, having to leave a bunch of great people behind." Stubbs will move from center field to right (after Cleveland's signing of Michael Bourn) and from one corner of Ohio to another, but Bastian notes that Stubbs' spring training home has scarcely changed, since both the Indians and Reds train in Goodyear, Arizona. Here are more notes on the Indians.
- So far, Terry Francona is impressed with Trevor Bauer, who also came to Cleveland in the Choo trade, Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon-Journal writes. "When you tell him something, you have to have a reason, which you’re supposed to have anyway," says Francona. "It was like managing Doug Glanville [for the Philadelphia Phillies]. You would want to say, 'I know you’re smarter than I am. You don’t have to apologize for it.'" Bauer appears unlikely to make the team out of camp, however.
- After a pair of offseason trades, the Indians' Mike Aviles seems to be happy to be reunited with former Red Sox manager Francona, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports. "I've talked to Tito numerous times, and he's assured me I'm going to get a lot of at-bats," says Aviles, who looks like he'll serve as a utility infielder in Cleveland. "That's really the main focus, to get on the field as much as possible." In October, the Red Sox shipped Aviles to Toronto for David Carpenter and manager John Farrell. The next month, the Blue Jays sent Aviles to the Indians with Yan Gomes for Esmil Rogers.
The Indians avoided arbitration with Mike Aviles, agreeing to a two-year contract, Zack Meisel of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). The Legacy Agency represents Aviles, who obtains $6MM for the two-year term, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports (on Twitter). The Indians announced the deal, noting that it includes a club option for 2015 (Twitter link).
Aviles had filed for $3.4MM with the Indians countering at $2.4MM, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows. A two-year deal would buy out both of Aviles' arbitration seasons, but wouldn't delay his path to free agency. The Indians have now agreed to terms with all of their arbitration eligible players.
For more on the process be sure to check out MLBTR's Arbitration Basics.
A few notes from around the Majors as we wrap up a very busy Thursday…
- The Rangers are "not looking at anything major" in terms of further offseason moves, general manager Jon Daniels tells MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. If the club does make any additions, it will be bench depth or another candidate to fight for the fifth starter's job.
- Left-hander Charlie Furbush wasn't part of the package the Mariners offered to the Diamondbacks for Justin Upton, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times reports. The two teams had agreed on a package that included Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin and Stephen Pryor before Upton blocked the deal with his no-trade protection. Stone isn't sure if just those three were offered to Arizona or if another pitcher besides Furbush was also part of the proposed trade.
- Mike Aviles hasn't heard updates from his agent about his contract status with the Indians but tells MLB.com's Jordan Bastian that "as far as I know, everything is progressing and I don't see why it wouldn't be settled" before the two sides reach an arbitration hearing. Aviles is the Tribe's only remaining arb-eligible player who hasn't yet agreed to a deal. MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker indicates that Aviles is looking for a $3.4MM contract while Cleveland is offering $2.4MM.
- Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse are still unsigned, which many attribute to the draft pick compensation tied to them as players who turned down qualifying offers from their former teams. Andrew Miller, the Red Sox MLBPA representative, told Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal that the two players' situations "clearly means more fine-tuning" is needed for the new free agency rules. "It's not an open market for these guys….It's just unfortunate that those guys can help teams but teams are hesitant to go after them because of a draft pick," Miller said.
- Center field has been the busiest position of the offseason, as MLB.com's Andrew Simon notes the large number of teams who have made changes in center this winter.
- The Royals don't have an out clause in their TV contract with FOX Sports Kansas City, Royals senior VP of business Kevin Uhlich tells Pete Grathoff of the Kansas City Star. The club's current broadcast deal runs through the 2019 season.
The Indians have been very busy during the first days of 2013 officially announcing the free agent signings of Nick Swisher and Brett Myers. MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports the team will open the season with a payroll hovering around $66-68MM (not including the $2.75MM buyout of Travis Hafner's 2013 club option and the $3.5MM sent to the Reds in the Shin-Soo Choo trade). As a result, GM Chris Antonetti has said the team's financial resources have been exhausted. The lone remaining hole in the lineup is designated hitter. Bastian says the Tribe could rely on internal options like Mike Aviles, Yan Gomes, Ezequiel Carrera, Tim Fedroff, and Rule 5 selection Chris McGuiness. Even bringing back Hafner is a possibility according to Antonetti, "I think some of that is going to depend upon other opportunities for Travis and his thoughts on returning, as well as what opportunities we may have for him compared to other guys." Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has more news and notes concerning the Indians:
- Hoynes adds Matt LaPorta to the list of in-house DH options, but says Antonetti could still sign a hitter or bring one in on a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
- Hoynes thinks Delmon Young would look good as the Tribe's DH, but doesn't see it happening at this time because of his asking price and character issues.
- The Indians will still consider trading Asdrubal Cabrera or Chris Perez, but only if the return is comparable to what they received in the Choo deal.
- The starting rotation looks like Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Myers, and Zach McAllister. Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco are the leading candidates for the fifth spot.
- With the flush of spending of this season, does this put extra pressure on the front office to win now? Hoynes doesn't sense any panic in the hallways of power, especially since new manager Terry Francona can opt-out of his deal if certain members of management lose their jobs.
Jason Giambi was a surprise candidate to become the Rockies' next manager, but now that the job has gone to Walt Weiss, the team has offered Giambi the job of hitting coach, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Giambi had said he would continue playing if he wasn't hired as manager, though he's taking a few days to consider Colorado's offer. If he turns it down and wants to keep playing, agent Joel Wolfe tells ESPN's Jerry Crasnick that "several teams" have shown interest in his client, who will be 42 years old on Opening Day.
Here are some more items from a very busy day around baseball…
- Robinson Cano believes he has already signed one team-friendly contract with the Yankees and will look for market value in his next deal, a "confidant" of the second baseman tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Cano's last contract with the Yankees ended up paying him $57MM over six years once New York exercised its two club options for 2012 and 2013.
- The Blue Jays' waiver claim of Bobby Wilson as catching depth "suggests J.P. Arencibia is in play on the trade market," writes Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi.
- Also from Davidi, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said that Mike Aviles drew "pretty good demand…the Indians weren't the only team that asked about him," before the infielder was traded to Cleveland last weekend.
- Though Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said earlier today that he preferred signing players to making trades this offseason, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News thinks the trade market might be the best way for the Phils to solve some roster problems.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto likes his core of position players, leaving Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times to conclude that the Halos will pursue rotation depth through free agency, not trades.
- Jose Veras has switched agents, going from Bryce Dixon to the Praver Shapiro agency, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The veteran righty chose to become a free agent after he was outrighted off the Brewers' 40-man roster.
- Minor league free agent Collin Balester is "in demand," reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter). Balester, 26, had a 6.50 ERA in 11 relief outings for the Tigers last season but posted strong numbers at Triple-A Toledo.