The chances of the Indians trading one of Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer “seem to diminish by the day,” writes Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic in his latest notes column (subscription required). Rosenthal writes that Cleveland is instead looking at affordable options to round out the back end of the roster more than moving either of the oft-rumored-to-be-available righties. As MLBTR’s Ty Bradley recently noted in profiling the remaining needs of the American League Central’s five teams, the Indians could still use some outfield upgrades as well as help in the bullpen and behind the plate. Adding some veteran versatility for the bench could also prove prudent in Cleveland, where Jordan Luplow, out-of-options Max Moroff and non-roster invitee Mike Freeman are currently among the candidates for bench roles.
Elsewhere in the American League Central…
- The Twins obviously plan to use Nelson Cruz primarily as a designated hitter, but manager Rocco Baldelli at least raised the possibility that Cruz could see occasional outfield work in 2019, as Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. “We’re going to work with him and have a lot of conversations about how he is doing,” said Baldelli. “How he feels. How he prepares for the season to play in the outfield.” Presumably, Cruz would be more of an emergency option or perhaps an option in National League parks during interleague play. Minnesota, after all, isn’t short on young, athletic outfield options with Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler currently in line for the bulk of the corner outfield work, plus Byron Buxton and Jake Cave in the center field mix. Miller also quotes Cruz on his decision to sign in Minnesota, which was influenced in part by his familiarity with GM Thad Levine and former Orioles teammate/new Twins second baseman Jonathan Schoop. Meanwhile, Rosenthal adds that Cruz did receive two-year offers in free agency, but none that would’ve come close to the $26MM he can earn if the Twins exercise his 2020 option. The Rays and Astros were among the other teams prominently linked to Cruz in free agency.
- Chris McCosky of the Detroit News chats with Tigers prospect Bryan Garcia, who is now 11 months removed from Tommy John surgery and is nearing a return to the mound. As McCosky notes, the Detroit farm system looks dramatically different now than it did a year ago, when Garcia was ranked among the organization’s more promising young arms. MLB.com still ranks Garcia as the Tigers’ No. 22 farmhand, but he’s been leapfrogged by numerous pitchers over the course of the year he missed. None of that bothers Garcia, who discusses his decision to undergo surgery, his mindset during rehab and his 2019 outlook at lengthy with McCosky. A sixth-rounder in 2016, Garcia enjoyed a meteoric rise through Detroit’s system in ’17, ascending from Low-A to Triple-A and amassing 55 innings of 2.13 ERA ball with 12.8 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9 along the way. Tigers VP of player development Dave Littlefield tells McCosky that the goal is for Garcia to be pitching competitively by May. The 23-year-old could well emerge as a ’pen option in Detroit in late 2019 or in 2020, though Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen wrote last May that Garcia could also have the stuff to start.