Ubaldo Jimenez Rumors
Indians GM Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona had an end-of-the-year roundup session with the media, including Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Here are some of the hot stove-related items...
- It isn't yet clear if next season's Tribe payroll will be greater or lower than 2013's $80.6MM number, though Antonetti isn't worried. "That's information that we'll get a little later in the offseason when we find out exactly what our payroll will be," Antonetti said. "But that's not the defining thing for us. It's how we build a the best team and I'm confident we'll have the resources we need to build a contending team again next year."
- Pitching seems to be the top priority for the club this winter. When asked if the Indians would go after a middle-of-the-order hitter, Francona said, “It depends on how much pitching we have.”
- Ubaldo Jimenez hasn't made a decision about voiding the $8MM option the club has on his services for next season, Antonetti said. Unsurprisingly, Antonetti said the Tribe would be happy to have Jimenez back in 2014. MLBTR's Steve Adams wrote a Free Agent Profile on Jimenez last month.
- Both men want Jason Giambi to return to the Indians next season, either as a player, coach or possibly both. Giambi has said he wishes to keep playing, so it seems likely the two sides will work something out.
- The Indians will look at Chris Perez's whole career with the team as "the lens" for his arbitration case, Antonetti said, rather than Perez's poor end to the 2013 season. Perez earned $7.3MM last season and will get a raise through the arbitration process, so there have been rumors that the Tribe will look to deal or even non-tender the right-hander.
- Sandy Alomar Jr. will take over as first base coach from Mike Sarbaugh next season, a move that Francona stressed was not a demotion from Alomar's previous job as bench coach. Brad Mills (Francona's long-time bench coach with the Red Sox) will take over as Cleveland's bench coach, while Sarbaugh completes the shuffle by becoming the new third base coach.
- Antonetti didn't comment on whether or not the Cubs have asked for permission to interview first base coach Sandy Alomar for their vacant managerial position. Alomar was a candidate for the Cubs job in 2011 before they hired Dale Sveum, and he's been linked to their current vacancy.
- Lonnie Chisenhall is still the incumbent third baseman, though Bastian suspects the club will look to improve themselves at the hot corner this winter.
- The Indians made the playoffs despite subpar seasons from Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, their two big free agent signings from last offseason. Francona and Antonetti felt that the two players may have been pressing in a new environment, plus Swisher was affected by a shoulder injury and Bourn was adjusting to the American League.
For today's installment of MLBTR's Free Agent Faceoff series, we'll look at a couple of former aces, both 29-year-old righties, whose careers have followed a similar trajectory over the last few years: Tim Lincecum and Ubaldo Jimenez.
These guys were once expected to headline this year's free agent class. Over the 2009-10 seasons, Lincecum (11.7 fWAR) and Jimenez (12.1 fWAR) were among the ten most productive pitchers in the game. In 2011, they took a step back but were still solid: looking past their divergent ERA figures (2.74 for Lincecum; 4.68 for Jimenez), both posted fWAR tallies in the mid-3's. Last year, the wheels fell off. The two combined for just one win above replacement.
The 2013 season has seen partial resurrections for both pitchers. Certainly, neither will hit the market as an ace. But both bring high strikeout rates and durability to the table. Since 2008, neither hurler has failed to make at least thirty starts. Of course, that statistic also implies mileage: Lincecum has logged over 1400, and Jimenez just shy of 1300, career innings. But these one-time stars should generate a lot of interest in a pitching market largely bereft of top-level talent. Let's take a closer look:
At first glance, Lincecum's 2013 season looks like a marginal improvement on 2012, and in some ways it is: he is carrying just a 4.44 ERA in 190 2/3 innings, and his strikeouts are down (though so are his walks). On the other hand, Lincecum's year looks much better in the eyes of advanced metrics: his FIP (3.77), xFIP (3.57), and SIERA (3.75) are all better than his 2013 ERA as well as his 2012 marks. Broadly, Lincecum seems to have figured out how to be successful -- albeit not dominant -- with less overwhelming stuff. As Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com writes, Lincecum is a more mature pitcher now.
Though Lincecum's fastball velocity dipped in 2010, it took a more remarkable downturn between 2011 (92.2 MPH) and 2012 (90.4 MPH). Not coincidentally, perhaps, his offspeed offerings (slider, curve, change up) all registered negative pitch values last year. Lincecum's change, in particular, went from being his best pitch to his worst, as he was seemingly unable or unwilling to pound the zone low-and-away with the offering. He has apparently re-learned how to use his slow ball in 2013, to improved results. Though Lincecum no longer looks like a top-tier pitcher, he proved this season that he can still dial it up at times (as in his no-hitter) and, perhaps more importantly, that he should be a reliable rotation piece.
Likewise, Jimenez entered the year with real questions about whether or not he would continue to be a guy that a team felt comfortable trotting out every fifth day. As with Lincecum, he has in large part answered those questions. MLBTR's Steve Adams just profiled Jimenez, who is likely to exercise his right to void the $8MM club option that the Indians hold on him for 2014. As Adams noted, Jimenez has produced excellent results at the right time: he sports a 2.72 ERA and 2.31 K:BB ratio over his last 145 2/3 innings, and has restored his ground-ball rate to his career levels. Though advanced metrics do not quite support his cumulative 3.39 ERA on the year, neither do they undermine his usefulness: Jimenez sports a 3.62 FIP, 3.77 xFIP, and 3.88 SIERA.
Even moreso than Lincecum, Jimenez has dealt with a drastic velocity decline. His fastball, which once sat at 96, dropped to a 93.9 MPH average in 2011 and then fell off a table last year to 92.5 MPH. In reponse to his poor results in 2012, Jimenez made adjustments to his repertoire. He has continued to increase the usage of his change-up ever since his speed started to dip, and now throws it 20.2% of the time. More importantly, perhaps, Jimenez has largely abandoned his curve (3.7%) for his slider (22.3%), a big swing from his previous pitch mix. While I cannot make a full case for causation, the slider has the highest pitch value of any of Jimenez's offerings in 2013. Whatever the reason, Jimenez has restored his ability to generate swings and misses (8.8% SwStr% in 2013 vs. 7.0% in 2012), reduced his home run tendencies (0.85 vs. 1.27 HR/9), and restored his K:BB ratio to his prime levels (2.29 vs. 1.51 K:BB) while carrying a career-best 9.23 K/9.
Lincecum and Jimenez both have approximately the same age and arm mileage, and have posted similar underlying skill metrics in 2013. The Giants star has had greater highs and less-pronounced lows in his career than his counterpart in Cleveland, but in 2013 Jimenez actually increased his strikeout capabilities and outpaced Lincecum in fWAR (2.6 vs. 1.5). So, which one would you prefer your team target?
When the Indians sent four minor leaguers -- including a pair of first-round picks in Drew Pomeranz and Alex White -- to the Rockies to land Ubaldo Jimenez in July 2011, they likely pictured a controllable ace that could lead their rotation for two and a half seasons. That didn't prove to be the case off the bat, but over the past five months, Jimenez has looked every bit the part of the pitcher they were hoping to acquire.
Jimenez has a 2.72 ERA with 150 strikeouts against 65 walks in his past 145 2/3 innings dating back to April 29, and his 43.5 percent ground-ball rate is closer to his career level than last season's surprisingly low 38.4 percent mark. Jimenez's well-timed surge has likely changed him from a one-year deal type of pitcher to a multiyear asset that many teams will covet.
Jimenez will turn just 30 years old in January, making him one of the youngest starters available on the free agent market. Only Phil Hughes is decisively younger, while Josh Johnson and Scott Kazmir are roughly the same age. Each comes with red flags, as Hughes has had a rough season and been bumped from New York's rotation, while Johnson has been injured and ineffective all season, and Kazmir comes with his a long injury history and threw only 63 big league pitches from 2011-12.
Jimenez also racks up strikeouts frequently and is doing so at the highest rate of his career in 2013 (9.1 K/9). He comes without a significant platoon split, as right-handers have a career .689 OPS against him versus .709 for left-handers. In 2013, he's actually had a slight reverse-platoon split. When Jimenez is on his game, it doesn't matter what side of the plate opposing hitters are standing on.
He's also very durable. Jimenez has started at least 31 games in each season from 2008-12 and is on pace to start at least 30 contests in 2013. Among upcoming free agents, only Bronson Arroyo and Tim Lincecum have made more starts since 2008. Arroyo is seven years older, while Lincecum hasn't recovered from his struggles and diminished velocity like Jimenez has. He's been on the disabled list just once in his career, when he missed just over two weeks with a cut on the cuticle of his right thumb -- a non-concerning injury to say the very least.
Even when he's at his best, Jimenez's control has never been great. He's averaged 4.1 walks per nine innings in more than 1,200 career innings, and he's twice led the league in wild pitches. His ground-ball rate exceeded 50 percent with ease early in his career, but that number has dropped in recent seasons. His 43.5 percent mark in 2013 is a step up from 2012's mark of 38.4 percent, but he's still below the league average.
Jimenez's ground-ball rate isn't the only thing that's dropping; his once blistering 96.2 mph fastball has cooled off all the way down to an average of 91.7 mph this season. It's worth noting that like his ground-ball rate, his velocity has ticked back upward late in the season. Baseball Prospectus' Ben Lindbergh recently profiled (subscription required) some mechanical changes that Jimenez made to slow down his delivery, but even if those are to credit for his turnaround, one scout told Lindbergh that Jimenez's delivery is still flawed.
Jimenez enjoys spending time with his family and is very interested in music, as he demonstrated by showing off his drum skills in a visit to the MLB Fan Cave in 2012. However, those who know him describe him as driven and passionate about the game of baseball, noting that his main focus --especially when he isn't pitching up to his capability -- is delivering his best possible performance on the field.
The Indians hold an $8MM option on Jimenez, but the 2011 trade triggered a clause that will allow him to void the option if he wishes. He's a virtual lock to do that, which will force the Indians to decide whether or not to extend Jimenez a qualifying offer. Cleveland, who typically operates on a tight budget, already has more than $48MM in 2014 salary commitments before arbitration raises to Justin Masterson, Chris Perez, Michael Brantley, Drew Stubbs and Vinnie Pestano. A qualifying offer of nearly $14MM would seem to be too great a risk, especially given potential in-house replacements like Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer.
The Indians may yet be interested in retaining him -- they did exercise a $5.75MM club option last October in hopes of just this type of turnaround -- but Jimenez will undoubtedly appeal to a number of teams. As a pitcher who has endured recent struggles, he may prefer to seek maximum security in terms of years. Teams such as the Angels, Giants, Padres, Twins, Yankees, Orioles, Pirates, Brewers and Rockies could all be on the lookout for starting pitching help this offseason.
Jimenez has age and durability on his side as he heads into a free agent market that will consist of numerous teams looking to bolster their rotations. Many suitors could liken Jimenez's final five months of 2013 to his strong 2010 campaign and consider signing him an opportunity to get an ace-caliber starter at a below-market rate.
It's hard to peg someone who has had a comparable career, but Jorge De La Rosa was a similar high-strikeout, spotty command pitcher following the 2010 season when he signed a contract that guaranteed him three years and $30MM (two years, $21MM plus a $9MM player option that, if triggered, gave Colorado an $11MM club option for a fourth year). That contract is outdated, however, and De La Rosa never possessed Jimenez's durability.
If Jimenez decides he wants to risk a one-year deal in hopes of repeating 2013 and cashing in on a five-year deal at age 31, he could sign a contract in the one-year, $14MM range or simply accept a qualifying offer, should Cleveland extend one. A player with Jimenez's upside would certainly warrant $14MM on a one-year contract, however, the safer play would be for Jimenez to sign a contract in the three-year range.
Assuming he performs over the next three seasons, he could still hit the open market again heading into his age-33 season and earn another sizable contract. As a reliable innings eater with ace-caliber upside, I expect that he will sign a three-year, $39MM contract, with an outside chance that a team makes an Edwin Jackson type of offer (four years, $52MM).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Join me for a quick trip around the American League's Central Division, where the Tigers seem to have finally opened an insurmountable lead over the pesky Indians.
- With the Tigers visiting Fenway for the first time since acquiring Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox, GM Dave Dombrowski left no doubt that the club views the 23-year-old Cuban as its shortstop of the future, reports Jerry Spar of WEEI.com. “He’s an outstanding defensive shortstop," said Dombrowski. "He really changes the middle of the diamond. We have a lot of good pitchers, and some of them live with the ground ball, and so his range helps us appreciably — so quick out there." While defense was never the question with Iglesias, Dombrowski says that he does enough well in the rest of the game to stick as a starter. “He’s also hit well enough. ... He does a lot of little things for us as far as bunting, he can move the ball around, he can steal a base. ... He’s going to be our shortstop for years to come.”
- Of course, as MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth recently explained, the fate of suspended Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta is tied inextricably to that of Iglesias, who was acquired to replace him. Dombrowski's comments certainly seem to indicate that he views Iglesias as a better fit for the short and long term, leaving no apparent role for the free agent-to-be Peralta.
- White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers will undergo exploratory shoulder surgery and be out of commission for about three to six months, reports Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com (via Twitter). The South Siders' catching situation will be interesting to watch over the off-season. Flowers struggled this year with persistent shoulder issues, and 25-year-old Josh Phegley has failed to impress in his first big league showcase (.211/.221/.331 in 147 plate appearances). The club did just call up 22-year-old Miguel Gonzalez, a defense-first backstop who .254/.326/.349 in 190 plate appearances at Double-A and Triple-A this year. Once a top-10 prospect, Gonzalez's star has faded with his bat over the last several seasons. Fortunately for Chicago, all of these players will be making league mnimum next year.
- The Indians will soon face a decision on Ubaldo Jimenez's $8MM mutual 2014 option, notes Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Jimenez entered the season with a 5.32 ERA for the Indians since being acquired from the Rockies at the 2011 trade deadline, but appears to have righted the ship somewhat in 2013, posting a 3.95 ERA and career-best 9.1 K/9 in 141 1/3 innings. Pluto speculates that the Indians will pick up their end of the option, but that Jimenez will decline and become a free agent. Back in March, MLBTR's Steve Adams took a look back at the deal that brought Jimenez to Cleveland, when it seemed the 2014 option would be a complete no-brainer for the Indians to exercise.
- The Royals, too, are looking ahead at starting pitching questions over the coming off-season. As Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports, the club figures to stay the course with its young field position players, with GM Dayton Moore explaining that the team's core of "talented young players on the field" place the club "in the beginning stages of a window where this team can win consistently for a period of time." The rotation, on the other hand, will see the surprisingly excellent Ervin Santana and veteran Bruce Chen enter free agency. Dutton says that the club's decisionmaking process on those two starting slots will depend on a variety of factors, such as the organization's view of Danny Duffy and Wade Davis and the timetable for top prospects Yordano Ventura and Kyle Zimmer. It is unlikely, according to Dutton, that the team will outbid the market on Santana. "We want him here, but it’s difficult to predict," said Moore.
The Indians have overhauled their roster via free agency this season, adding the likes of Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Brett Myers and Mark Reynolds on Major League deals while bringing in notable veterans such as Matt Capps and Daisuke Matsuzaka on minor league pacts. At the 2011 Trade Deadline, however, the Tribe addressed its biggest needs in a different manner, dealing a package of four prospects to the Rockies in exchange for then-ace Ubaldo Jimenez.
Cleveland traded right-hander Alex White (22 years old at the time), first baseman Matt McBride (26 at the time), righty Joe Gardner (23 at the time) and lefty Drew Pomeranz (22 at the time) to Colorado in exchange for Jimenez, who had at least two and a half years of team control remaining on a low-cost contract. It was a steep price to pay, as Pomeranz and White represented the Indians' first-round picks from the previous two drafts. Gardner, meanwhile, had entered the season as Cleveland's No. 9 prospect, according to Baseball America.
The Major League Side
- Ubaldo Jimenez: To say Jimenez has been a disappointment in Cleveland would be putting things lightly. In 242 innings with the Indians, Jimenez has a 5.32 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9. He entered 2012 with a career ground-ball rate near 50 percent, but saw that mark plummet to 38.4 percent last year. His once-blazing fastball has dropped from an average of 96.1 mph from 2009-10 to just 92.5 mph in 2012. His 4.8 BB/9 last season was a career-worst, and he led the American League in both losses (17) and wild pitches (16). In spite of all that, Indians GM Chris Antonetti exercised the team's $5.75MM club option on Jimenez this past offseason in hopes that he can rebound to something in the vicinity of the ace-caliber pitcher he once was. Jimenez is just 29 years of age still, and the price was right for Cleveland to give him another shot. His performance in 2013 will be one of they key factors in Cleveland's fate as their revamped roster makes a run at dethroning the reigning AL Central champion Tigers.
- Drew Pomeranz: Pomeranz has a 5.01 ERA in 115 big league innings for the Rockies. His 1.9 K/BB ratio isn't exactly inspiring, but he was significantly better in a small minor league sample last season. Pomeranz posted a 2.31 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 50 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A (46 2/3 of which were at Triple-A). He's still just 24 years old and is one year removed from entering the season as BA's No. 30 overall prospect and MLB.com's No. 24 ranked prospect. His fastball was down to averaging 91.2 mph season after previously sitting several ticks higher, but BA noted prior to 2012 that his ability to keep the pitch down in the zone and his deceptive delivery allowed the pitch to play at lower velocity. If Pomeranz can regain some of his velocity and/or hone his command of the strike zone, there's still time for him to blossom into the No. 2 starter BA and MLB.com projected him to be.
- Alex White: Like Pomeranz, White struggled greatly in his Major League time with the Rockies. He posted an unsightly 6.30 ERA in 134 1/3 innings for the Rox from 2011-12. His marks of 5.9 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 were significantly worse than his Triple-A rates of 7.8 and 3.0, respectively. White put the ball on the ground frequently in 2012 (54.1 percent) but lost more than a mile per hour off his fastball, dropping to a 91.2 mph average (identical to Pomeranz's, oddly enough). White was injured at the time of the trade and missed 82 games in the 2011 season with a strained ligament in his finger. How much that impacted his 2012 results remains to be seen, but he'll have a chance to prove he's worthy of a spot in a Major League rotation. It won't be with the Rockies, however, as the team traded White to the Astros along with Alex Gillingham to acquire ace setup man Wilton Lopez.
The Prospect Side
- Joe Gardner: Gardner ranked as Colorado's No. 25 prospect prior to the 2012 season but dropped off the club's Top 30 list this year. He ranks 18th among Rockies' farmhands according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, however, who calls Gardner's sinking fastball a "groundball machine" and notes that his change-up has some deception that leads to swings and misses. He also features a "slurvy" slider that Mayo grades out to be slightly better than his change but worse than his fastball. Gardner worked primarily as a starter at the Double-A level, but Mayo notes that he was very sharp in a five-appearance bullpen cameo. In total, Gardner compiled a 3.97 ERA, 6.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 138 1/3 innings during his age-24 season. Today is his 25th birthday (Happy birthday, Joe!), and should have a chance to crack the big league roster this season with a strong minor league performance.
- Matt McBride: McBride is currently Colorado's 33rd best prospect, according to BA, though they note that most of his value comes as a utility player due to the fact that he can play catcher on occasion. BA notes that he's a poor defender whether behind the plate, in right field or at first base, and that his ability to make frequent contact is accompanied by a lack of home run power. McBride hit .205/.222/.308 in 81 plate appearances for the Rockies last season, walking only once and whiffing 17 times. He did manage a .344/.365/.535 triple slash line at Triple-A. Still, at 27 years of age, he's not much of a prospect at this point, which was reflected in Colorado's decision to remove him from the 40-man roster in November.
That Joe Gardner and Matt McBride posted the best 2012 numbers of anyone involved in this trade is a telling sign. To be blunt, the deal currently doesn't look good for either side. A rebound campaign for Jimenez or a breakout from Pomeranz would alter that, but surely both teams had visions of aces in their minds when pulling the trigger on this deal -- not a host of 5.00+ ERAs. Colorado picked up some value in flipping White for a strong bullpen arm with three years of team control remaining, though that could prove regrettable if White puts it all together as an Astro. For the time being, three teams are simply left hoping that they can squeeze some value out of the once highly regarded talent in this deal.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
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.
There's arguably no better shortstop available via free agency or trade than Asdrubal Cabrera, and the Indians' asking price reflects that reality. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer writes that the Tribe is looking to get three-to-four prospects in exchange for their 27-year-old shortstop -- preferably four.
Hoynes writes that the Indians had a deal in place to acquire a Major League pitcher and two high-level prospects for Cabrera. That trade fell through when Cleveland asked that a third prospect be included in the package. The potential acquiring team would have switched Cabrera's position, for those who would like to play the speculation game.
Cabrera has two years and a total of $16.5MM remaining on his contract. Over the past two seasons, Cabrera has batted .272/.335/.443 with 41 home runs and 26 stolen bases.
In addition to Cabrera, Justin Masterson, Chris Perez and Shin-Soo Choo are drawing interest. The asking price on Perez is substantially lower than Cabrera's, one scout told Hoynes. Like Cabrera, Perez has two years of team control left. He's arbitration eligible for the third time as a Super Two player this offseason, and Matt Swartz has him projected at $7.2MM.
Hoynes notes that the Padres have called regarding both Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez. Masterson can become a free agent after the 2014 season and is projected to earn $5.7MM in arbitration this season. The Indians picked up Jimenez's $5.75MM option this offseason despite a dreadful season and drastically reduced fastball velocity. The Padres are likely attracted to Jimenez's durability and hopeful that a return to the NL West can help restore his numbers.
Jimenez, 28, will earn $5.75MM next season after pitching to a 5.40 ERA in 31 starts and 176 2/3 innings last year. Given his track record and age, it's a worthy gamble. The 35-year-old Hafner hit .228/.346/.438 in 263 plate appearances this year, and will receive a $2.75MM buyout instead of a $13MM salary. Hernandez, 32, allowed 15 runs in 14 1/3 innings across three starts this year. His option was worth $6MM.
As the World Series shifts to Comerica Park for tomorrow's Game Three, here's the latest from around the AL Central....
- The Royals' waiver claim pickup of Chris Volstad could be a sign of how the team plans to take a low-cost approach to upgrading its pitching staff, writes Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. Royals GM Dayton Moore said free agents "won’t be a long-term answer for us” because the club hopes to have homegrown pitching prospects in the rotation by 2014. “We’ve got to look internally,” Moore said. “We’ve got to look through trades. We’ve got to look, certainly, through free agency…we might be able to pick off a player or two, but we’re not going to build our team through free agency. It won’t work.”
- Given the Indians' need for pitching and the cost of acquiring new starters, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian believes the team won't deal starter Justin Masterson (Twitter link). The groundball specialist has been rumored to be on the trade market following a disappointing 2012 season.
- Travis Hafner's $13MM team option for 2013 is a sure bet to be bought out by the Indians, tweets Bastian, while the Tribe will likely also decline Roberto Hernandez's $6MM club option. Ubaldo Jimenez's $5.75MM club option for next season is "expected" to be picked up. Bastian thinks it's "hard to believe" that the Indians would re-sign the injury-plagued Grady Sizemore as a free agent.
- The White Sox face four difficult option decisions on Jake Peavy, Kevin Youkilis, Gavin Floyd and Brett Myers, writes Paul Swydan for ESPN (Insider subscription required). Swydan opines that Floyd is a more proven rotation candidate than Myers and "if only one option of the two is picked up, it should be Floyd's," while Youkilis could be a good candidate to be retained given Chicago's lack of depth at third base. Peavy's $22MM option "is difficult to justify" given his injury history, though Swydan notes that Peavy provided close to $20MM worth of value during his healthy 2012 season.
- In other White Sox news, Hahn discussed Peavy's option and more in his introductory press conference as the club's new general manager.
It was on this day in 1952 that the Indians used a record 23 players in a game against the Washington Senators. Despite using nearly their entire roster, the Indians still lost, 7-6, on Pete Runnels' walkoff single in the bottom of the ninth.
Here's the latest from Cleveland...
- Jose Lopez has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, tweets MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Lopez was designated for assignment on Tuesday so the Tribe could create a roster space for Johnny Damon.
- "Keep in mind, there was risk on both sides of the deal," Indians president Mark Shapiro said to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer when discussing last year's trade with the Rockies that brought Ubaldo Jimenez to the Tribe. "It's often like that when you trade a lot of pitchers, but they do get hurt [more often than position players]." Shapiro and GM Chris Antonetti both feel it's much too early to evaluate the trade, but Pluto feels the early returns don't favor the Indians thanks to Jimenez's struggles and mechanical issues.
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