Cleveland Indians – MLB Trade Rumors 2021-01-23T15:51:44Z WordPress Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: 1/15/21]]> 2021-01-16T03:42:52Z 2021-01-15T16:51:22Z The deadline to exchange arbitration figures is today at 1pm ET. As of this morning, there were 125 arbitration-eligible players who’d yet to agree to terms on their contract for the upcoming 2021 season. Arbitration is muddier than ever before thanks to the shortened 2020 schedule, which most believe will lead to record number of arb hearings this winter. Be that as it may, it’s still reasonable to expect dozens of contractual agreements to filter in over the next couple of hours.

We’ll highlight some of the more high-profile cases in separate posts with more in-depth breakdowns, but the majority of today’s dealings will be smaller-scale increases that don’t radically alter a team’s payroll or a player’s trade candidacy. As such, we’ll just run through most of today’s agreements in this post.

I’ve embedded MLBTR’s 2021 Arbitration Tracker in the post (those in the mobile app or viewing on mobile web will want to turn their phones sideways). Our tracker can be sorted by team, by service time and/or by Super Two status, allowing users to check the status on whichever groups of players they like. You can also check out Matt Swartz’s projected arbitration salaries for this year’s class, and we’ll do a quick sentence on each player’s agreement at the bottom of this post as well, with the most recent agreements sitting atop the list.

Today’s Agreements (chronologically, newest to oldest)

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Corey Kluber, Steve Cishek, Anthony Swarzak Throw For Teams]]> 2021-01-14T20:08:26Z 2021-01-14T13:20:59Z Jan. 14: ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that Kluber’s market could come together rather quickly with one throwing session for teams in the books. He’s not expected to require a second showcase to further demonstrate his health.

Jan. 13: Free-agent right-hander Corey Kluber held a showcase for interested teams today, and Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that relievers Anthony Swarzak and Steve Cishek both threw for teams as well. (All three are clients of Jet Sports Management, so it’s natural that they’d host the workout together.) As many as 25 teams were present, per The Atheltic’s Britt Ghiroli (Twitter link).

ESPN’s Jeff Passan notes that Kluber’s velocity topped out at 90 mph, though given where he is in the rehab process from last year’s injuries, it wasn’t expected that he’d be up to peak velocity just yet. Eric Cressey, whose strength and conditioning facility hosted the showcase, told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers yesterday that Kluber was at 87-89 mph in the prior session. Cressey suggested that Kluber is already ahead of many pitchers who’ve not yet ramped up their throwing to this point. Kluber averaged 92 mph on his heater back during his excellent 2018 campaign.

The full list of teams in attendance isn’t known, although given that this was an open look at a two-time Cy Young winner and a pair of relievers with considerable late-inning MLB experience, it’d be more notable to learn which few teams weren’t in attendance than to know which clubs were. Still, it’s at least worth noting that each of the Mets, YankeesNationals, Red Sox, Rays, Twins, Cubs, Rangers, Marlins, Tigers, Pirates, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks and Indians were all reported to be attending the showcase. Obviously, it’s not an all-encompassing list.

Broadly speaking, if Kluber is indeed at a point in his rehab that inspires confidence, one would imagine the market for him will be robust. The extent to which clubs are willing to bet on a guaranteed contract on the two-time Cy Young winner will vary, but he should easily command a big league deal with plenty of incentives on top of whatever base the highest bidder will commit.

Kluber may be something of a lottery ticket at this point, but few gambles come with such pronounced upside. From 2014-18, the right-hander was one of the game’s premier pitchers, working to a combined 2.85 ERA while striking out 28.5 percent of the hitters he faced against just a 5.2 percent walk rate. Only three of the 179 qualified starting pitchers in that time period — Chris Sale, Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer — topped Kluber’s 23.3 K-BB%.

Since that time, however, he’s been limited to 36 2/3 innings by a fractured forearm (sustained when he was hit by a line drive), an oblique strain and a teres major strain. Traded from Cleveland to Texas last winter, Kluber pitched just one inning for the Rangers in 2020.

While most of the focus is understandably on Kluber, the presence of Swarzak and Cishek is certainly notable as well. Both righties are looking for rebounds of their own. Swarzak signed with the Phillies last winter but was released at the end of summer camp and didn’t sign with another club. A two-year, $14MM deal he signed with the Mets prior to the 2018 season proved regrettable, as shoulder issues torpedoed both of those seasons. However, back in 2017 Swarzak tossed 77 1/3 frames with a 2.33 ERA with 91 punchouts against just 22 walks.

Cishek, meanwhile, rattled off four straight seasons with a sub-3.00 ERA from 2016-19, leading to a $6MM deal with the White Sox last winter. He didn’t last on Chicago’s South Side, however, as he was roughed up for a 5.40 ERA in just 20 innings. Cishek’s control has been trending in the wrong direction the past couple of seasons, but he missed bats at his typical levels and didn’t see a velocity dip in 2020.

Anthony Franco <![CDATA[MLBTR Poll: Grading The Francisco Lindor Trade]]> 2021-01-10T21:05:19Z 2021-01-10T21:00:06Z The Mets and Indians made perhaps the biggest trade of the offseason earlier this week. Star shortstop Francisco Lindor and right-hander Carlos Carrasco are now Mets. They represent the biggest pair of additions for a New York club that has been expected all offseason to pursue star-level talent.

Lindor, of course, was seen as a near-lock to be moved all winter. The Indians seemingly never came close to working out an extension with the four-time All-Star. With Lindor one season removed from hitting free agency, it looked apparent Cleveland would trade him away. Carrasco was less obviously going to be moved this winter, but it wasn’t a huge surprise the Indians parted with him, either. Carrasco’s two-year, $27MM deal (with a 2023 option) marked the biggest guaranteed contract on Cleveland’s books. Lindor’s projected arbitration range ($17.5MM — $21.5MM) would’ve easily been the Indians’ largest 2021 expense.

Each of Lindor and Carrasco remains a bargain at those rates relative to their on-field production. But Cleveland’s ownership has signaled a desire to cut payroll this winter; it wasn’t hard to foresee that coming via jettisoning the team’s highest-paid players. Cleveland’s estimated $40MM payroll, per Roster Resource, is now less than half the team’s 2020 season-opening outlay (prior to prorating).

While finances were an obvious element of the trade, it wasn’t a mere salary dump. The Indians brought in four young players, two of whom are immediate big leaguers. Amed Rosario is a former elite prospect who has been up and down over his first three-plus MLB seasons. Andrés Giménez was a highly-regarded farmhand himself and had a decent if unspectacular rookie year. The pair of prospects, right-hander Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene, are recent high school draftees. They rank 25th and 28th, respectively, in the Indians’ farm system at FanGraphs.

Turning things over to the readership, how did each team fare in this week’s blockbuster?

(poll links for app users)



Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mets Acquire Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco]]> 2021-01-08T04:57:31Z 2021-01-08T04:57:41Z The Mets have made their first huge deal of the Steve Cohen era, acquiring shortstop Francisco Lindor and right-hander Carlos Carrasco from the Indians as part of a six-player trade.  To replace their star shortstop, Cleveland will receive two prominent young infielders in Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez and a pair of Mets prospects — right-hander Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene.

It has been widely assumed that Lindor would be on the move at some point this offseason, as the Tribe is looking to cut payroll and Lindor is now entering his final season before free agency.  The Mets have been one of many teams mentioned as a plausible suitor, though comments made by both new owner Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson implied that the Mets would be more apt to sign big-name players rather than trade for them, due to a lack of minor league depth in New York’s farm system.

Instead, Alderson and new Mets GM Jared Porter have now swung a major blockbuster.  Financial terms of the deal haven’t yet been made public, but it’s safe to assume the Mets are picking up all of the $27MM owed to Carrasco through the 2022 season.  Between Carrasco’s contract and Lindor’s projected salary (between $17.5MM and $21.5MM) in his final year of arbitration, Cohen’s willingness to spend manifested itself in a different way, as the Mets will now upgrade their roster by taking some salaries off the books of the cost-cutting Cleveland organization.

Since his debut in 2015, no shortstop in baseball has a higher fWAR (28.9) than Lindor.  A four-time All-Star with two Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger Awards, Lindor has hit .285/.346/.488 with 138 home runs over his six big league seasons, and further established himself as an all-around talent by stealing 99 bases.  2020 was a down year for Lindor, as he hit only .258/.335/.415 over a league-high 266 PA, but that would certainly be explained by the unusual nature of the shortened season rather than a clear sign of a decline.

It is also fair to wonder if Lindor might have been impacted by the trade speculation that has been swirling around him for the better part of three years.  After some early-career extension talks with the Tribe failed to lead to a deal, it became increasingly clear that Cleveland would look to trade Lindor rather than just let him walk in free agency.  Indians owner Paul Dolan said in 2019 that his team didn’t have the resources to invest heavily in a single player, and rather notoriously told Cleveland fans to “enjoy [Lindor] and then we’ll see what happens.”

Lindor now becomes the centerpiece of an already-strong Mets lineup, as he will step in as the everyday shortstop.  Luis Guillorme looks like New York’s top backstop shortstop option now that Rosario and Gimenez are gone, though Jose Peraza and Wilfredo Tovar are also on hand.  The Mets could look to add another veteran utility infield type prior to Opening Day, though Jeff McNeil’s ability to play multiple positions gives them some cover in that respect.

We also shouldn’t assume that the Mets are anywhere near done with major moves, of course.  The club has already signed James McCann and Trevor May in free agency, retained Marcus Stroman via the qualifying offer, and such big names as George Springer and Trevor Bauer are also known to be free agent targets for Alderson and company.  Since the Mets are still roughly $32MM short of the $210 luxury tax threshold, at least one more pricey contract could certainly be added, and possibly more if the club moved some other salary in a trade, or was willing to take a one-year tax hit for exceeding the threshold.

Carrasco joins Stroman and ace Jacob deGrom in a strong 1-2-3 punch atop the New York rotation.  If rookie David Peterson can continue his 2020 performance over a full season and Noah Syndergaard is in form during his midseason return from Tommy John surgery rehab, the Mets could very well have one of the sport’s top starting fives.  On the flip side, given the uncertainty of Syndergaard’s health, how Stroman will look after opting out of the 2020 season, and the possibility of a sophomore slump for Peterson, this same rotation carries some questions that now aren’t as glaring with a solid veteran like Carrasco in the fold.

Carrasco’s salary made him a natural trade candidate, and today’s news ends his 11-season run as a beloved favorite for both Cleveland’s fans and within the Tribe’s locker room.  Carrasco posted a 3.77 ERA, 25.5 K%, and 19.2 K-BB% over his 1242 1/3 innings in an Indians uniform, highlighted by a 2017 season that saw him finish fourth in AL Cy Young Award voting.

After missing almost three months of the 2019 season due to a leukemia diagnosis, Carrasco made an emotional return to the field that September, and then looked to be fully back during a 2020 season that saw him post a 2.91 ERA, 29.3 K%, and 19.6% K-BB% over 68 frames.  His 9.6 BB% is a bit of a red flag, and his highest total in the category since his 2009 rookie season, though this could again be a by-product of the small 2020 sample size.

It was less than four years ago that Rosario was a consensus top-10 prospect in baseball, and between his young age (25) and the flashes he has shown over four MLB seasons, it isn’t out of the question that he can still fulfill that potential with a change of scenery.  Rosario looked to be breaking out in 2019, when he hit .322/.353/.453 over his final 372 plate appearances of the season, but he managed just a .252/.272/.371 slash line in 147 PA in 2020.

As it happened, Gimenez received more playing time ahead of Rosario, and Gimenez responded with a .263/.333/.398 slash in his first 132 plate appearances as a major leaguer.  A former top-100 prospect himself, Gimenez is considered a better defender than Rosario and might be Cleveland’s preferred choice at shortstop, with Rosario perhaps moving into the second base vacancy left open by free agent Cesar Hernandez.  Since Rosario has been considered to have multi-position capability, the Tribe could also move Rosario around the diamond, perhaps a way of addressing their longstanding outfield problem.

It probably isn’t a surprise that both Wolf and Greene weren’t drafted by Alderson’s front office, which may have made him more open to moving these particular prospects.  The two youngsters were second-round picks (Wolf in 2019, Greene in 2020) during Brodie Van Wagenen’s time as New York’s general manager, and were respectively ranked ninth and 10th in MLB Pipeline’s list of Mets minor leaguers.

Drafted as a high schooler out of Texas, Wolf pitched eight innings over five appearances for the Mets’ rookie ball team in 2019.  Pipeline rates both his curveball and his fastball as 60-grade plus pitches, with his heater averaging 94mph during his brief rookie ball debut.  As per the scouting report, “Wolf’s athleticism, quick arm and clean delivery enable him to pitch to both sides of the plate and all four quadrants of the strike zone, and he earns high marks for his aptitude with regards to making adjustments.”

Greene is another high school product, and he won’t celebrate his 20th birthday until August.  Greene is a bit raw, but he already has what Pipeline’s scouting report described as “a contact-oriented approach” at the plate, plus speed, and potential to remain as a center fielder.  Baseball America thinks left field might be his eventual destination, but still ranked Greene as the 49th-best prospect available in the 2020 draft, and noted that Greene was “drawing comparisons to Garret Anderson and Michael Brantley” as a hitter.

In the bigger picture, today’s trade emulates other major swaps made by the Indians in recent years — a higher-priced star player (whether Lindor, Carrasco, Mike Clevinger, Trevor Bauer, or Corey Kluber) is dealt for a combination of big-league ready pieces and younger talent.  Cleveland president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff have done an admirable job of keeping the Indians competitive amidst this constant shedding of higher-paid players, in part due to the team’s ability to consistent develop quality pitchers from its minor league system.

That said, Cleveland now has just over $40MM on its books for 2021, and no players officially under contract beyond the season.  At least one of Jose Ramirez’s club options seem a safe bet to be exercised, but that’s assuming Ramirez isn’t also traded at some point in the next 12 months.  The lack of both fan attendance and revenue-sharing payments unquestionably delivered a big hit to the team’s financial picture, but this even more austere approach to roster construction will surely hamper Cleveland’s chances at contending in the AL Central and making another postseason appearance.’s Jeff Passan (Twitter links) was the first to report that the two teams were “deep in talks” about a Lindor deal, and Passan also noted Gimenez was part of the trade.  MLB Network’s Jon Heyman first reported the the two sides had agreed to the trade.’s Mark Feinsand reported Carrasco’s involvement in the swap.  MLB Pipeline’s Jonathan Mayo reported that Rosario was being dealt, while The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Wolf’s involvement, and ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel) had Greene’s involvement.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Lindor Notes: Extension, Springer, Jays, Odorizzi, Yankees]]> 2021-01-08T01:23:27Z 2021-01-08T01:05:31Z The Mets swung a massive trade Thursday when they unexpectedly acquired superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor and right-hander Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland. It’s the biggest story in baseball at the moment, so reactions have come pouring in over the past several hours. Here’s some of the fallout from the deal…

  • Lindor is only under control for one more season, in which he’ll make a projected $17.5MM to $21.5MM, though the Mets will try to keep him around beyond then. Mets president Sandy Alderson said the team will broach in the next few weeks” an extension with the four-time All-Star, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. That’s not surprising news, as the Mets had to part with four young players (Andres Gimenez, Amed Rosario, Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene) to get the deal done, and new owner Steve Cohen certainly has the money to pay Lindor on a long-term contract.
  • While the Mets may be willing to keep Lindor around for the foreseeable future, it never seemed realistic for low-budget Cleveland to sign him to an extension. The club knew last spring it wouldn’t be able to extend Lindor, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, who reports that it offered the 27-year-old $200MM. That didn’t come close, though, as Lindor was then seeking upward of $300MM.
  • In the wake of the Lindor/Carrasco trade, the Mets aren’t necessarily finished making big-ticket acquisitions, though it’s “less likely” they will sign free-agent outfielder George Springer because of an unwillingness to exceed the $210MM luxury-tax threshold, Andy Martino of SNY writes. New York is in the $190MM payroll vicinity at the moment, and it would like to open the season around $5MM to $10MM under the $210MM mark, Martino reports. The Mets have been tied throughout the offseason to Springer, arguably the top position player on the open market. The former Astro wants a deal in the $175MM range, but the Mets have been short of that at around five years and $150MM, according to Martino. The Blue Jays, who have also been in on Springer, are in the five-year, $115MM range, Martino relays.
  • The Mets had interest in free-agent righty Jake Odorizzi earlier in the offseason, but getting Carrasco put the kibosh on that, as Martino writes that they’re no longer in the running to sign him. The Mets are slated to rely on Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Carrasco and David Peterson as their top four starters, at least until Noah Syndergaard returns from Tommy John surgery during the summer.
  • With DJ LeMahieu currently a free agent, the Yankees were speculative candidates to make a deal for Lindor. While the team did inquire about Lindor before the crosstown rival Mets reeled him in, the Yankees’ main focus has continued to be re-signing LeMahieu, Sherman tweets. Because they’re so locked in on LeMahieu, the Yankees only regarded Lindor as a fallback option.
  • Mets general manager Jared Porter told reporters (including Anthony DiComo of that they have five to six prospects whom they have no plans to trade. To no one’s surprise, Porter did not reveal any names, though DiComo lists shortstop Ronny Mauricio, righties Matthew Allan and J.T. Ginn, catcher Francisco Alvarez, third baseman Brett Baty and outfielder Pete Crowe-Armstrong as farmhands who probably aren’t going anywhere. They each rank among the Mets’ top six prospects at
Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Pirates, Indians Showed Past Trade Interest In Alejandro Kirk]]> 2021-01-03T20:09:12Z 2021-01-03T20:08:17Z Alejandro Kirk’s bat has drawn a lot of attention over his three pro seasons, including a 2020 MLB debut that saw the Blue Jays catcher post a .983 OPS over his first 25 plate appearances as a big leaguer.  As one might expect, rival teams have taken notice of Kirk, with TSN’s Scott Mitchell reporting that the Pirates and Indians have both tried to acquire the catcher within the last 14 months.

Cleveland wanted Kirk in a potential Corey Kluber trade with the Jays last offseason, prior to the deal that saw Kluber sent to Texas for Delino DeShields Jr., Emmanuel Clase and the Rangers agreeing to absorb all of Kluber’s $17.5MM salary for the 2020 season.  The Pirates’ interest was more recent, as Mitchell notes that the Bucs “tried to pry him away” from Toronto just this past summer.

The Blue Jays and Pirates were known to be in discussions over such pitchers as Trevor Williams, Chad Kuhl, and Joe Musgrove prior to the trade deadline, with a trade for Musgrove reportedly falling through at the veritable last minute.  Since Pittsburgh GM Ben Cherington came to the job after working in Toronto’s front office, it isn’t surprising that the rebuilding Pirates and the aggressive Blue Jays are often mentioned as potential trade partners.  Musgrove is still a hot commodity on the trade market, and with the Jays still looking to add pitching, a deal could certainly still come together between the two sides before the offseason is through.

Likewise, the past Cleveland ties of Jays president Mark Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins have seemingly put the Blue Jays in mind when discussing any potential Indians trade chip.  To name one prominent example, Toronto has had interest in Francisco Lindor for well over a year, and Lindor still looms as a potential acquisition given the widespread expectation that the Tribe will deal the shortstop prior to Opening Day.

Whether Kirk could be part of a future deal to Cleveland or Pittsburgh remains in question, however.  Mitchell believes the Jays will hang onto Kirk to see if he could be a reliable regular in 2021, both catching and as a DH against left-handed pitching.  Danny Jansen is Toronto’s incumbent starter behind the plate, with Reese McGuire and prospects Gabriel Moreno and Riley Adams also on hand to give the Blue Jays quite a bit of major and minor league depth at the position — as Mitchell writes, one of the catchers “will be traded this year, it just won’t be Kirk.”  Of course, should the Jays make the big splash to sign free agent target J.T. Realmuto, it would seem likely that multiple catchers (perhaps including Kirk) would be shopped.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Indians Unlikely To Re-Sign Tyler Naquin]]> 2020-12-27T15:41:47Z 2020-12-27T15:39:11Z
  • Tyler Naquin is drawing interest from multiple teams, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes, but it doesn’t seem like a reunion with the Indians is in the cards.  “The chances of [Naquin] re-signing were slim” after the Tribe non-tendered Naquin earlier this month, Hoynes writes.  The 15th overall pick of the 2012 draft, Naquin showed flashes of stardom (particularly in his 2016 rookie year) during five seasons in Cleveland, but injuries and struggles against left-handed pitching have hampered Naquin’s career.  Interstingly, Hoynes notes that “a couple” of teams are thinking about Naquin as a candidate to play center field, though Naquin hasn’t played the position since 2018 and his defensive metrics as a center fielder aren’t promising.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Orioles Hire Tony Mansolino As Third Base Coach]]> 2020-12-25T00:10:57Z 2020-12-25T00:10:57Z The Orioles have hired Tony Mansolino as their third base coach, Rich Dubroff of tweets. Paul Hoynes of reported the news earlier this month, but it flew under MLBTR’s radar.

    Mansolino will take over for Jose Flores, who had been on the Orioles’ staff since they hired manager Brandon Hyde before the 2019 season. Flores worked as their third base coach and served as an infield instructor.

    The 38-year-old Mansolino is a former minor league infielder who has garnered quite a bit of coaching experience since his playing career ended in 2010. Mansolino managed and coached in Cleveland’s system for 11 years, Hoynes notes. He spent last season as Cleveland’s infield coordinator, and he subbed in as its third base coach, replacing Mike Sarbaugh, when manager Terry Francona went on leave for health reasons.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Indians Avoid Arbitration With Nick Wittgren]]> 2020-12-22T19:42:22Z 2020-12-22T19:30:28Z The Indians and right-hander Nick Wittgren have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $2MM salary for the 2021 season, The Athletic’s Zack Meisel reports (Twitter link).

    The 29-year-old Wittgren was making his second of three trips through the arbitration process this winter.  MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected Wittgren to earn between $1.4MM-$2.2MM after the righty earned $1.125MM last offseason in another arb-avoiding deal.

    Acquired in something of a steal of a trade from the Marlins in February 2019, Wittgren built off the promise he showed in Miami to become a key part of the Cleveland bullpen.  Over 80 games and 81 1/3 innings with the Tribe, Wittgren has a 2.99 ERA, 4.19 K/BB rate, and 9.7 K/9.  ERA predictors haven’t been quite as impressed (4.24 FIP, 4.02 xFIP, 3.56 SIERA) since Wittgren has gotten some good luck in the form of an 84% strand rate and a .254 BABIP, and Statcast also doesn’t love many of his peripheral numbers.  Wittgren is also a bit homer-prone, though he does do a good job of limiting walks.

    The Tribe has been comfortable using Wittgren as a setup man, and it seems likely that he’ll continue in that role in 2021, albeit in front of a new closer now that Brad Hand was cut loose.  James Karinchak or Emmanuel Clase could be tabbed as the top ninth-inning options, and it’s possible Wittgren might also pick up the stray save opportunity.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cleveland To Change Team Name]]> 2020-12-14T19:12:21Z 2020-12-14T19:10:26Z DECEMBER 14: Owner Paul Dolan confirmed that the franchise plans to change the team name in an interview with Tom Withers of the Associated Press. Cleveland has also released a statement announcing the news. Unlike the NFL’s Washington organization, the club will continue to use the Indians moniker until a permanent replacement is determined. For at least the 2021 season, the franchise will remain known as the Indians. Dolan said the permanent team name will not reference Native American people or cultures in any way, specifically rejecting the possibility of the team being known as the Tribe.

    DECEMBER 13: The Cleveland Indians have decided to change their team name, according to David Waldstein and Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times.  An announcement from the club could come at some point this week, though the team might retain the name throughout the 2021 season and then officially adopt a new nickname for 2022.  The club is also considering adopting a generic name (such as “The Cleveland Baseball Team”) in the interim.

    The Cleveland organization announced it was considering a possible name change in a statement last July, not long after the NFL’s Washington franchise indicated it was weighing a move away from its former nickname — hence the creation of the “Washington Football Team” designation for the 2020-21 NFL campaign.  Even before July, however, there had been indications that the Cleveland team was slowly laying the groundwork for a name change, such as how the club’s old “Chief Wahoo” mascot was no longer prominently featured on uniforms, and the now-familiar “C” logo had become the primary choice on caps.

    This won’t be the first name change for the franchise, as they were first known as the Grand Rapids Rustlers upon their original foundation in 1894 (when based in Grand Rapids, Michigan) and then became known as the Cleveland Lake Shores after moving to Ohio.  When the team joined the American League in 1901, the name changed twice in as many seasons, going from the Bluebirds (or Blues) in 1901 and then the Bronchos in 1902, before settling on becoming “the Cleveland Naps” from 1903-1914 in a nod to newly-acquired superstar Napoleon Lajoie.

    A new name was obviously required after Lajoie was sold to the Philadelphia A’s following the 1914 season, and it then that Cleveland adopted its current nickname.  The proper origin of the “Indians” name has remained unknown, as the popular story that the nickname was chosen in honor of Louis Sockalexis (a Native American and fan favorite for the National League’s Cleveland Spiders in 1897-99) isn’t exactly true, as there are also several indications that Cleveland chose the name to capitalize on the popularity of the 1914 World Series champion Boston Braves.

    Cleveland’s team name has remained the same for 106 years, throughout increasing criticism that the nickname and related imagery — such as Chief Wahoo and the alternate “Tribe” nickname — was offensive and stereotypical.  As noted by Waldstein and Schmidt, many colleges and high schools across North America that used to carry Native American-related nicknames and mascots have changed their branding in recent years, and the Washington Football Team’s decision was the first such step taken by one of the clubs in the four major team sports.  One would imagine that Cleveland’s decision will increase pressure on the Atlanta Braves, the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, and the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, though none of those teams has indicated that a name change is under consideration.

    The Cleveland franchise’s new name could be decided “in consultation with the public,” according to Waldstein/Schmidt, which could take the form of a public poll (of a shortlist of name choices selected by the organization) or potentially a more extensive approach such as the discussions that went into the naming of Seattle’s new NHL expansion franchise, the Seattle Kraken.  Fans have been floating potential alternate names for Cleveland’s team for years, with such throwback choices as the Spiders being a popular favorite, as well as some consideration that the team could go completely old-school and permanently become “the Cleveland Baseball Club.”  Certainly these and many more fanciful possibilities will be suggested in the coming months.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Domingo Santana To Sign With Japan’s Yakult Swallows]]> 2020-12-03T04:24:48Z 2020-12-03T03:13:02Z Slugger Domingo Santana is crossing the Pacific for the 2021 season, according to a report from’s Jon Morosi (via Twitter). The veteran outfielder is said to have agreed to a contract with Japan’s Yakult Swallows, the details of which remain unknown at this time.

    Santana, 28, returned to the open market recently when the Indians declined a club option. He’ll now hope for a resurgence in Nippon Professional Baseball, the top level of play outside of North America.

    While he has generally been a productive hitter in the majors, Santana hasn’t always done quite enough damage to make up for his defensive limitations. At his best — in 2017 with the Brewers — he swatted thirty long balls and turned in a full season of 126 wRC+ hitting, making it easy to overlook the questionable work in the outfield grass. At his work — in 2020 with the Indians — a rough offensive stretch left Santana a below-replacement-level performer.

    It’s not difficult to imagine a prodigious offensive output from Santana in Japan. He’s still rather young and has typically reached base at a solid enough clip to tamp down any worries with his usually hefty strikeout tally.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[American League Non-Tenders]]> 2020-12-03T05:03:06Z 2020-12-03T00:54:05Z With revenue losses expected to result in reduced payrolls around baseball, a larger number of players than usual are expected to be let go by their current teams by tonight’s 7pm CT non-tender deadline.  Some of these players could end up re-signing with their teams for salaries below what they were projected (by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz) to earn through the arbitration process, or teams could end up simply opting to explore other options…with many of those options arriving on the market through this same non-tender process.

    You can track all of the arbitration and non-tender activity here, and we’ll also run through the list of American League players who have been let go in this post.  (The NL list is available here.)

    • In addition to Naquin, covered below, the Indians announced that they’ve non-tendered outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. and right-hander Jefry Rodriguez. Cleveland picked up DeShields in the Corey Kluber salary dump to the Rangers last winter, and he managed a tepid .252/.310/.318 slash in 137 plate appearances. Rodriguez wasn’t arb-eligible yet and didn’t pitch in the Majors this season, but the Indians obviously wanted to open the 40-man spot. He has a career 5.20 ERA and 5.29 FIP in 98 2/3 innings.
    • The Rangers non-tendered utilityman Danny Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports. The 30-year-old switch-hitter had a big season with Texas in 2019, but as was the case with his rookie showing in Minnesota, the results were largely BABIP-driven. Santana underwent elbow surgery in September and may not be ready for Opening Day, so his non-tender isn’t a surprise. Outfielder Scott Heineman and righty Jimmy Herget were also non-tendered, the team announced.
    • Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that the Rays have non-tendered righty Edgar Garcia, who was not yet eligible for arbitration. Tampa acquired Garcia for a PTBNL in August after the Phils designated him for assignment, but he was hit hard in a small sample of work. The Rays prefer to have an open roster spot and will make Garcia a free agent.

    Earlier Non-Tenders

    • The Indians have non-tendered outfielder Tyler Naquin, Paul Hoynes of tweets. Naquin, who would have earned around $2MM in arbitration, is coming off a poor year in Cleveland. The 29-year-old slashed .218/.248/.383 with four home runs, 40 strikeouts and five walks in 141 plate appearances. Naquin joined the Indians as the 15th overall pick in 2012, but he has only provided league-average offense since debuting in 2016.
    • The Royals also non-tendered Maikel Franco, as covered here. The White Sox, meanwhile, cut ties with Nomar Mazara and Carlos Rodon, as outlined here.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cam Hill Undergoes Wrist Surgery ]]> 2020-12-02T04:33:51Z 2020-12-02T04:29:34Z
  • Indians right-handed reliever Cam Hill announced that he was involved in a car crash Monday, Zack Meisel of The Athletic relays. Hill suffered a wrist injury that required surgery, but the 26-year-old indicated that he and everyone else involved in the crash came out OK. He suggested that he’ll be ready for next season. Hill made his major league debut in 2020 and posted a 4.91 ERA/5.43 FIP with 7.85 K/9 and 2.45 BB/9 across 18 1/3 innings.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Marlins Acquire Adam Cimber, Designate Jose Urena]]> 2020-11-30T22:27:21Z 2020-11-30T21:35:56Z The Marlins have acquired right-hander Adam Cimber from the Indians for cash considerations, per an announcement from Cleveland. The Indians will receive $100K, according to Tom Withers of the Associated Press. Miami designated righty Jose Urena for assignment in a corresponding move, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports.

    Also a former Padre, the 30-year-old Cimber will now join his third team since he debuted in the majors in 2018. Although he only averages around 86 mph on his fastball, Cimber has generated decent results in the bigs, including during a 2020 campaign in which he logged a 3.97 ERA/3.99 FIP with a 52.4 percent groundball rate and a 1.59 BB/9. Cimber averaged a paltry 3.97 strikeouts per nine during his 11 1/3 innings of work (down from 6.51 the previous year), though, and the Indians then deemed him expendable when they designated him last week.

    Cimber will go down as the first trade acquisition for new Marlins general manager Kim Ng, and he’ll try to help a bullpen that ranked fifth from the bottom in ERA and second to last in FIP in 2020. He’ll be an inexpensive part of their relief corps next year, as he’s projected to earn between $800K and $1MM in arbitration. Cimber isn’t due to reach free agency until after 2024, so he could be a multiyear piece for Miami.

    Urena is the Marlins’ longest-tenured player, Craig Mish of Sports Grid notes, but it appears the two sides are going to part ways. The 2020 season, which could go down as Urena’s last as a Marlin, ended in ugly fashion when he suffered a right forearm fracture at the end of September. He concluded his season with 23 1/3 innings of 5.40 ERA/6.06 FIP ball and 5.79 K/9 against 5.01 BB/9. It was the second straight rough season for the 29-year-old Urena, who enjoyed a solid run as a viable innings-eater from 2017-18. But considering his performance since 2019 and his $3.8MM to $4.2MM arbitration projection for next year, Urena entered this offseason as an obvious non-tender candidate.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[MLBTR Poll: Shortstop Trade Candidates]]> 2020-11-28T03:50:06Z 2020-11-28T03:50:06Z It’s early in the offseason, but three star shortstops have already been mentioned as trade candidates. The Indians’ Francisco Lindor, the Rockies’ Trevor Story and the Astros’ Carlos Correa each seem to have at least a small chance of ending up on the move this winter. The question is: Which of the three would you prefer to acquire?

    There isn’t a more accomplished member of the trio than Lindor, a 27-year-old who has already earned four All-Star nods and a pair of Gold Glove Awards since his career began in 2015. If you’re looking for flaws, though, the switch-hitting Lindor isn’t coming off a stellar year at the plate, as he slashed .258/.335/.415 (good for a league-average 100 wRC+) with eight home runs and six stolen bases in 266 trips. He also comes with potentially the biggest price tag of the three players, with MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projecting a salary between $17.5MM and $21MM for his final year of team control.

    Story, 28, had a better year than Lindor and Correa in 2019, slashing .289/.355/.519 (117 wRC+) with 11 homers and 15 steals across 259 plate appearances. It was the third straight exemplary season for Story, a two-time All-Star who’s also a year from free agency. Story’s locked in for a $17.5MM salary next season after signing a two-year, $27.5MM extension before 2020.

    Correa is also slated to be part of next winter’s standout class of free-agent shortstops. In the meantime, he’ll rake in the lowest salary (between $8MM and $10.2MM) next year. The 26-year-old’s name hit the rumor mill earlier this week, though the Astros reportedly aren’t in active negotiations to trade him. If they were, they wouldn’t be aiming to sell high on Correa, who was uncharacteristically pedestrian at the plate in 2020. Correa wound up with a line of .264/.326/.383 (97 wRC+) and five HRs in 221 PA. The good news is that he stayed healthy after three consecutive injury-limited, albeit more productive, seasons.

    All three of these well-known shortstops are nearing free agency, so any of them could be involved in trades before the 2021 campaign. Considering their production and their salaries, which one would you want?

    (Poll link for app users)