- The Indians will place Lonnie Chisenhall on the 10-day DL to open the year, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. But the shoulder injury he suffered in a recent collision with the outfield wall doesn’t seem likely to keep him out for much more than the minimum. For the time being, at least, Abraham Almonte will take a spot on the active roster.
MARCH 28: Cleveland has announced the signing.
MARCH 25: Ramirez receives a $2MM signing bonus and a $571.4K salary for 2017, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Ramirez will earn just under $2.429MM in 2018, so he’ll make a combined $3MM in salary over the next two seasons. The rest of the contract breaks down as $3.75MM in 2019, $6.25MM in 2020 and $9MM in 2021. There is a $2MM buyout of the $11MM club option in 2022 and the 2023 club option (with no buyout) is worth $13MM. Each club option year could be increased by $1M based on escalator clauses. The deal will become official when Ramirez passes a physical.
MARCH 24, 8:09pm: The guarantee includes Ramirez’s salary for the upcoming season, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets.
5:55pm: The Indians are close to finalizing a four-year deal with infielder Jose Ramirez, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. When it’s completed, the contract is expected to promise Ramirez $26MM, Passan tweets. It will also include a pair of options valued at $11MM and $13MM, respectively; escalators could push the total value of the deal’s six possible seasons to $50MM.
Ramirez, 24, has two years and 74 days of MLB service on his odometer. The deal will begin with the 2018 season, meaning it’ll cover his three seasons of arbitration eligibility and one campaign of potential free-agent eligibility. With the two options, the Indians will pick up three new years worth of control, meaning Ramirez could be in Cleveland through his age-31 season.
The Indians continue to rate as one of the game’s most aggressive pursuers of new contracts with existing players. Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes, Carlos Santana, Brandon Guyer, and Josh Tomlin are all playing on deals that extended the club’s control rights.
Now, Ramirez appears set to join that group — most of which is set to stay in Cleveland for quite a few years. Whether the club will make a concerted effort to do the same with star shortstop Francisco Lindor remains to be seen, but he surely seems to be the club’s most appealing remaining extension target.
Ramirez seemed an unlikely candidate for a sizable commitment this time last year, when he was coming off of a season in which he hit just .219/.291/.340 over 355 plate appearances. But his fortunes changed in a big way last year.
Slated to play a reserve role at the outset of the season, Ramirez ended up seeing action in all but ten of the club’s games due both to necessity and his performance. Over 618 plate appearances in 2016, the switch-hitter racked up 11 home runs and 22 steals while slashing .312/.363/.462 in 618 trips to the plate. He continued to show a high-contact approach; over his career, he has been roughly average in taking walks (7.3% walk rate) but strikes out in just 11 percent of his trips to the plate.
Though he’s a middle infielder by trade, Ramirez ended up playing mostly at third and in left last year. He’ll likely end up back at third at some point, but for the time being he’ll slide over to cover for the injured Kipnis. That versatility, clearly, is a key component of Ramirez’s value. Another area where Ramirez excelled last year was in the baserunning department. Though he had rated well in prior seasons, he lept to a robust 8.8 runs above average by measure of Fangraphs’ BsR, placing him fifth in all of baseball.
A repeat of his 2016 season could’ve set the stage for a fairly hefty arbitration salary and enhanced Ramirez’s value yet further. But it’s easy to see the appeal of this contract, which takes away the risk of a drop in performance and sits fairly comfortably in range of many similar deals. (Plus, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets, Ramirez himself is said to have wanted to land a long-term pact.) 2+ service-class players such as Ender Inciarte and Odubel Herrera landed guarantees right at the $30MM mark, but both have logged two full seasons as productive regulars. The closest recent comparable is Kolten Wong’s five-year, $25.5MM deal with the Cardinals, which included one option year.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- An extension for Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor appears unlikely unless the team is willing to pay him at elite rates, Rosenthal opines. Lindor is on track to become a free agent at 28, and he has an endorsement deal with New Balance that provides him with extra funds during these early-career seasons during which his pay is relatively minimal.
Yesterday, we heard word of extension talks between Francisco Lindor and the Indians that was broken by a unique source — Cleveland GM Mike Chernoff’s six-year-old son, Brody. Brody said during a game broadcast that his dad was “trying to get Lindor to play for seven more years.” But the young Chernoff had his facts wrong, according to Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes. “Brody overheard my phone call about Jose Ramirez finalizing a deal that could keep him here for seven years,” says Mike Chernoff. “It was pretty funny. You gotta love kids.” This weekend, of course, the Indians reportedly neared a five-year extension with Ramirez that included two club options. It appears Brody’s first scoop was a bust, although he’s got plenty of time to work on his craft — recent history shows that baseball rumor reporters don’t peak until at least age 13. Here are more quick notes from the AL.
The Indians have made a habit of signing young stars to extensions, and it isn’t any surprise that the team has apparently been in talks with shortstop Francisco Lindor. The specific nature of the talks may have been revealed by a unique source — Brody Chernoff, the six-year-old son of Tribe GM Mike Chernoff (as per the Associated Press). Young Brody sat in with radio broadcaster Tom Hamilton during today’s game and, when asked what deals his dad was working on, replied “he’s trying to get Lindor to play for seven more years.” (audio link) A seven-year extension would cover Lindor’s two remaining pre-arb years, his three arbitration years and his first two free agent seasons. This is assuming that the proposed extension would begin for the coming season and overwrite Lindor’s current minimum salary, though we’ll have to wait for Brody’s next report for more details.
- Outfielder Austin Jackson will open the season on the Indians’ 25-man roster, tweets Ryan Lewis of Ohio.com. Jackson presumably would have opted out of his minor league contract Sunday had the Tribe cut him, but he’ll instead earn a $1.5MM salary as a major leaguer and potentially collect $4MM in incentives. The Indians have three left-handed-hitting starting outfielders in Michael Brantley, Tyler Naquin and Lonnie Chisenhall, so Jackson and Brandon Guyer will offer variety off the bench as righty-swingers. It’s also worth mentioning that the 30-year-old Jackson has typically been a capable fielder in center, where he has played almost exclusively and totaled 41 Defensive Runs Saved and a 6.9 Ultimate Zone Rating .
It was on this day in 1910 that the Chalmers Auto Company announced that a new car would be awarded to the batting champions from the American and National League. This innocent promotion ended up leading to a memorable controversy, as Cleveland’s Nap Lajoie “won” the AL batting title after collecting eight hits in nine at-bats (under very dubious circumstances) during a season-ending double-header against the St. Louis Browns. Chalmers ended up awarding cars to both Lajoie and runner-up Ty Cobb in the wake of the embarrassing situation.
Here’s some news from modern-day Cleveland baseball…
- There aren’t any extension talks going on between the Indians and Francisco Lindor, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (via Twitter). Cleveland isn’t necessarily in any rush since Lindor isn’t even eligible for arbitration for two more seasons, though the Tribe has historically looked to extend young talent when possible. Once Jose Ramirez’s extension is finalized, he’ll be the ninth member of the Tribe’s roster signed to a multi-year extension by the team. Lindor’s extension case will be particularly fascinating to watch given his status as one of the sport’s rising superstars. (Cleveland.com’s Zack Meisel recently speculated that a Lindor extension might cost the Indians something in the neighborhood of $65MM-$75MM on a six-year deal.)
- Ramirez’s extension was finalized after about a month of negotiations, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. According to Rafael Nieves, Ramirez’s agent, yesterday was the self-imposed deadline for the extension to be settled, so Ramirez could focus on preparing for Opening Day. Ramirez originally turned down an offer comparable to Jose Altuve’s four-year, $12MM extension with the Astros from 2013.
- Austin Jackson’s minor league contract with the Indians was known to contain an out clause near the end of Spring Training, and MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports (Twitter link) that Jackson’s opt-out date is actually tomorrow. Jackson is hitting well this spring though it may still be difficult for him to carve out a spot in the Tribe’s crowded outfield picture.
- After an offseason in “DFA limbo,” Richie Shaffer is hoping for some stability with the Tribe, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan writes. Shaffer was traded from the Rays to the Mariners in November and then designated for assignment and claimed by Seattle, Philadelphia and Cincinnati before finally landing in Cleveland on a waiver claim…and then being DFA’ed again and outrighted off the Indians’ 40-man roster. Needless to say, it was a trying offseason for Shaffer and his family, and Passan’s piece is well worth reading as an insight into how such transactions take their toll on a player. “That was the first time I’d ever been talked about in that light – as a player a team would consider DFA’ing,” Shaffer said. “A year prior to that, I was in the Futures Game….Baseball’s an odd business. The game is pretty simple, but the business is strange. Once you get DFA’d once, there’s almost this perception that you’re a guy who can be DFA’d. Essentially, the next person who picks you up gets you for nothing, so you’re just as expendable to the next team because they got you free.”
Fresh off of a World Series run, Cleveland obviously would’ve needed to be rather impressed to give the 26-year-old an active roster spot. He did rack up nine strikeouts against three walks in his seven spring innings, though he also coughed up seven earned runs on nine hits.
Milner could factor into the Phillies’ depth plans entering the year now that he’s back in the fold. He did have a rather impressive 2016 season. Despite carrying pedestrian strikeout totals for most of his career to that point, Milner averaged 10.5 K/9 against just 2.1 BB/9 in his 65 frames in the upper minors, with a shiny 2.49 ERA on the year.
- Indians righty Carlos Carrasco could begin the year in extended spring training as he looks to build up his arm strength after a bout with elbow soreness, writes Terry Pluto of cleveland.com. The Indians have two off days in the first two weeks of the season, which would enable them to be patient with Carrasco and not have to use five starters immediately.
- Superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor is under Indians control for the next five seasons, including two pre-arbitration years, but Zack Meisel of cleveland.com wonders how much the Tribe would have to pay to keep him in the fold for longer. Noting that the Indians would like to buy out at least one free agent year, Meisel proposes a six-year extension worth between $65MM and $75MM. Such a deal would indeed keep Lindor with the Indians for an extra season, and it would make him the first shortstop with between one and two years’ service time to ink an extension since then-Brave Andrelton Simmons (1.125 years) signed a seven-year, $58MM deal that bought out two free agent years in February 2014. At that point, the defensive virtuoso was a .256/.304/.400 hitter who had swatted 20 home runs, stolen seven bases and accounted for 6.6 fWAR over his initial 840 plate appearances. Lindor, who has one year and 113 days of service time, owns a .306/.356/.454 line, 27 homers, 31 steals and 10.4 fWAR in 1,122 PAs. He’s also an elite-caliber defender.