The Indians have informed first baseman Jake Bauers, lefty Oliver Perez, infielder Yu Chang and outfielder Ben Gamel that they’ve made the Opening Day roster, the club announced to reporters (Twitter links via Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon-Journal). First base prospect Bobby Bradley, outfielder Bradley Zimmer, veteran righty Blake Parker and young lefty Kyle Nelson have all been told they will not head north with the club.
The slate of decisions means that Bauers, who is out of minor league options, will get one more opportunity to fend off Bradley. Bauers didn’t show particularly well this spring, slashing just .200/.429/.280 in 35 trips to the plate. Bradley’s .303/.314/.636 output trounced that, but we’re looking at small samples of data and it’s common this time of year for clubs to be averse to losing out-of-options players on waivers.
Bauers is still just 25 years old and is a former top prospect himself, although he didn’t play in the big leagues last year and carries a rather marginal .214/.314/.377 slash in 811 career plate appearances. Bradley, 24, got an opportunity in the big leagues last season but stumbled with a .178/.245/.356 line in 49 trips to the plate.
With the Indians optioning both Zimmer and Oscar Mercado to Triple-A this week, it appears that Gamel, who’d been in camp as a non-roster invitee, will be one of their primary options in center field. He could split time with Amed Rosario there, although Cleveland’s experiments with him in the outfield thus far in Spring Training have been somewhat adventurous. Gamel has more experience there and seems likely to see plenty of opportunity despite a tepid .212/.316/.364 showing in 38 spring plate appearances.
Chang’s case for a roster spot improved earlier in camp when veteran Mike Freeman was traded over to the Reds. The 25-year-old Chang hasn’t hit much in parts of two seasons with the Indians in 2019-20, but he’s also received just 97 plate appearances in the Majors. Perez, meanwhile, has spent the past three seasons in Cleveland’s bullpen and thrown quite well, so it comes as little surprise that they’ll bring him back for a fourth year. Parker came to camp with a decent chance to grab a spot but has been clobbered for a dozen runs in 6 1/3 innings. His track record in the big leagues is obviously quite a bit better than that disastrous showing, but it’s not hard to see why Cleveland went in another direction after that audition.
Though the team has announced its decisions, the moves themselves aren’t yet formal. Both Perez and Gamel were in camp on non-roster deals, as was veteran righty Bryan Shaw, who made the club earlier in the week. All three will need to be added to the 40-man roster between now and Opening Day, so the Indians clearly have some roster tweaking on the horizon.