MLB Trade Rumors » » Cleveland Indians 2018-02-23T05:34:16Z Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Sign Carlos Torres To Minor League Deal]]> 2018-02-22T17:44:53Z 2018-02-22T17:30:55Z Feb. 22: Cleveland announced the signing this morning. Torres would earn $1.5MM upon making the big league roster, Cotillo adds. He can also earn another $800K via incentives.

Feb. 21: The Indians have agreed to a minors deal with righty Carlos Torres, according to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). The KVA Sports client will receive an invitation to MLB camp.

Torres, 35, will face a difficult task of cracking a Cleveland bullpen that has quite a few pieces in place and numerous competitors for whatever openings remain. Whatever starters miss on a rotation spot — Danny Salazar, Josh TomlinMike Clevinger, and Ryan Merritt are among those slated to do battle — could be considered in relief roles. And the slate of veteran non-roster hurlers is already fairly lengthy, including MLB veterans Alexi Ogando and Neil Ramirez.

That said, the Indians surely offered Torres a reasonable shot at winning a job in order to entice him. He has been a workhorse for some time now at the game’s highest level, making 139 appearances over the past two seasons alone. The Brewers nevertheless elected not to tender Torres a contract; he was projected to earn $3.3MM in his final season of arbitration eligibility.

Of course, Torres was not nearly as effective in 2017 as he was in the prior campaign — an 82 1/3 inning career year in which he ran up a 2.73 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. Last season, Torres dropped back to 72 2/3 innings of 4.21 ERA ball with just 6.9 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9, though he did show a career-high 93.4 mph average velocity with his cutter — even as that heavily-used offering waned in effectiveness.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Facing Decisions On Out-Of-Options Merritt, Gonzalez, Urshela]]> 2018-02-22T03:25:09Z 2018-02-22T03:25:09Z
  • The Indians will face decisions on a trio of out-of-options players this spring, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and southpaw Ryan Merritt figures to face the toughest path of them all. While Erik Gonzalez and Giovanny Urshela are both out of options as well, they’re vying for a presently vacant utility infield job; Merritt, on the other hand, is faced with a full rotation and a bullpen that, at best, has one open spot. While it’s certainly possible that an injury creates a more obvious spot for Merritt to break camp with the big league club, there’s also the possibility that he’s exposed to waivers or traded at some point, given the overall strength of the Indians’ pitching staff. The 26-year-old Merritt etched his place in Cleveland sports lore when he blanked the Blue Jays over 4 1/3 innings in a spot start during the 2016 ALCS, and he has a 1.71 ERA in 31 2/3 MLB innings in his career. But, he’s also struck out just 13 hitters in the Majors and averages just 87 mph on his fastball. Merritt has a career 3.48 ERA with 6.0 K/9 against 1.7 BB/9 in 289 1/3 Triple-A frames.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Indians Sign Rajai Davis]]> 2018-02-19T17:53:15Z 2018-02-19T17:53:18Z Feb. 19: Davis would earn $1.75MM upon making the big league roster and has an additional $3.25MM available to him via incentives, reports USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter links). Davis can ask for his release on March 22 if he hasn’t been added to the Major League roster by that time.

    Feb. 17, 1:32pm: The signing is official, Bastian tweets.

    12:15pm: The Indians are set to sign outfielder Rajai Davis to a minor league contract with a non-roster invitation to spring training, Jordan Bastian of reports. The deal is pending a physical (Twitter links). Davis is repped by the Legacy Agency.

    There’s already familiarity between Cleveland and the 37-year-old Davis, who was a member of the Indians during their American League-winning season in 2016. Davis authored one of the most memorable moments in World Series history that year when he hit a two-run, game-tying homer off then-Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman in the eighth inning of Game 7. Unfortunately for Davis and the Tribe, the Cubs went on to win the game.

    While Davis is known for that HR, the righty-swinger hasn’t been a major offensive threat during his career. The lifetime .264/.313/.384 hitter is coming off a year in which he batted a meager .235/.293/.348 across 366 plate appearances between Oakland and Boston. As has typically been the case, though, the speedster provided value on the base paths, with 29 steals (giving him 394 for his career) to go with solid reviews from FanGraphs’ BsR metric. Davis was less successful in the field, on the other hand, as he earned subpar marks in Defensive Runs Saved (minus-1) and Ultimate Zone Rating (minus-3.4) during a 117-game season divided among center field – his primary position – and the two corner spots.

    The Indians’ penciled-in starting outfield for 2017 consists of three left-handed hitters (center fielder Bradley Zimmer, left fielder Michael Brantley and right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall), and righty Brandon Guyer is recovering from October wrist surgery. Davis could earn a spot with the Tribe as a platoon option, then, especially given his solid career line against southpaws (.284/.340/.432). However, he’ll face competition from fellow minor league signing and right-hander Melvin Upton Jr., among others.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[AL Central Notes: Abreu, Kipnis, Moustakas, Cuthbert, Sano]]> 2018-02-19T05:45:08Z 2018-02-19T05:45:08Z White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu shed over ten pounds already this offseason, James Fegan of The Athletic writes. The weight loss comes thanks in part to a diet with a lot more fish and white meat. But aside from eating healthier, the Cuban native has another, more surprising goal: to steal more bases. Abreu said he’ll be asking for the green light from manager Rick Renteria more often. “Just because I think I can do it,” he added. “I really believe I can do it and I like the challenge. I like to challenge myself and I think that’s a good challenge for me and I’m ready for it.” Renteria laughed a bit at the idea, but he did say that if Abreu ends up being able to take a base, “that would be awesome.” However, the skipper suggested that he’s more concerned about making sure his first baseman can swing the bat and catch a ball first. A full read of the piece provides some insight not only into the plans of Abreu and Renteria headed into 2018, but into their personalities as well.

    More notes about American League’s midwestern teams…

    • Indians manager Terry Francona held his individual meetings with position players on Sunday morning, Jordan Bastian of reports. One of those meetings was with Jason Kipnis, who’s faced a lot of uncertainty this offseason as to what position he’ll play in 2018 and which team he’ll be playing it for. Kipnis apparently told Francona he’d do whatever he was told to do, but Francona felt it was better for the two to make the decision together. Because of who he is and what he’s accomplished, and what he can accomplish, I think it’s better if we do it together.” Francona said. “Asking somebody to do something they don’t think they can do isn’t going to help us.” It was reported earlier this offseason that the Tribe planned to move Kipnis back to second base, and Francona confirmed those intentions on Sunday by telling reporters that “he’s a second baseman… the idea is for him to play second.”
    • In line with reports from earlier today, it seems as though the Royals are prepared to move on from Mike MoustakasJeffrey Flannagan of shares some eye opening notes from an impromptu news conference with GM Dayton Moore this afternoon, including a quote about third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert. “We like [Cuthbert] a great deal,” Moore said. “We feel it’s his time to become a consistently producing player. We also have Hunter Dozier, who can play third and corner outfield, and first base — he has some versatility.” Moore also expressed a desire to build the club’s farm system back to what it was in 2010-2011, also noting that “That period of time [of high payrolls], that phase of who we are, is over.” All of these points cast extreme doubt on any chance of Moose coming back to Kansas City.
    • Twins slugger Miguel Sano appears healthy, as Rhett Bollinger of reports that he’s working out in the Dominican Republic and “doing all baseball activities.” He’ll reportedly be eased into games, however, and there’s one more unresolved item that could affect Sano’s ability to take the field: he has yet to be interviewed by MLB about his alleged sexual assault of a photographer. Sano has vehemently denied the accusations, and there’s been little in the way of public updates on the situation. Still, there could yet be ramifications depending on the findings from a potential interview or investigation.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Indians Notes: Salazar, C. Santana]]> 2018-02-17T20:56:46Z 2018-02-17T20:56:24Z
  • Before he joined the Phillies on a three-year, $60MM contract in November, longtime Indians first baseman Carlos Santana proposed a five-year, $75MM deal to Cleveland, the player told Anthony Castrovince of However, “the Tribe was never seriously engaged with him at all this winter,” Castrovince tweets. Shortly after Santana left the Indians, they added replacement Yonder Alonso on a much cheaper pact (two years, $16MM).
    • The Indians announced Friday that right-hander Danny Salazar “experienced an onset of right shoulder rotator cuff inflammation” last month during his offseason throwing program. The 28-year-old is “a couple weeks” behind the rest of the pitchers in Indians camp, per the announcement, though he has at least resumed throwing. It certainly doesn’t appear as if Salazar is presently dealing with a major injury, but the shoulder trouble isn’t entirely insignificant. Salazar missed roughly six weeks of the 2017 season due to shoulder troubles, and he has a history of right elbow issues as well. He’s also seen his name pop up in occasional trade speculation, most frequently being linked to the Brewers, though one would imagine that ongoing shoulder issues would temper some of the interest that other clubs may have in Salazar.There’s not yet any indication that Opening Day would be in jeopardy for Salazar, whom the Indians have penciled into a rotation spot alongside Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer. Josh Tomlin and Mike Clevinger are both on hand as options for the fifth spot. Injuries limited Salazar to just 103 innings last season, during which time he posted a 4.28 ERA with a gaudy 12.7 K/9 mark against 3.8 BB/9.
    • Before he joined the Phillies on a three-year, $60MM contract in November, longtime Indians first baseman Carlos Santana proposed a five-year, $75MM deal to Cleveland, the player told Anthony Castrovince of However, “the Tribe was never seriously engaged with him at all this winter,” Castrovince tweets. Shortly after Santana left the Indians, they added replacement Yonder Alonso on a much cheaper pact (two years, $16MM).
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Trevor Bauer Wins Arbitration Hearing]]> 2018-02-15T20:14:13Z 2018-02-15T19:47:24Z Right-hander Trevor Bauer has won his arbitration hearing against the Indians, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports (via Twitter). Bauer’s arb case featured one of the most significant gaps between the player’s submitted salary and the team’s figure (as seen in the MLBTR Arbitraiton Tracker), and he’ll now be paid at $6.525MM instead of $5.3MM thanks to the win. Bauer is represented by Wasserman.

    Bauer, who recently turned 27, receives nearly a $3MM raise on last year’s $3.55MM salary with today’s ruling. The right-hander closed out the season with a 4.19 ERA, 10.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 46.4 percent ground-ball rate through 176 1/3 regular-season innings. He went on to make one dominant postseason appearance against the Yankees before being clubbed for four runs in 1 2/3 innings in Game 4 of the ALDS.

    Bauer’s bottom-line run prevention numbers might not look especially impressive, but they’re marred by a dreadful start to the season. The former No. 3 overall pick was sporting an ERA north of 7.00 through his first six trips to the hill, but he turned in a strong 3.45 ERA through 143 1/3 innings to close out the regular season — including a pristine 2.42 ERA and 85-to-19 K/BB ratio in his final 13 appearances.

    Bauer will join Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar in the Cleveland rotation this season, with Josh Tomlin and Mike Clevinger both vying for the final spot in the starting five. Bauer, a Super Two player, has now gone through the arbitration process twice and will be eligible twice more before qualifying as a free agent following the completion of the 2020 season.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians, Ryan Hanigan Agree To Minor League Deal]]> 2018-02-12T14:40:13Z 2018-02-12T14:39:24Z The Indians are in agreement with veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan on a minor league contract, reports USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter links). The O’Connell Sports Management client will earn a $1.25MM base salary if he’s able to crack the Major League roster.

    Hanigan, 37, spent the 2017 season in the Rockies organization, logging 33 games in the Majors and another 17 in Triple-A. He hit .267/.324/.347 with a pair of homers through 112 plate appearances in the Majors last year — numbers that are fairly representative of his overall skill set despite the small sample size. Hanigan has long displayed solid on-base skills, especially for a catcher, as evidenced by a career .344 on-base percentage and 11.2 percent walk rate. That walk rate has trended downward in recent seasons as his strikeout rate has risen correspondingly, however, and he’s never displayed much in the way of power.

    The veteran Hanigan will give Cleveland a depth option, though he’s a ways down the depth chart. Both Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez are under guaranteed contracts after signing long-term deals with Cleveland in recent years, and the Indians also have one of the game’s top catching prospects, Francisco Mejia, looming in the upper minors.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Michael Brantley]]> 2018-02-11T14:47:30Z 2018-02-11T14:47:30Z
  • Aside from keeping Brantley and signing Yonder Alonso, the Indians haven’t spent much this winter. Regarding the Tribe’s quiet offseason, one team’s vice president told ESPN’s Buster Olney, “They’re not spending, and that probably means they feel like they’re overextended [financially].” Even though the Indians have been among baseball’s elite in recent years, drawing fans to Progressive Field has still been a challenge. Thanks in part to that, Olney posits that small-market Cleveland may have difficulty maintaining its relatively high payroll going forward, which could soon force the team to engage in a sell-off similar to the one Pittsburgh has orchestrated this winter. The Indians will probably lose top relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen to free agency next offseason, observes Olney, who writes that rising prices for their under-control core players could make it tough for them to adequately address other areas of their roster.
    • Indians outfielder Michael Brantley’s status for Opening Day is up in the air, Paul Hoynes of suggests on Twitter. Brantley underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle in October, which came on the heels of a 90-game season for the 30-year-old. It was the second straight abbreviated campaign for Brantley, who missed all but 11 games in 2016 on account of right shoulder issues. To Brantley’s credit, he fared respectably across 375 plate appearances last year (.299/.357/.444), leading the Indians to exercise his $12MM option for 2018 early in the offseason.
    • Aside from keeping Brantley and signing Yonder Alonso, the Indians haven’t spent much this winter. Regarding the Tribe’s quiet offseason, one team’s vice president told ESPN’s Buster Olney, “They’re not spending, and that probably means they feel like they’re overextended [financially].” Even though the Indians have been among baseball’s elite in recent years, drawing fans to Progressive Field has still been a challenge. Thanks in part to that, Olney posits that small-market Cleveland may have difficulty maintaining its relatively high payroll going forward, which could soon force the team to engage in a sell-off similar to the one Pittsburgh has orchestrated this winter. The Indians will probably lose top relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen to free agency next offseason, observes Olney, who writes that rising prices for their under-control core players could make it tough for them to adequately address other areas of their roster.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Trevor Bauer Had Arbitration Hearing Thursday]]> 2018-02-11T05:09:03Z 2018-02-11T05:09:03Z
  • Indians righty Trevor Bauer had his own arbitration hearing this past Thursday, per Paul Hoynes of Results should come out this weekend, Hoynes hears. Bauer, who’s in his second of four possible arb years, filed for $6.52MM – a healthy amount more than the $5.3MM the team offered.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians To Sign Stephen Fife]]> 2018-02-09T02:45:51Z 2018-02-09T02:45:48Z
  • Righty Stephen Fife is heading back stateside after signing on with the Indians, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). The 31-year-old, a third-round pick in 2008, hasn’t seen the majors since 2014 but does own a 3.66 ERA in 91 career frames. Fife made five starts last year for Japan’s Seibu Lions, but struggled to a 6.86 ERA with 11 strikeouts and 13 walks in just 21 frames. He’ll be looking to get back on track with the Cleveland organization, though he’ll certainly face very long odds to crack the roster out of camp.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Discussed Encarnacion With Red Sox]]> 2018-02-07T21:18:19Z 2018-02-07T19:08:32Z
  • Notably, too, the Red Sox are perhaps still aware of other means of fulfilling their desire for right-handed power. Nightengale says the organization spoke with the Indians earlier in the offseason about a potential deal that would have brought Edwin Encarnacion to Boston. Whether or not there’s any plausible hope of reviving those discussions isn’t clear, though, and the Sox are said not to have been willing to send Jackie Bradley Jr. to Cleveland. Clearly, that’s no surprise, as Bradley is a much younger and more affordable player who still offers plenty of value to the Sox. Indeed, it’s amply arguable that Bradley is a more valuable overall performer than is Encarnacion.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Michael Martinez Out Six Months Due To Ruptured Achilles]]> 2018-02-01T05:24:28Z 2018-02-01T05:02:24Z The Indians announced today that non-roster invitee Michael Martinez suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon during his offseason workout (specifically, agility exercises), which required surgical repair and will sideline the veteran utilityman for the next six months. The 35-year-old Martinez was a long shot to make the big league roster out of Spring Training, but he’s found his way onto Cleveland’s Major League roster in each of the past three seasons, helping to fill in for various injuries. He’s batted .257/.289/.331 over the life of 145 plate appearances with Cleveland. That six-month timeline will put Martinez on track for an August return, so it’s still possible that he could at least return to the club’s Triple-A team late in the season.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Mike Clevinger Aiming For 200-Inning Season]]> 2018-01-31T04:33:57Z 2018-01-31T04:33:57Z
  • After breaking out in 114 innings as a starter last year, when he pitched to a 2.84 ERA and recorded 9.99 K/9 against 4.23 BB/9, Indians righty Mike Clevinger has bigger plans for 2018. “I’m not even thinking about the bullpen. I want to throw 200 innings,” Clevinger told Jordan Bastian of Despite his excellent production in 2017, Clevinger isn’t guaranteed a starting spot heading into the spring, as Bastian notes. Rather, he’ll compete with Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin and Ryan Merritt to join rotation locks Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer. Should Clevinger, 27, win a place in the Tribe’s rotation and achieve his 200-inning goal, he’d accomplish a feat that’s pretty rare nowadays. In each of the previous two campaigns, only 15 pitchers racked up at least 200 frames. Kluber did it in both seasons (as well as in 2014 and ’15), and Carrasco was also part of the group last year.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Freeman, LeVangie, NPB/KBO, Aces]]> 2018-01-29T04:01:31Z 2018-01-29T04:01:31Z Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman feels great about the strength of his left wrist; strength he believes he lacked at the end of last season. Mark Bowman of wrote a detailed article that includes plenty of confident words from Freeman, who told reporters he began hitting earlier than he usually does, and even took batting practice in 25-degree whether just to see if he experienced any pain. “I have had zero problems.” Freeman said. “Everything feels great and everything feels strong.” Though he doesn’t regret coming back early after being hit by a pitch in May, Freeman experienced some frustration when his wrist fatigued during August and September. Notably, the two-time All-Star also had Lasik surgery to help alleviate some eye irritation issues he experienced while wearing contact lenses. Freeman also expressed his excitement to see top prospect Ronald Acuna arrive at the MLB level.

    Some other interesting items from around MLB as we near the end of January…

    • Count Rick Porcello among those in the Red Sox organization who are excited about working with new pitching coach Dana LeVangie. A piece by Tim Britton of the Providence Journal gives some insight into a phone call between the two earlier in the offseason. “A couple of days after he got the pitching coach job, he called me and we talked for an hour on things he had mapped out for me coming into the season that I need to work on and get better with,” Porcello told reporters last week. Indeed, it seems as though relievers Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel have already had a great experience working with him during his time as the team’s bullpen coach.  As for LeVangie, he says his time as the Red Sox’ bullpen catcher allowed him to get a feel for movement and spin rate of pitches, as well as identify specifics of a pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses.
    • The pursuit of financial security causes a handful of players to give up MLB 40-man roster spots every year in order to pursue opportunities in the NPB and the KBO, writes Kyle Glaser of Baseball America. Glaser tells the short version of Seth Frankoff’s story, though he’s just one of more than 100 ex-major or minor leaguers who played in Asian baseball leagues in 2017. While minor-league players on a 40-man roster earn just over $40K per year, players can make nearly 20 times that amount playing overseas. Other benefits of playing in the NPB and KBO include luxury apartments for foreign players, exceedingly high energy levels from people in the crowd, and a potential path back to the majors if they can improve their skill sets.
    • Zach Crizer of lists right-handers Danny Salazar (Indians) and Jake Odorizzi (Rays), and left-hander Ariel Miranda (Mariners) as pitchers with the potential to reach “ace” status in 2018. Crizer uses some incredibly specific stats to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of these three pitchers, showing a potential path to a breakout for each one. The piece includes videos and heat maps as well; it’s an intriguing read, particularly considering that Salazar and Odorizzi have been mentioned in trade rumors.
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Rosenthal’s Latest: Mets, Domingo, Nationals, Kipnis]]> 2018-01-29T01:49:27Z 2018-01-29T01:49:27Z Here are some of the latest hot stove whisperings overheard by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, detailed in his latest column (insider subscription required and highly recommended)…

    • The Mets are “weighing” four players as potential solutions to their need at second and/or third base. They’re interested in free agents Eduardo Nunez, Todd Frazier and former Met Neil Walker, while also exploring the possibility of adding Josh Harrison via trade. The latter would require the Amazins to fork over young outfielder Brandon Nimmo, according to Rosenthal’s sources. Of course, the team has all of Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto under control for at least the next three seasons, and Rosenthal posits that they shouldn’t cling too tightly to a fourth outfielder if trading him could help improve their chances in 2018. Furthermore, pivoting to Walker could “spark justifiable criticism” that the Mets are reassembling a losing team; they’ve already re-signed Jose Reyes and Bruce.
    • Trade speculation surrounding Brewers outfielder Domingo Santana has spiked ever since the team acquired Christian Yelich and signed Lorenzo Cain just minutes later. But although he slugged 30 homers last season and is just 25 years of age, his trade value may not be as high as one might think. Rosenthal quotes rival executives saying that Santana is “a bad defender” and “not a winning player.” Those comments come off a bit extreme, but it’s worth noting that he struck out in nearly 30% of his plate appearances last season while being worth -5 Defensive Runs Saved in the outfield.
    • While it’s been oft-reported that Nationals GM Mike Rizzo isn’t willing to part with top prospect Victor Robles in a trade, Rosenthal suggests that the club could be willing to give up Michael Taylor if his involvement in a deal would help the club net Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. On the other hand, some officials in the organization aren’t keen on giving up a player who’s a fairly safe option in the outfield while Adam Eaton is coming off a significant surgery and Bryce Harper is set to become a free agent next winter.
    • The Yankees reportedly showed some interest in Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis at some point this offseason. However, that interest has apparently cooled of late. While his contribution towards the luxury tax threshold isn’t significant ($8.75MM per season), his actual remaining salary ($30.5MM guaranteed over two years) might be considered somewhat of a risk for a bounce-back candidate; one rival executive says he’s worth a shot, but not at that price. The 30-year-old Kipnis spent significant time on the DL last season with shoulder and hamstring injuries, and hit just .232/.291/.414 last season when healthy.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Brewers Have Shown Interest In Danny Salazar]]> 2018-01-28T01:11:01Z 2018-01-28T01:10:31Z
  • The Brewers are loaded in the outfield in the wake of this week’s Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich acquisitions, and the club could mitigate the logjam by dealing one of its top trade chips, Domingo Santana. Doing so would presumably allow the Brewers to address their shaky rotation. With that in mind, the Brewers and starter-rich Indians seem like logical trade partners, Paul Hoynes of observes. A deal centering on Santana and Indians righty Danny Salazar would make sense for both clubs, Hoynes opines, and Anthony Castrovince of tweets that Milwaukee has shown interest in Salazar this offseason. The hard-throwing Salazar brings the more impressive big league track record of the two players, though age (25 to 28), team control (four years to three) and 2017 performance are all on Santana’s side.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On The Indians' Interest In Lorenzo Cain]]> 2018-01-27T15:44:39Z 2018-01-27T15:43:58Z The Indians felt they had a shot at signing Lorenzo Cain to a three-year deal, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes, though they still would have needed to trade another notable contract off the roster to accommodate a Cain signing.  Management felt a pursuit of Cain was a risk worth taking, as the Tribe is very familiar with the center fielder’s abilities from his years as a division rival.  Cleveland was able to land Edwin Encarnacion on a smaller-than-expected three-year deal last winter due to a slow market, though while Cain’s market also took a while to develop, he still had multiple four-year offers on the table (and eventually landed five years from the Brewers).  It isn’t clear if the Tribe is still looking to make a notable outfield addition if they can clear payroll, or if the team was only willing to make such a big splash for Cain specifically.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Sign Preston Claiborne To Minor League Deal]]> 2018-01-27T03:48:29Z 2018-01-27T03:45:15Z
  • The Cubs have elected to bring left-hander Michael Roth to the organization on a minor-league deal, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports (Twitter link). Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports tweets that Roth will be paid a $560K salary if he’s able to crack their big-league roster. The former ninth-round pick is entering his age-28 season; he’s made 22 total MLB appearances out of the bullpen for the Rangers and Angels, along with a single start for the latter. He owns a career ERA of 8.50, though run-prevention estimators such as xFIP (4.46) and SIERA (4.04) suggest his actual skill set isn’t quite in line with those disastrous results. Roth has also spent time at the Triple-A affiliates of the Rays, Giants and Indians.
  • The Indians announced that they’ve signed right-hander Preston Claiborne to a minor league deal and invited him to Spring Training. The 30-year-old Claiborne tossed two innings for the Rangers in 2017 and has a total of 73 1/3 innings of Major League work under his belt — all but last year’s two innings coming with the Yankees in 2013-14. The former 17th-round pick has a career 4.05 ERA with 7.4 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 42.7 percent ground-ball rate. Claiborne owns a lifetime 3.09 ERA in 102 Triple-A innings, including a stellar 1.89 mark in 38 innings ith the Rangers’ affiliate last season.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Set For Hearing With Trevor Bauer]]> 2018-01-24T16:18:32Z 2018-01-24T14:22:14Z
  • The Indians are readying for an arbitration hearing with righty Trevor Bauer, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes. Cleveland is utilizing a file-and-trial approach, says Hoynes, meaning a panel will decide whether the righty plays for $5.3MM or $6.52MM in the coming season. The results won’t just determine whether Bauer can pick up an additional $1.22MM for the coming season; his 2018 salary will also set a base rate for raises in his final two seasons of arb eligibility. As always, you can keep track of all the arbitration developments with MLBTR’s 2018 Arbitration Tracker.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 1/23/18]]> 2018-01-23T20:27:35Z 2018-01-23T18:59:02Z We’ll track the day’s minor moves in this post:

    • Outfielder Jacob May was outrighted by the White Sox after clearing waivers, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports. Likewise, Angels lefty Nate Smith is headed for Triple-A via outright. Both were designated for assignment recently.
    • Infielder Ty Kelly is returning to the Mets, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). The 29-year-old first reached the bigs in New York and also spent time in the majors last year with the Phillies. He has hit well at times in the upper minors but has yet to translate that to the majors in limited opportunities.
    • The Tigers have purchased the contract of lefty Caleb Thielbar from the St. Paul Saints, per an announcement from the indy ball club. Soon to turn 31, Thielbar hasn’t seen the majors since 2015. In 98 2/3 total innings at the game’s highest level, though, he has pitched to a 2.74 ERA with 7.2 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9. He was released by the Marlins just before the start of the 2017 season after competing for a job in camp.
    • Righty Carlos Frias is re-joining the Indians on a minors pact, the club announced. The 28-year-old, who has not seen substantial MLB time since 2015, stumbled to an 8.05 ERA with an ugly 21:22 K/BB ratio at Triple-A last year with the Cleveland organization.
    • The Angels have re-signed lefty John Lamb, Cotillo tweets. Once a well-regarded prospect, the 27-year-old saw his career derailed by back issues. He did throw 139 innings at Triple-A last year with the Halos organization, though he managed only a 5.44 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9.
    • Reliever Bryan Harper has re-joined the Nationals on a minor-league deal with a spring invite, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports on Twitter. Bryce’s older brother has never been seen as a major asset, but he’s an accomplished minor-league reliever. He missed all of 2017 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but has allowed less than three earned runs per nine in over a hundred frames in the upper minors.
    • Outfielder Matt Lipka is joining the Giants organization on a minor-league deal, Cotillo also tweets. A first-round pick in the 2010 draft, Lipka has not yet shown that he can hand the bat in the upper minors. He posted a .754 OPS in 370 plate appearances last year at the High-A level, but limped to a .160/.216/.223 slash over his 102 trips to the plate at Double-A.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Jason Kipnis' 2018 Position]]> 2018-01-21T05:37:53Z 2018-01-21T05:37:53Z
  • 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 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.
  • ]]>
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 1/20/18]]> 2018-01-20T19:23:25Z 2018-01-20T17:42:42Z 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.
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Indians Notes: Machado, Miller, Yelich]]> 2018-01-20T16:47:51Z 2018-01-20T16:47:51Z The Indians and Orioles were in contact last month about a trade that could have sent Manny Machado to Cleveland, Jon Morosi of 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.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Unresolved 2018 Arbitration Cases]]> 2018-01-13T03:05:53Z 2018-01-13T00:02:01Z 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.)

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: American League]]> 2018-01-13T05:52:28Z 2018-01-12T21:00:23Z 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,’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,’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,’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.’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’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’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’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),’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.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians, Zach McAllister Avoid Arbitration]]> 2018-01-12T05:20:00Z 2018-01-12T05:12:47Z
  • 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.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Still Seeking Bullpen Help, Right-Handed Bat]]> 2018-01-12T05:17:47Z 2018-01-12T05:02:52Z
  • 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.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mets “Nearly” Struck Trade With Indians For Jason Kipnis]]> 2018-01-11T15:53:19Z 2018-01-11T15:53:19Z 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.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians, Cody Allen Avoid Arbitration]]> 2018-01-11T02:56:20Z 2018-01-11T02:56:20Z 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.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Indians Will Reportedly Move Jason Kipnis Back To Second Base]]> 2018-01-06T22:16:34Z 2018-01-06T20:20:48Z 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.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Open To Trading Danny Salazar]]> 2018-01-05T01:42:26Z 2018-01-04T23:43:01Z
  • The Indians are “open” to moving right-hander Danny Salazar, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic in his latest notes column (subscription required and strongly recommended). Salazar, 28 next week, has missed time in each of the past two seasons owing to shoulder and elbow injuries. When healthy, the flamethrowing righty has shown the ability to overpower hitters, as evidenced by a career 10.5 K/9 mark and 12.6 percent swinging-strike rate. Salazar, who has two years of club control remaining, comes with a projected arbitration salary of $5.2MM for the 2018 campaign (via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz) and would be arb-eligible once more next winter. Cleveland doesn’t sound to be shopping him by any means, but the Tribe does have some enviable pitching depth and could stomach the loss if a Salazar trade helped the MLB roster in other ways.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Sign Robert Zarate To Minors Deal]]> 2018-01-04T19:46:34Z 2018-01-04T19:46:34Z
  • The Indians announced on Thursday that they’ve signed left-hander Robert Zarate to a minor league deal and invited him to Major League Spring Training. Zarate, 31 next month, didn’t pitch in 2016 or 2017 due to a spring elbow injury in ’16 that ultimately required Tommy John surgery. Zarate has had a unique career, spending more time pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League than he has with MLB affiliates in his big league career. His 2015 campaign produced a 2.90 ERA with a 49-to-15 K/BB ratio and a 52.1 percent ground-ball rate in 40 1/3 with the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate, however. Zarate has never reached the big league level in his career.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Likely Will Not Pursue Significant Free Agents]]> 2017-12-30T06:31:51Z 2017-12-30T06:10:04Z
  • While the Indians have pushed their payroll upwards in recent years, Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon-Journal writes that the period of growth seems to be at an end. Despite attempting to re-sign Carlos Santana, it seems unlikely the organization will pursue any further major free agents after landing Yonder Alonso on a fairly modest two-year deal. Cleveland’s front office is obviously still looking to improve in the near-term, but sustainability is a key consideration as well.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tribe Faces Difficulties In Extending Allen, Miller]]> 2017-12-29T04:39:44Z 2017-12-29T04:39:44Z
  • The Indians will face a tall order in trying to extend Cody Allen or Andrew Miller before either reliever hits free agency next winter,’s Jordan Bastian writes as part of a reader mailbag.  Allen is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility, while Miller is finishing up the four-year, $36MM deal he originally signed with the Yankees in December 2014.  Given the large contracts that relievers have been landing this offseason, a smaller-payroll team like Cleveland doesn’t seem like a candidate to re-sign either pitcher, nor to spend the big money it would take to get Allen or Miller to forego the open market and ink an extension.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Hoynes On Lindor Extension Possibilities, Merritt's Future]]> 2017-12-27T14:51:57Z 2017-12-27T14:51:28Z
  • In his latest inbox column, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tackles a number of roster-focused questions pertaining to the Indians. Asked about the possibility of another run at extending Francisco Lindor, Hoynes suggests that over the course of Lindor’s remaining four years of control, the Indians will almost certainly make multiple attempts to extend their control over the young superstar. However, the fact that Lindor already rejected a nine-figure extension offer from Cleveland so early in his career could indicate that he’s likelier to test free agency when he is eligible. Hoynes also notes that left-hander and 2016 postseason hero Ryan Merritt will head to Spring Training out of minor league options and without a clear spot in the rotation. That could make Merritt available in trade (either this winter or in Spring Training) or point to a bullpen role — at least in 2018.
  • ]]>
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Indians Notes: Santana, Spending, Alonso, Kipnis]]> 2017-12-23T18:33:39Z 2017-12-23T18:33:39Z Indians GM Chris Antonetti told reporters today that the club was in on Carlos Santana until the very end (hat tip to Jordan Bastian of It seemed that Santana’s reps kept the Tribe informed through the entirety of Santana’s free agency, but in the end, things just didn’t work out for Cleveland. This news comes as another sign that Santana wanted to remain with the Indians if possible; the first baseman also wrote an emotional goodbye letter to Tribe fans in which he stated, “I cried once it sunk in that I would no longer be suiting up for and living in the City of Cleveland.” Ultimately, he signed a three-year, $60MM contract with the Phillies. Santana came to Cleveland in the Casey Blake trade prior to the 2008 trade deadline. Though the Dominican Republic native came up as a catcher through the minors, his most recent years have been spent as a first baseman. He hit .249/.365/.449 during his time with the Indians, and provided them with 23 fWAR. The club will now hope that new signee Yonder Alonso can replace his fantastic patience in their lineup.

    More from the Indians’ camp on the day the Alonso signing was announced…

    • Bastian also tweeted some words from Antonetti about the club’s spending plans for the remainder of the offseason. It seems as though the Alonso signing may be the Tribe’s most significant of the winter, though they’ll reportedly continue to explore their options. “We’ll continue to be active,” the Indians GM told reporters. “We had a certain amount of flexibility heading into the offseason that we had to use judicially, and this will represent the vast bulk of that flexibility. The cost of retaining the nucleus of our team is more expensive.” Indeed, the Indians have a number of expensive arbitration-eligible players. MLBTR projects that Trevor Bauer, Lonnie Chisenhall, Danny Salazar and Cody Allen alone will cost the club nearly $30MM, and there are still smaller salaries to account for within their arb-eligible group.
    • Antonetti isn’t worried about Alonso’s ability to sustain a high level of production, Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal tweets. The Indians GM cites his control of the strike zone and escalating average exit velocity across the past three seasons as evidence of a “purposeful adjustment”. It’s worth noting that there’s a healthy amount of skepticism in the industry over whether the former top prospect’s .266/.365/.501 season was a true breakout or a career year. As Evan Davis of FanRag Sports writes in a detailed piece, there’s reason to believe certain adjustments could yield sustainable results over the long-term, including a 9.1-degree spike in average launch angle that led to a .385 xwOBA in the season’s first half. However, Davis also points out that his second half was far more pedestrian; Alonso’s xwOBA and wRC+ both plummeted to levels more indicative of his previous self.
    • One of the remaining items on Antonetti’s docket is to speak with Jason Kipnis about a position plan, Bastian says in yet another tweet. Antonetti told reporters that it’s possible Kipnis could be a contingency plan for Michael Brantley in left field if the two-time All-Star isn’t ready for Opening Day. As Anthony DiComo of notes, Antonetti’s words make it seem all the more likely that Kipnis will open the 2018 season in an Indians uniform.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Sign Yonder Alonso]]> 2017-12-23T17:13:33Z 2017-12-23T16:32:05Z Dec. 23, 10:32am: Jordan Bastian of provides some additional details on Alonso’s 2020 option. It’s reportedly a $9MM vesting option that vests following a successful physical after 2019, on the added condition that he makes 550 trips to the plate during the 2019 season, or accumulates 1,100 PA combined across the 2018-2019 campaigns. In line with previous reports, the option becomes a $9MM club option with a $1MM buyout if the vesting criteria aren’t met.

    9:32am: The Indians have officially announced the signing.

    Dec. 21:’s Mark Feinsand tweets that Alonso will earn $7MM in 2018 and $8MM in 2019. The vesting/club option comes with a $1MM buyout.

    Dec. 20, 8:55pm: It’s a two-year deal that comes with a $16MM guarantee, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter link). There’s also an $8MM vesting option for a third season.

    8:38pm: The Indians have agreed to a deal with free-agent first baseman Yonder Alonso, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports (via Twitter). Alonso is a client of MVP Sports.

    Yonder Alonso | Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    Alonso, 31 in April, will step into the void that was created when longtime Indians first baseman Carlos Santana signed a three-year, $60MM contract with the Phillies. The former first-round pick and top prospect just wrapped up a career year in which he slashed .266/.365/.501 with a personal-best 28 home runs — shattering his previous highwater mark of nine long balls in a season. That quality season landed him 22nd on MLBTR’s list of the top 50 free agents, with a prediction of a two-year, $22MM contract.

    Alonso was, for much of the 2017 season, the poster boy for the “fly-ball revolution,” as he made a concerted effort to lift the ball and experienced great success with that newfound approach in the season’s first half. Through 298 plate appearances prior to the All-Star break, Alonso sported a 48.7 percent fly-ball rate and batted a hefty .275/.372/.562 despite playing his home games in Oakland’s cavernous Coliseum. Alonso’s fly-ball rate fell to 36.1 percent in a second half that was far more pedestrian, though his post-break output of .254/.354/.420 was still generally solid.

    Overall, Alonso’s average exit velocity (89.2 mph) was comfortably among the top quarter of hitters in the league (min. 100 batted ball events), and his 36 percent hard-contact rate ranked 47th among 144 qualified MLB hitters. That uptick in power for Alonso came at the cost of his previously excellent contact skills, as he whiffed in a career-worst 22.6 percent of his plate appearances this past season (though that mark comes in barely north of the league average 21.2 percent for non-pitchers). Even if there’s some regression in terms of his power, Alonso has long shown a penchant for getting on base, with a career walk rate just under 10 percent — including a strong 13.1 percent walk rate in 2017.

    Of course, while Alonso enjoyed a terrific overall year at the plate in ’17, he’s not without his warts. His strong offensive production was in some part due to the fact that both the A’s and Mariners shielded him from facing left-handed pitching; Alonso absolutely clobbered righties (.283/.384/.519) but struggled to hit for average and get on base against fellow lefties, as evidenced by a .181/.263/.417 slash in just 72 plate appearances. In his career as a whole, Alonso has batted just .234/.303/.349 against same-handed opponents.

    [Related: Updated Cleveland Indians depth chart]

    On the plus side for Cleveland, they have a ready-made platoon partner in the form of Edwin Encarnacion. While Encarnacion will obviously be in the lineup on a regular basis as the team’s DH, he can also shift to first base on days when the Indians face a left-handed starter, should skipper Terry Francona ultimately decide to keep Alonso out of the lineup for those matchups. That’d free the DH slot to keep other regulars fresh, or it could allow the Indians to sign a right-handed-hitting outfielder/first baseman to occupy a reserve role on the bench.

    Cleveland currently has righty bats Brandon Guyer, Erik Gonzalez and Giovanny Urshela ticketed for bench spots, though president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti, GM Mike Chernoff and the rest of the staff may yet look to augment the team’s stock of reserve options.

    As far as his defense is concerned, Alonso doesn’t stack up to the stellar work that Santana provided in 2017. Alonso rated as an above-average defender at first base per both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating each season of his career up until the 2016 campaign. Both metrics pegged him slightly below average in ’16, and while UZR had him only slightly below average again in 2017 (-2.8), DRS graded him out at -9.

    Alonso becomes the fourth first baseman to come off the board in the past week — the latest domino in a market for position players that is slowly beginning to pick up after a largely stagnant offseason. Beyond the agreements for Alonso and Santana, the Red Sox announced yesterday that they’ve re-signed Mitch Moreland on a two-year deal, while the Nationals earlier today reportedly agreed to terms on a one-year deal with Matt Adams. With that group now off the board, Eric Hosmer, Logan Morrison and Lucas Duda are the most notable names remaining on the free-agent market for first basemen.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[AL Notes: Gordon, Segura, Twins, Roberto Perez]]> 2017-12-23T16:18:44Z 2017-12-23T16:15:11Z New Mariners center fielder Dee Gordon doesn’t like what’s happening in Miami, Tim Healey of the Sun Sentinel reports. While his words don’t stir up controversy quite to the level of Giancarlo Stanton’s upon the slugger’s own exit from Miami, Gordon was very candid with his feelings about the direction of the Marlins’ franchise. “It’s terrible,” Gordon said, via Healey. “It’s almost — I’m not even going to say almost. It’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing. I don’t want to bash anyone, but what’s happened is not good.” The former Marlins second baseman expressed a distaste for the franchise’s trades of Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and himself, accusing the team of getting rid of them because of payroll obligations the Marlins’ new ownership “can’t take care of.” When asked what he thinks the club should do with Christian Yelich, Gordon said, “I think you have to let the dude go win.” Under new ownership, or course, the Marlins have expressed a desire to change the way the team operates financially in order to create sustainable success for the long-term. While the strategy has been met with skepticism by many (including colorful agent Scott Boras), others side with Derek Jeter and co., believing that the new owners aren’t morally obligated to remain bound to the financial decisions of the old regime.

    More from around baseball’s American League during the holiday season…

    • In other Mariners news, shortstop Jean Segura says he was assaulted and robbed at gunpoint by corrupt police in the Dominican Republic. Mark Townsend of Yahoo Sports delves into the details of incident, which Segura made public via a post on his Instagram account. The photo of the post appears to show a number of DICAN officers, one of whom is “visibly armed,” in Townsend’s words. The Dominican Republic National Police have since announced the appointment of a commission to investigate the incident. Segura followed up a breakout 5-WAR 2016 campaign with the Diamondbacks by hitting .300/.349/.427 across 566 plate appearances in 2017.
    • The Twins “hope to get a meeting soon with Darvish,” Darren Wolfson of KSTP reports in a tweet. While the prospect of a meeting certainly doesn’t imply a serious pursuit of the former Rangers ace (indeed, Wolfson adds that there’s no indication the club has made a formal offer), a potential pursuit of Darvish by Minnesota is intriguing. Any contract large enough to lure him in would need to nearly triple the club’s highest-ever guarantee given to a pitcher ($55MM to Ervin Santana). However, it’s no secret that the Twins are in dire need of pitching if they plan to compete this offseason, and as MLBTR’s Steve Adams notes, the club is definitely in a position to spend this offseason.
    • Roberto Perez, backup catcher for the Indians, is focused on getting his mother a new home. A story by Jordan Bastian of details Perez’ desire to sit down with his mom Lilliam Martinez this holiday season and discuss plans to build a new house to replace the one that was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria. Bastian’s piece provides some insight into the emotions of Perez since the storm hit; the piece is well worth a read for fans looking to learn more about how Puerto Rico has been affected since landfall by the Class 5 storm. The 29-year-old Perez made his MLB debut with the Indians back in 2014. He signed a four-year, $9MM extension last spring following three excellent defensive seasons with the Tribe.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 12/21/17]]> 2017-12-21T17:58:26Z 2017-12-21T17:50:40Z We’ll cover the day’s minor moves in this post:

    • The Cubs have re-signed catcher Taylor Davis, MLBTR has learned. The 28-year-old was non-tendered after a season in which he received his first MLB call-up, staying long enough to pick up his first few base knocks but not to put down a meaningful track record. Davis strode to the Triple-A plate 406 times in 2017, producing a .297/.357/.429 batting line with six home runs. Notably, he continued to exhibit strong plate discipline and contact ability, striking out just 45 times while drawing 37 walks.

    Earlier Updates

    • Indians have agreed to a deal with right-hander Lisalverto Bonilla, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). The 27-year-old struggled badly in his ten MLB appearances last year with the Reds, working to a 8.10 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 5.4 BB/9 while serving up eight long balls in 36 2/3 innings. He did generate a useful 11.8% swinging-strike rate, though, and has typically drawn a fair number of grounders in the minors.
    • The Nationals reached a minor-league pact with righty Chris Smith, MLBTR’s Steve Adams tweets. He gets an invitation to participate on the majors side of camp next spring. Smith, 29, got a brief taste of the majors last year with the Blue Jays, showing a 93.9 mph average four-seamer. He spent most of the year at Triple-A, where he worked to a 5.40 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9, but Smith has recorded much higher strikeout rates in the upper minors in the past.
    • Lefty Hunter Cervenka was outrighted to Triple-A by the Marlins after clearing waivers. He had been removed from the 40-man roster recently as the organization continues to tweak its mix of MLB assets. Cervenka spent most of 2017 at the Triple-A level, where he pitched to a 4.58 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 5.9 BB/9. That hefty walk rate has long been a problem for Cervenka, who’ll soon turn 28.
    • The Tigers announced a series of minors signings today. Lefty Will Lamb, infielder Ronny Rodriguez, and outfielders Jason Krizan and Kenny Wilson are all joining the Detroit organization, with Krizan and Rodriguez also taking spring invites. Lamb, 27, has struggled to a 6.06 ERA in 120 1/3 career Triple-A frames, but owns a 2.28 ERA in 90 2/3 innings at the penultimate level of the minors. The 25-year-old Rodriguez brings some infield versatility and pop to the table; he hit .291/.324/.454 with 17 home runs in 483 plate appearances last year at the Indians’ top affiliate. Krizan, 28, will return for his eighth year in the Detroit system; in 2017, he hit .281/.351/.417 in 480 upper-minors plate appearances. Wilson, who’ll soon turn 28 as well, is a speed-and-defense type who has not yet hit enough to earn his way into the big leagues.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Have Reached Out To Yonder Alonso]]> 2017-12-20T23:57:06Z 2017-12-20T23:56:39Z
  • The Indians are looking at a variety of possibilities now that Carlos Santana has moved on. Per’s Jordan Bastian, via Twitter, the club has reached out to free agent Yonder Alonso, who’s one of a few open-market names that has now been linked to Cleveland. The club could yet pursue a rather wide variety of players given the flexibility of some of its internal pieces. It still appears wise to expect that achieving value — rather than just targeting specific players — will be the driving force given the club’s payroll constraints.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Release Leo Campos To Pursue Opportunity In Japan]]> 2017-12-20T15:07:21Z 2017-12-20T15:07:21Z The Indians announced that they have released righty Leonel Campos to allow him to pursue an opportunity in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. Campos will join the Hiroshima Carp.

    It was less than a month ago that Campos signed a minors deal to join the Cleveland organization. He’d likely have taken up residence at Triple-A, but might also have had a shot at earning a MLB pen job with a big showing in camp. Instead, Campos will sign on to a sure payday to play the game at the top level in Asia.

    Campos, 30, has seen time in each of the past four MLB seasons but has compiled only 43 2/3 total frames. He carries a 4.74 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 5.6 BB/9 in that span. Campos can obviously generate some swings and misses — he got whiffs at an eye-popping 20.4% rate across 13 2/3 innings in 2017 — and has had success in the upper minors, but control problems have continued to hold him back.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Unlikely To Spend Heavily At First Base]]> 2017-12-20T04:24:16Z 2017-12-20T04:24:16Z
  • ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Indians aren’t operating under the same capacity that they did last offseason when they surprised everyone by signing Edwin Encarnacion (Twitter links). Cleveland is looking at lower-profile first base options to replace Carlos Santana, with Crasnick listing the likes of Lucas Duda, Matt Adams, Logan Morrison and Yonder Alonso as possibilities rather than Eric Hosmer. (Speculatively, I’d imagine that even Morrison and Alonso could be beyond Cleveland’s comfort zone.) Dealing Jason Kipnis and the remaining $30.5MM on his contract (2018-19) would open up some additional funds for the team to reallocate to a first baseman or additional bullpen help, Crasnick notes.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Market Notes: Red Sox, Hosmer, Royals, Cards, Donaldson, Mets, Kipnis, A-Gon]]> 2017-12-19T04:26:17Z 2017-12-19T04:26:17Z Signing Mitch Moreland doesn’t take the Red Sox out of the market for hitting, president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski told reporters including Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. And adding another stick wouldn’t necessarily mean trading away from the current roster to create space, the club’s top baseball decisionmaker added. But it surely does not seem that Boston will sign another first baseman; rather, a DH/corner outfield bat seems the likeliest possibility.

    • Boston’s decision seems to take it out of the market for Eric Hosmer, which has raised some eyebrows in Royals country. As Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star writes, there are still many barriers remaining to a return to Kansas City for Hosmer, including the possibility that agent Scott Boras will find a way to bring some new suitors into the picture. But keeping Hosmer in Royals blue for the future now seems more plausible than might have been expected when the organization began giving indication it would rebuild. Of course, even if that comes to pass, the general rebuilding plan will remain, the Star’s Rustin Dodd notes on Twitter.
    • The Cardinals appear to be showing more interest in veteran Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson than in Manny Machado of the Orioles, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Nightengale posits that the club may believe it’s better situated to pursue a long-term deal with Donaldson — who’s much older than Machado, though both will hit the open market at the same time — which would increase his appeal. Of course, it’s important to bear in mind there’s still no real indication that Toronto will move Donaldson and the St. Louis front office has suggested recently that it’s not all that keen on giving up significant assets for a rental.
    • While there has been some chatter recently connecting the Mets to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post says that possibility is not as likely as it has come to seem. Especially with Carlos Santana moving on, says Davidoff, the Indians are not particularly inclined to part with Kipnis’s contract for a marginal return. New York is trying to thread the needle in finding an upgrade at the position, with the organization concerned with giving up too much in salary or prospect value to make a deal. As the Post’s Joel Sherman writes, the Mets’ lack of top-end, marketable pre-MLB talent has posed an under-appreciated barrier to its winter activity.
    • The Mets, of course, are also eyeing the addition of another option at the first base position. New York had some interest in Moreland, per the above-cited Cafardo piece. And as James Wagner of the New York Times tweets, the Mets intend at least to take a look at the newest entrant onto the open market: Adrian Gonzalez. The veteran will be looking to bounce back after a rough, injury-plagued 2017 season, though he could conceivably bring some upside at a very appealing price.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mets Rumors: Bruce, Kipnis, Tribe]]> 2017-12-18T04:14:16Z 2017-12-18T04:14:16Z The latest from Citi Field…

    • The Mets have been linked to a possible reunion with Jay Bruce all offseason, and a Mets source tells Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News that the free agent is looking for a four-year contract.  This represents a shift in Bruce’s asking price, as he and his representatives began the offseason in search of a five-year pact worth $80-$90MM and reportedly were still sticking to that demand at the start of December.  Of course, starting with a high number is a common tactic in any negotiation, so it isn’t surprising that Bruce has limited his demand, particularly since the free agent market as a whole has yet to truly kick into gear.  Even four years may be too long for the Mets’ liking — while Bruce would be a valuable contributor at first base or in a corner outfield spot, New York has Michael Conforto (once he recovers from shoulder surgery) and rookie Dominic Smith slated for those spots over the long term.  The Rockies, Blue Jays, and Mariners have also been linked to Bruce at various points over the winter, though Seattle’s acquisitions of Ryon Healy and Dee Gordon may have lessened their desire for Bruce’s services.
    • A source “expressed skepticism” to Newsday’s Marc Carig (Twitter links) that the Mets and Indians would be able to work out a deal involving second baseman Jason Kipnis.  New York has been connected to a wide array of players as it tries to address its hole at the keystone, though with other trade avenues seemingly closing up, it was looking like Kipnis could be the Mets’ top option.  With the Mets also apparently open to taking on salary instead of moving prospects in trades, Kipnis seemed like an even clearer target; one rival executive described Kipnis as one of “the most attainable” second basemen left on the market given that the Tribe seems eager to get his $30.5MM in remaining salary off their books.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Agree To Minor League Deal With Melvin Upton Jr.]]> 2017-12-15T13:23:11Z 2017-12-15T13:23:11Z The Indians have agreed to a minor league contract with veteran outfielder Melvin Upton Jr., reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (on Twitter). Upton has already passed his physical, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, adding that the deal comes with a $1.5MM base salary in the Majors. Upton is represented by Reynolds Sports Management.

    Upton, 33, scarcely played in 2017 after being released by the Blue Jays at the end of Spring Training. He latched on with the Giants on a minor league deal shortly thereafter but quickly suffered a torn ligament in his thumb that required surgical repair. Upton returned to action in August but requested and received his release that month.

    Overall, Upton appeared in just 12 Triple-A games last season, hitting .244/.306/.333 in a minuscule sample of 49 plate appearances. Though his five-year, $72.25MM contract was a notorious misstep for the Braves, Upton did show some signs of life in the late stages of that deal after he’d been passed off onto the Padres. In 602 plate appearances with San Diego fro 2015-16, Upton slashed a respectable .257/.313/.435 (103 OPS+) with 21 homers and 29 stolen bases. His production cratered again following a trade to the Blue Jays, however (.196/.261/.318 in 165 PAs to close out the 2016 campaign).

    The Indians will obviously hope that Upton can more closely approximate the level of output he demonstrated as a member of the Padres. The signing bears a strong resemblance to Cleveland’s minor league deal with Austin Jackson last offseason, and Upton could head to Spring Training and vie for a similar role to the one Jackson held in 2017 (though the addition of Upton likely doesn’t preclude the possibility of a reunion with Jackson himself).