- The Indians reportedly plan to play Jason Kipnis at second base in 2018, but they haven’t yet informed him of that, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com relays. It’s “more than likely” Kipnis will man the keystone, manager Terry Francona acknowledged, though Bastian notes that he may open the year in left field if Michael Brantley isn’t ready to return from the right ankle surgery he underwent in October. Kipnis, for his part, is “excited to play wherever they need me.” The career-long Indian, 30, also indicated he’s pleased to still be with Cleveland, despite offseason trade rumors.
We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves in this post…
- The Indians have inked a minors pact with lefty reliever Adam Wilk, who’ll receive an invite to spring training. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that Wilk stands to make $560K if he makes the opening day roster, and can opt out of his contract if he doesn’t. The 30-year-old pitched 14 MLB innings last season with the Mets and Twins; he’s also played for the Tigers and Angels during his big-league career. Wilk averages just 88 MPH on his fastball, but boasts a five-pitch repertoire. He throws a four-seamer, sinker, slider, curve and change up; each makes up at least 10% of his pitch selection. For his career, the southpaw has a 7.36 ERA. Right-handed batters have hit .331/.380/.664 against him.
The Indians and Orioles were in contact last month about a trade that could have sent Manny Machado to Cleveland, Jon Morosi of MLB.com writes, although he adds that the two teams are no longer actively discussing a deal. The O’s have a notable dearth of viable starting pitchers, while Cleveland is said to be willing to trade right-hander Danny Salazar. For their part the Indians are one of the few teams who could afford to deal from their rotation in order to add a premium position player like Machado. Morosi describes 2018 as a “pivotal year” for the Orioles franchise, while Dave Cameron (formerly of Fangraphs) wrote a piece a month ago detailing the Tribe’s limited window of eliteness as a reason to splurge on Machado now. A Machado acquisition would likely push Jose Ramirez to second base and push Jason Kipnis back to positional limbo, which complicates a hypothetical deal from a logistics standpoint.
More news and rumors about the Indians…
- Lefty fireman Andrew Miller is well-known as a force on the mound, but he’s also got a big voice in the MLBPA. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN discussed the subject of pitch clocks with the Indians reliever recently. One of four elected representatives of the association, Miller hopes that the pitch clock negotiations don’t lead to “some sort of ugly showdown.” He told ESPN that the players understand that they need to put out the best product possible from an entertainment standpoint, and that there’s certainly a need for an adjustment. However, he expresses that the lack of a ticking clock is “one of the things about the sport that makes us so appealing and so unique.” Miller’s viewpoint, while level-headed, reveals a polite distaste for the way MLB is going about the process.
- Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal outlines his case for an Indians-Marlins trade involving outfielder Christian Yelich. Such a move, Lewis says, would help improve the Tribe’s competitive window through 2020, by which point they stand to lose the bulk of their core (Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Edwin Encarnacion and Jason Kipnis, to name a few). Lewis does take care to mention that the team already has a large surplus of left-handed-hitting outfielders, but also points out that Yelich would serve as an upgrade in 2018 regardless, and would fill what could be a potential hole in right field starting in 2019. From my own standpoint, it seems that while the Indians make sense as a potential fit (I mentioned them when I explored Yelich’s trade value last week), adding the 26-year-old Yelich to the fold would involve dealing heavily from their depth to add a player who seems more of a luxury than a necessity.
We’ve covered a whole lot of arbitration deals today, many of them reached before today’s deadline to exchange filing figures. Some other agreements have come together after team and player submitted their numbers. It’s still possible, of course, that these situations will be resolved before an arbitration hearing becomes necessary. (At this point, we seem to lack full clarity on teams’ approaches to negotiations after the filing deadline. And most organizations make exceptions for multi-year deals even if they have a file-and-trial stance.)
Some situations could even be dealt with in short order. As things stand, though, these unresolved arbitration cases could turn into significant hearings. (As always, MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration projections can be found here; you will also want to reference MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration tracker.)
- Mookie Betts, Red Sox: expected to go to hearing, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe; Betts filed at $10.5MM, Boston countered at $7.5MM (per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag, via Twitter)
- George Springer, Astros: did not settle, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter); Springer filed at $10.5MM, Houston countered at $8.5MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Ken Giles, Astros: did not settle, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter); Giles filed at $4.6MM, Houston countered at $4.2MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Collin McHugh, Astros: did not settle, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter); McHugh filed at $5.0MM, Houston countered at $4.55MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Jonathan Schoop, Orioles: Schoop filed at $9MM, Baltimore countered at $7.5MM (per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, via Twitter)
- Kevin Gausman, Orioles: Gausman filed at $6.225MM, Baltimore countered at $5.3MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays: Stroman filed at $6.9MM, Toronto countered at $6.5MM (per Nightengale, via Twitter)
- Roberto Osuna, Blue Jays: Osuna filed at $5.8MM, Toronto countered at $5.3MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Jose Iglesias, Tigers: Iglesias filed at $6.8MM, Detroit countered at $5.6MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Avisail Garcia, White Sox: Garcia filed at $6.7MM, Chicago countered at $5.85MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Trevor Bauer, Indians: Bauer filed at $6.525MM, Cleveland countered at $5.3MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Jake Odorizzi, Rays: Odorizzi filed at $6.3MM, Tampa Bay countered at $6.05MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Adeiny Hechavarria, Rays: Hechavarria filed at $5.9MM, Tampa Bay countered at $5.35MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Scooter Gennett, Reds: expected to go to hearing, per Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer; Gennett filed at $5.7MM, Cincinnati countered at $5.1MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Eugenio Suarez, Reds: expected to go to hearing, per Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer; Suarez filed at $4.2MM, Cincinnati countered at $3.75MM (per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, via Twitter)
- Shelby Miller, Diamondbacks: Miller filed at $4.9MM, Arizona countered $4.7MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Kyle Gibson, Twins: Gibson filed at $4.55MM, Minnesota countered at $4.2MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- J.T. Realmuto, Marlins: have not agreed to terms, per team announcement; Realmuto filed at $3.5MM, Miami countered at 2.9MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Dan Straily, Marlins: have not agreed to terms, per team announcement; Straily filed at $3.55MM, Miami countered at $3.37MM (per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, via Twitter)
- Justin Bour, Marlins: have not agreed to terms, per team announcement; Bour filed at $3.4MM, Miami countered at $3MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Brandon Maurer, Royals: have hit stalemate, per Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com (via Twitter); Maurer filed at $3.5MM, Kansas City countered at $2.95MM (per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, via Twitter)
- Felipe Rivero, Pirates: Rivero filed at $2.9MM, Pittsburgh countered at $2.4MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Kendall Graveman, Athletics: Graveman filed at $2.6MM, Oakland countered at $2.36MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Justin Grimm, Cubs: Grimm filed at $2.475MM, Chicago countered at $2.2MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Mike Foltynewicz, Braves: Foltynewicz filed at $2.3MM, Atlanta countered at $2.2MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Zack Wheeler, Mets: Wheeler filed at $1.9MM, New York countered at $1.5MM (per Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, via Twitter)
- Other tendered players who have not yet reportedly agreed to terms: Yolmer Sanchez, White Sox; Brad Hand, Padres
The deadline for MLB teams to exchange salary arbitration figures with their arbitration-eligible players is today at 1pm ET. As such, there will be a veritable flood of arb agreements piling up in the next few hours — especially in light of a more universal approach to the “file and trial” method for teams. (That is to say, those teams will no longer negotiate one-year deals after arb figures are exchanged and will instead head to a hearing with those players, barring an agreemenr on a multi-year deal.)
Note that you can keep an eye on all of today’s deals using MLBTR’s 2018 Arbitration Tracker, which can be filtered to show only the results of the team you follow and is also sortable by service time and dollar value of the agreement. All projections that are referenced come from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz’s annual compilation of projected arbitration salarie
American League West
- The Astros and Evan Gattis agreed to a $6.7MM deal for 2018, per FanRag’s Robert Murray (Twitter link). A free agent next season, Gattis lands within $100K of his $6.6MM projection. The club also has deals (for values unknown) with starters Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers Jr., and Brad Peacock, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
- The Rangers agreed to a $1.05MM deal with infielder Jurickson Profar, tweets Murray. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram, meanwhile, tweets that lefty Jake Diekman landed a $2.7125MM deal and righty Keone Kela will earn $1.2MM. Profar had been projected at $1.1MM and is controllable another three seasons. Diekman, a free agent next winter, was projected at $2.8MM. And Kela, still controlled for three more years, matched his $1.2MM projection on the dot.
- The Athletics and closer Blake Treinen agreed to a $2.15MM deal for next year, tweets Murray. The A’s can control Treinen for another three years. He was projected at $2.3MM. Shortstop Marcus Semien has settled for $3.125MM, Heyman tweets; his $3.2MM projection was nearly spot-on. Oakland has announced that it has avoided arbitration with Liam Hendriks and Josh Phegley as well, but their salaries have yet to be reported.
- The Angels have a one-year, $7.3MM agreement in place with right-hander Garrett Richards, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (Twitter link). Richards, a free agent next offseason, tops his $7MM projection by a margin of $300K. The Halos have also avoided arb with first baseman C.J. Cron ($2.3MM) and left-hander Tyler Skaggs ($1.875MM), tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. Cron’s total falls a ways shy of his $2.8MM projection, while Skaggs comes in just $25K south of his $1.9MM projection. Both are controllable through the 2020 season. Lastly, Murray tweets that Matt Shoemaker agreed to a $4.125MM deal. He’s controlled through 2020 and projected at $4.4MM. Fletcher also tweets that the club has agreed with righty J.C. Ramirez ($1.9MM salary vs. $2.6MM projection) and lefty Jose Alvarez ($1.05MM salary vs. $1.1MM projection). Finally, righty Cam Bedrosian has agreed at $1.1MM, Flecher tweets, which represents a payday close to his projection of $1.2MM.
- Left-hander James Paxton will earn $4.9MM with the Mariners in 2018, tweets Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Murray tweets that the Mariners and David Phelps agreed to a $5.55MM deal. Paxton, controlled through 2020, projected to earn $5.6MM, while Phelps was pegged at $5.8MM. He’s a free agent next winter. Righty Erasmo Ramirez took a $4.2MM deal, MLB.com’s Greg Johns reports. That’s half a million shy of what the model suggested. Fellow right-hander Nick Vincent also has an agreement, but the terms aren’t yet known.
American League Central
- New lefty Luis Avilan has agreed to a $2.45MM deal with the White Sox, Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reports via Twitter. The recent trade acquisition came with a projected $2.3MM price tag. Fellow southpaw Carlos Rodon will receive $2.3MM, a bit of a bump over the $2MM he projected to receive. Also, utilityman Leury Garcia gets $1.175MM, which is just $25K short of his projected value.
- The Royals and righty Nate Karns agreed to a $1.375MM deal for 2018, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reports (on Twitter). That lands within $25K of his $1.4MM projection for the coming season. Kansas City controls Karns through 2020. Meanwhile, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports (via Twitter) that Kelvin Herrera will earn $7.9375MM in 2018, landing a bit shy of his $8.3MM projection. Herrera is a free agent next winter.
- The Indians have a $5MM agreement with righty Danny Salazar, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. He had projected to earn just $200K more, this falls right in line with expectations. Cleveland also agreed with Lonnie Chisenhall on a $5.5875MM deal, tweets Nightengale. The third baseman-turned-outfielder, who was projected to earn $5.8MM, will be a free agent following the 2018 season.
- Trevor May has a $650K agreement with the Twins for the 2018 season, according to Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. May, who missed the entire season due to Tommy John surgery (and did some writing for MLBTR during his rehab process), had been projected at $600K. The Twins also agreed to a $1MM deal with infielder Ehire Adrianza, per La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune. Meanwhile, righty Ryan Pressly has agreed to a $1.6MM deal, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Both deals are identical matches with their projections. Adrianza has three years of team control remaining, while Pressly has two. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets that outfielder Robbie Grossman settled at $2MM, leaving him $400K shy of his projection. Grossman is controlled for another three seasons.
- Tigers third baseman/outfielder Nick Castellanos will earn $6.05MM, per Heyman (via Twitter). He had projected at a much heftier $7.6MM in his second-to-last season of arb eligibility. MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports (Twitter links) that the Tigers and right-handed reliever Alex Wilson settled at $1.925MM, while fellow righty Shane Greene will earn $1.95MM. Wilson was projected to earn $2.1MM, while Greene was at $1.7MM. Wilson is controlled through 2019, while Greene is under control through 2020.
American League East
- The Yankees have knocked out some of their biggest arb cases, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter links). Shortstop Didi Gregorius receives $8.25MM and righty Sonny Gray checks in at $6.5MM. The former had projected to earn $9.0MM while the algorithm was just $100K high on the latter.Backstop Austin Romine will earn $1.1MM, Heyman also tweets, which is also $100K below the projection. Righty Adam Warren and the Yankees have a $3.315MM deal, per Murray (Twitter link). This is Warren’s final season of eligibility before hitting the open market next winter. He’d been projected at $3.1MM. Meanwhile, fellow right-hander Dellin Betances has agreed to a $5.1MM deal, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter). That’s just $100K more than Betances had sought last year, when he took his case to a hearing that he ultimately lost. But it’s quite a bit more than the $4.4MM he projected to receive after a subpar season in which he played at a $3MM salary.
- The Red Sox have agreed to pay $8.5MM to southpaw Drew Pomeranz, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). That’s short of the $9.1MM that had been projected after Pomeranz turned in a productive 2017 season. Boston and Jackie Bradley Jr. settled at $6.1MM, tweets Murray. That’s a bit north of the $5.9MM at which he’d been projected for the upcoming season. Bradley Jr., a Super Two player, has another three seasons of club control remaining. Nightengale tweets that righty Joe Kelly ($3.6MM projection) agreed to a $3.825MM deal. He’ll be a free agent next winter. Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez ($2.375MM salary vs. $2.7MM projection) and righty Brandon Workman ($835K salary vs. $900K projection) are two other Sox hurlers that have agreed to terms, Speier reports (Twitter links). On the position player side, catcher Sandy Leon falls a bit under his projection $1.95MM (via Speier, on Twitter) while utilityman Brock Holt just beats expectations at $2.225MM (per ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, on Twitter). The team also agreed with shortstop Xander Bogaerts for $7.05MM, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston tweets, which comes in a bit shy of his $7.6MM projection. Boston also announced agreement with backstop Christian Vazquez, who’ll earn $1.425MM, per MLB.com’s Ian Browne (via Twitter). That’s just under the projection of $1.5MM.
- The Blue Jays and righty Aaron Sanchez agreed to a $2.7MM deal for 2018, according to Nightengale (Twitter link). That crushes his $1.9MM projection, which was likely suppressed due Sanchez’s lack of innings (just 36) in 2017. He’s under Jays control through 2020. Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, meanwhile, tweets that second baseman Devon Travis will make $1.45MM next year, falling a bit shy of his $1.7MM forecast. Other Toronto players agreeing to terms include Kevin Pillar ($3.25MM vs. $4.0MM projection) and Dominic Leone ($1.085MM vs. $1.2MM projection), MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm tweets.
- The Rays and closer Alex Colome settled at $5.3M, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (on Twitter). He’d been projected at $5.5MM and is controllable for three more years. They also settled at $5.95MM with outfielder/DH Corey Dickerson ($6.4MM projection) and $4.5MM with infielder Brad Miller ($4.4MM projection), per Murray (all Twitter links). Steven Souza, according to Murray will earn $3.55MM, placing him right in line with his $3.6MM projection. Dickerson and Miller are controlled through 2019. Souza is controlled through 2020.
- Righty Zach McAllister will receive $2.45MM from the Indians, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag reports on Twitter. Entering his third and final year of eligibility, the 30-year-old had projected at a $2.4MM rate, so he’s coming in right at expectations. McAllister ran a 2.61 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 last year over 62 innings, representing his best full season of work. He has been a steady performer since moving into a full-time relief role in 2015.
- Seeking value will no doubt still drive Chicago, but it’s an imperative for the Indians. Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer names 15 free agents who might represent highly affordable targets for the Cleveland organization. Buttressing the relief corps and adding a righty bat seem to be the top priorities, Hoynes notes.
The Mets and Indians very nearly pulled off a deal that would have sent Jason Kipnis to New York, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag. Upper management — Heyman hints on the Mets side — ended up scuttling a deal that seemed to be in place.
Kipnis was widely rumored to be on New York’s radar last month. For the Mets, the veteran would have plugged a hole at second base. And for the Indians, the considerations were mostly financial, as Kipnis is due $30.5MM on his deal (covering two more seasons along with a buyout on a 2020 option).
It was money, it seems, that caused the hang-up here. While the prospect cost was not prohibitive, Heyman says that “Mets higher-ups didn’t see Kipnis as good value.” Whether Cleveland would have paid down any portion of the remaining obligations in the proposed agreement is not known.
At this point, it would appear that the odds of talks re-opening are low. The Mets just landed free agent slugger Jay Bruce in a move that will occupy a significant portion of their remaining payroll availability. On the Indians’ side, moving the Kipnis contract likely would have helped facilitate their pursuit of Carlos Santana, but he reportedly agreed to terms with the Phillies on December 15th — right after the Mets/Kipnis talk heated up and before it died down.
In any event, the Mets do still need a second baseman — or, perhaps, a third baseman who’d bump Asdrubal Cabrera over to second. As Mike Puma of the New York Post wrote this morning, it seems the club still has a variety of open-market possibilities to consider in the infield. Todd Frazier, Howie Kendrick, Neil Walker, and Jose Reyes are evidently still on the team’s radar, while other trade options are presumably still on the table. (Puma does suggest that free agent Mike Moustakas and trade candidate Starlin Castro are not seen as viable options.)
For the Indians, meanwhile, the latest indication is that the team will utilize Kipnis at his native position of second base after having bumped him to the outfield late last year. Presumably he could still be moved in the right deal, but the organization may also mostly be preparing to hang on and hope he can return to form. While Kipnis limped to a .232/.291/.414 batting line in an injury-limited 2017 season, he carried a composite .289/.357/.460 line over the prior two seasons and has typically graded as a quality defender.
The Indians have avoided arbitration with closer Cody Allen by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $10.575MM, as Tom Withers of the Associated Press was first to report (via Twitter). Allen, a client of Meister Sports Management, had a projected arbitration salary of $10.8MM, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.
Allen, 29, will take home a raise of more than $3MM over last season’s $7.35MM salary. The raise was well-deserved, as Allen turned in his fifth consecutive season with a sub-3.00 ERA out of the Cleveland bullpen. Since taking over as Cleveland’s closer in 2014, Allen has pitched to an outstanding 2.62 ERA with 12.1 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a total of 120 saves. Allen has averaged better than 70 appearances per season and 53 games finished per year in that time, and he’s been even better in the postseason, where he owns a minuscule 0.47 ERA with a ridiculous 33-to-8 K/BB ratio in 19 1/3 innings.
This past season, Allen worked to a 2.94 ERA and averaged 12.3 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and 1.2 HR/9 with a 33.5 percent grounder rate and a fastball that averaged 94.3 mph. This will be his final trip through the arbitration process, as Allen is poised to hit the open market for the first time following the 2018 season, adding to an impressive overall crop of free agents. He’ll join Craig Kimbrel, Andrew Miller, Zach Britton, Brad Brach and Kelvin Herrera on what should be a strong market for top-end relievers.
With Allen’s case now resolved, the Indians have four remaining cases, as can be seen in MLBTR’s 2018 Arbitration Tracker. Trevor Bauer, Lonnie Chisenhall, Danny Salazar and Zach McAllister are the Indians’ remaining arb-eligibles that have yet to agree to terms on a contract for the upcoming season.
There’s been plenty of speculation about what position Jason Kipnis will play next season (and what team he’ll be playing it for), but Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Indians plan to move him back to second base. The move will also push 2017 AL MVP finalist Jose Ramirez back to third base, where he earned an All-Star nod last season.
Kipnis battled injuries through most of last year and didn’t get much going offensively even when he was on the field, as evidenced by his .232/.291/.414 batting line and 82 wRC+. When Kip returned from a DL stint in mid-September (his third of the season), Ramirez’ fantastic defensive play had him firmly entrenched at Kipnis’ natural position. In order to get his bat in the lineup, the Indians deployed Kipnis in center field to replace Bradley Zimmer, who was out for the season with a hand injury.
With Zimmer projected to return to health well before spring training, and Ramirez offering a fantastic up-the-middle defensive combo with All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor, Kipnis seemed to be lacking a clear role on the team, such to the point that over 50% of MLBTR readers thought that the Tribe ought to trade him during the offseason. Trade rumors never gained much momentum, however. The Mets were weakly connected to Kipnis at one point, but there was always healthy amount of skepticism over whether the two teams could actually reach an agreement.
For the time being, it seems that the Indians will solve a seemingly complex issue with the simplest solution. After all, Kipnis is only a year removed from consecutive 5-WAR seasons. Notably, those seasons were a strong rebound from Kipnis’ last subpar campaign in 2014, so there’s plenty of reason to believe he’ll be able to bounce back again in his age 31 season. In any event, banking on better offensive production from Kipnis seems like a better option than relying on an offensive breakout from Yandy Diaz or Giovanny Urshela at third base, or hoping that top prospect Francisco Mejia can successfully shift to the hot corner with limited experience.
While we can’t rule anything out with certainty, this news seems to take Kipnis off the trading block. Teams looking for second base help must turn to trade market options such as Starlin Castro or Cesar Hernandez or else explore a thin free agent market at the position, which includes Neil Walker, Eduardo Nunez and Howie Kendrick. The news also increases the already-strong likelihood that Mejia will open the season in the minor leagues.