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Mike Aviles Rumors
Freshly appointed Brewers general manager David Stearns held court with the media at Petco Park today, and Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel runs down a number of the topics addressed by Stearns. Perhaps most notably, Stearns characterized his first impressions of manager Craig Counsell as positive. Building a relationship with Counsell is one of the first things on Stearns’ to-do list as GM. “It’s an enormous relationship, and it needs to be a relationship that has mutual respect and mutual trust,” said Stearns of the manager-GM dynamic. “So far, we’ve gotten along very well. … Throughout the entire industry, Craig has a very positive reputation. It was also clear that he was held in high regard within the organization and up through ownership.”
A bit more from Stearns and the game’s Central divisions…
- Also high on Stearns’ agenda is deciding on an assistant GM and an organizational structure, as MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy tweets. Via Haudricourt, Stearns spoke about the characteristics he’d seek in an AGM. “Ultimately, you’re going to want one who complements your skill set and helps you run the front office from a variety of different aspects,” he explained. Stearns said he’s spoken to a number of baseball ops executives that pre-date him, presumably including Ash, but has yet to come to any firm personnel decisions. “I’ve had conversations with a number of them and I think a number of them will stay,” he added.
- The Indians will have a number of roster decisions to make following the season, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Gavin Floyd, Ryan Raburn, Mike Aviles and Ryan Webb can all become free agents, and each has expressed an interest in remaining with Cleveland. Raburn could be retained via his $3.5MM club option, as the team will decide between that sum and a $1MM buyout. Hoynes also notes that Cleveland has as many as six, if not seven arbitration eligible players (depending on Jeff Manship‘s Super Two eligibility). Closer Cody Allen, in particular, could be in line for a multi-year deal, per Hoynes, though that comment seemed to be speculative.
- Though adding some additional positions to his repertoire would help Dixon Machado‘s chances of making the Tigers‘ roster in 2015, the team has no plans to play him anywhere but shortstop, manager Brad Ausmus told MLive.com’s James Schmehl. The Tigers view Machado as a pure shortstop, though that complicates his path to playing time in the Majors due to the presence of Jose Iglesias. Nonetheless, Ausmus was firm in his belief: “Just a shortstop, at this point. I don’t know that I’d put Machado in the (Andrew) Romine category. Although he played third base a couple of games in Toledo, I wouldn’t throw him into a utility role.” Machado, the Tigers’ No. 14 prospect, per MLB.com, hit .286/.375/.404 across two levels in 2014 but has struggled in both Triple-A and the Majors this year. Scouting reports on the 23-year-old rave about his glove but wonder if he’ll hit enough to be a regular in the Majors.
The 2015 Indians have not yet made good on their evident promise, in spite of quality performances from many of the team’s better long-term pieces. That frames them as a possible seller, though a late run is not out of the question. Reflecting recent comments from GM Chris Antonetti, however, the latest rumors suggest that a large-scale sell-off is unlikely, with the club perhaps looking instead to re-tool for 2016.
- Cleveland is “unlikely” to deal outfielder Brandon Moss, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The 31-year-old would undoubtedly draw interest, though he’s produced a somewhat tepid .220/.293/.424 batting line. Moss does have 15 home runs, has suffered from a .261 BABIP despite a ton of hard contact, and is earning only $6.5MM with one year of arbitration control remaining. He’s also looked better in the field in the eyes of advanced metrics. All of those factors leave the Indians motivated to keep him in the fold for next season.
- An entirely different set of considerations will likely keep Mike Aviles in Cleveland, Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). The veteran utilityman is dealing with a terribly unfortunate family situation, as his four-year-old daughter is being treated for leukemia at the Cleveland Clinic. Despite receiving some interest, the Indians have (admirably) determined not to trade Aviles in light of those circumstances.
- The Indians are, however, willing to move third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. He’s currently playing in Triple-A after scuffling to start the year and only comes with two more years of control (his salary this year is $2.25MM). But the 26-year-old has shown more in the past and is putting up solid, if unspectacular, numbers at Columbus. Olney suggests he could be a bench piece for a team like the Mets, and the former top-fifty prospect carries some upside down the line.
The White Sox yesterday made the decision to option second baseman Micah Johnson to Triple-A, recalling fellow infielder Carlos Sanchez to fill his spot on the roster and on the diamond. The 22-year-old Sanchez hit .344/.368/.466 in 137 plate appearances at Triple-A this season, whereas Johnson slashed a mere .270/.333/.297 in the Majors. Johnson is the more highly regarded prospect of the two, but as MLB.com’s Scott Merkin writes, GM Rick Hahn said he considers the demotion a “minor setback on the path to what we believe will be a successful big league career.” Second base has been one of many weak spots for the White Sox this season — a subject that Jeff Todd and I discussed in running through a surprising AL Central division on the latest MLBTR Podcast.
Here’s more from the AL Central…
- Thoughts and prayers go out to Indians utility man Mike Aviles who, as Cleveland.com’s Zack Meisel writes, learned last week that his four-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with leukemia. Manager Terry Francona said that it’s possible Aviles will join the team this weekend. However, he could also be placed on the restricted list, thereby allowing him to take as much time as he needs to be with his family. That move would allow the club to add another player to the 25-man roster in Aviles’ place. We at MLBTR wish Aviles and his family the best in an unfathomably difficult time.
- In a second article, Meisel breaks down the Indians‘ shortstop situation, noting that the team is in a difficult place. Cleveland had hoped that the issue of when to promote top prospect Francisco Lindor would be a challenge due to the strong play of Jose Ramirez. Instead, however, it’s a challenge because Ramirez is struggling so badly. As Meisel notes, the Indians almost certainly would like to keep Lindor in Triple-A until mid-to-late June in order to minimize the chance of him achieving Super Two status. However, the present roster is lacking alternatives. Aviles could replace him once he is ready to rejoin the roster, but the other primary alternative, Zach Walters has struggled quite a bit at the plate since being acquired by Cleveland.
- Tigers catcher Alex Avila is opting not to undergo surgery to repair the knee injury that has landed him on the disabled list, reports Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. According to Avila, multiple doctors suggested that he could potentially use a rest and rehab program to avoid surgery and get back on the field sooner than the expected 4-6 weeks he’d have missed with arthroscopic surgery. Avila is on the disabled list with a “loose body” in his knee, but doctors now believe that the abnormality in his knee is not actually loose. “They’re not convinced that it’s a loose body,” said manager Brad Ausmus. “There’s something in there, but they’re not convinced that it’s loose.” Avila is due to hit free agency following the 2015 season.
Torii Hunter spoke with Bob Nightengale of USA Today about his return to the Twins and an interesting aspiration that he has in his post-playing days. The 39-year-old Hunter would eventually like to not only work in the Twins’ front office, but take the reins as general manager of the team. “I really want to get into that front office, make some changes, and build a team that I want to build,” Hunter explained. “I’d love to learn everything from [Twins GM Terry Ryan]. He’ll be a mentor. One day, that’s my goal, to be GM of the Twins.” Nightengale spoke with Ryan about the idea and writes that Hunter “will have a door waiting for him,” though Nightengale writes that Ryan also advised Hunter not to rush any decisions about retirement. Hunter said he’s considered hanging it up next winter, though he very much sounds like a good year at the plate would leave him open to a return in Minnesota. “…unless I hit .300, then I’m going nowhere,” said Hunter, who has batted .301 over the past three seasons. Hunter also has interest in working in TV, he said, and he spoke with Nightengale at length about his prayers for friend Josh Hamilton.
A bit more from Nightengale’s piece and the AL Central…
- Nightengale reports that the Rangers made Hunter a one-year, $8MM offer to play near his Dallas home, and the division-rival Royals offered Hunter one year and $8.5MM with a player option. Hunter, however, ultimately decided he wanted to return to Minnesota, and Nightengale adds that Billy Butler‘s three-year, $30MM contract with Oakland “raised the stakes” for Hunter (presumably implying that Butler’s deal caused Hunter to aim for a higher annual value). Hunter said a 90-minute phone call with Ryan, in which the GM explained that he wants Hunter in Minnesota “forever,” impacted him a great deal as well.
- Tigers right-hander Joel Hanrahan is traveling to Texas to see Dr. Keith Meister about persistent elbow problems that have slowed his comeback attempt, writes MLive.com’s Chris Iott. Hanrahan, who hasn’t thrown since Feb. 22, tells Iott that he’s past the point of frustration and wants to get answers as to why his elbow still is not working properly. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press also spoke with Hanrahan, who told him that at times, it feels like bones in his arm are rubbing together, and at other times, like his biceps is being pinched (Twitter link). Hanrahan missed all of the 2014 season and most of the 2013 season recovering from Tommy John and flexor tendon surgery.
- Mike Aviles‘ outgoing personality and vocal leadership abilities factored into the Indians‘ decision to exercise his $3.5MM option this offseason, writes Zack Meisel of Cleveland.com. Manager Terry Francona told Meisel: “We told him that in our one-on-one. That’s part of his responsibility. We love what he does as a player, because he plays all over the place and he can play every position professionally. But when he’s not playing, he needs to be in a leadership role. We need that out of him. He understands that.”
Scouting director Ray Montgomery has left the Diamondbacks to becomes special assistant to the general manager and vice president in charge of scouting for the Brewers, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. It’s a significant hire for the Brewers — Piecoro notes that Montgomery is widely considered to be very promising, and that he interviewed for the Padres’ open GM job months ago. Montgomery worked with the Brewers before the Diamondbacks hired him in 2010. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- The Indians exercised Mike Aviles‘ option in part because they would like top shortstop prospect Francisco Lindor to get more time at Triple-A Columbus, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Lindor earned a promotion to Columbus last season but only collected 180 regular season plate appearances there. With Lindor in the minors, Jose Ramirez will start at shortstop, with Aviles backing up Ramirez and second baseman Jason Kipnis. Pluto feels Aviles would have trade value if Lindor earned a promotion more quickly than the Indians anticipate.
- Tigers ace Max Scherzer could receive a seven-year, $175MM contract to top this offseason’s free agent market, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post, projecting salaries for ten top free agents. Sherman notes that his guess on Scherzer might be low, but that Masahiro Tanaka‘s 2014 season with the Yankees demonstrates the kinds of uncertainties that often accompany big-money investments in pitchers.
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.