The Indians announced today that they have outrighted four pitchers from their 40-man roster. Lefty Tyler Olson and righties Cody Anderson, A.J. Cole, and Danny Salazar all elected free agency in lieu of a minor-league assignment.
That’s a rather notable group of arms for the pitching-rich Cleveland organization to cast out onto the open market. Olson was still a bit shy of arbitration eligibility, but the three right-handers would have qualified. Anderson and Cole each projected to earn $800K, while Salazar could have anticipated a repeat of his $4.5MM salary.
Olson, 30, had shown a surprising leap in swinging-strike rate in 2018. While he still allowed more earned runs than you’d like to see, the club understandably believed he’d be a useful hurler — particularly as a lefty specialist. As it turned out, Olson fell back to earth with a big velocity drop. He ended the campaign with 30 2/3 innings of 4.40 ERA ball and 8.2 K/9 against 4.7 BB/9.
The 29-year-old Anderson has long struggled with health issues but was able to return to the bigs for the first time since 2016. Unfortunately, he was knocked around in 8 2/3 innings at the game’s highest level.
Cole delivered an intriguing stat line on the surface, with a 3.81 ERA and 30:8 K/BB ratio over 26 innings. He’s still 27 years of age, averaged just under 95 mph with his fastball, and has maintained about a 14% swinging-strike rate in a relief role over the past two seasons. It’s tough to argue with the Indians front office when it comes to pitching decisions, but it’ll be interesting to see whether Cole is claimed.
As for Salazar, the best-known name on this list, his time in Cleveland will finally come to a close. That was a foregone conclusion by now. The injury-riddled former All-Star did show intriguing strikeout ability in his minor-league rehab run and made it back to the majors for one outing. But he ended up back on the injured list thereafter and eventually asked to be excused from the organization while struggling in yet another rehab effort.