Here’s a quick look around the American League:
- In terms of name value, Adam Jones ranks among the majors’ most prominent free agents, thanks to a successful 11-year run with the Orioles. Jones is coming off a below-average season, though, and as a 33-year-old corner outfielder whose best days as a hitter and defender are gone, he hasn’t drawn much reported interest in free agency. But there’s at least a glimmer of a chance the longtime Baltimore fan favorite will end up back with the Orioles, Joe Trezza of MLB.com relays. Asked Saturday about the possibility of re-signing Jones, rookie general manager Mike Elias said, “I don’t think anything is a dead issue,” and added the Orioles are “monitoring everything.” At the same time, however, Elias suggested the rebuilding club may continue to avoid major league free agency, as it has done so far this winter. Should that prove to be the case, it seems likely to rule out a return for Jones, who figures to command a big league deal.
- The Indians ran a franchise-high payroll in every season from 2016-18, each of which included an AL Central title, but that degree of spending “was unsustainable,” president Chris Antonetti said Saturday (per Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com). “So we did need to reposition ourselves financially, which we were able to do with a series of moves earlier in the offseason and provide ourselves that necessary financial flexibility that we needed (for 2019 and beyond).” After opening last year with a payroll in the $135MM range, the Indians are projected to begin 2019 near $119MM, according to Jason Martinez of Roster Resource. Obviously, then, Cleveland hasn’t been aggressive in upgrading its roster this winter, though it’s still the favorite in its division. If the Indians find themselves in contention during the summer trade season, they should be in position to bolster their roster from outside, Antonetti noted. For now, though, any further offseason additions will be modestly priced, Hoynes writes.
- The Tigers claimed infielder Kaleb Cowart from the Mariners on Thursday with the idea of using him as a two-way player, general manager Al Avila confirmed Saturday (via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News). “We felt there was a possibility of a two-way guy here,” Avila said. “We’re going to put him on the mound and see if he can recapture what our guys saw when he was drafted.” Cowart was a first-round pick of the Angels in 2010 as a position player, but he impressed Tigers scouts back then as a high school pitcher. “I always followed his career because of what I saw him do on the mound,” said assistant GM David Chadd, who was the Tigers’ director of scouting during Cowart’s draft year. At the time, Cowart offered a 92 to 95 mph fastball “with heavy life and a slider he threw for strikes,” in addition to a splitter, Chadd recounted. Now, given that Cowart has been a woeful hitter in the majors, has no minor league options remaining and is set to face plenty of competition for an infield spot, the 26-year-old’s best hope to make the Tigers may be to show he can be a viable MLB pitcher, as McCosky points out.