Cleveland Indians – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-02-20T12:12:05Z WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles Claim Andrew Velazquez, Designate Richard Urena]]> 2020-02-19T19:01:09Z 2020-02-19T18:46:53Z The Orioles have claimed utilityman Andrew Velazquez off waivers from the Indians, per a club announcement. To create roster space, the team designated fellow infielder Richard Urena.

Velazquez, a 25-year-old switch-hitter, has only minimal MLB experience. In 648 total plate appearances at the Triple-A level, he owns a .260/.316/.415 batting line with 16 home runs.

If Urena clears waivers, he’ll likely end up competing for a job with Velazquez … among others. Both of these players have similar backgrounds — including that they primarily came up as shortstops. Velazquez has greater experience at other spots, particularly the outfield.

The field is rather broad. Urena had himself been claimed off waivers recently. With that move, the O’s dropped Pat Valaika, who’s also still in camp — as is fellow recent addition Ramon Urias. Other utility candidates with MLB experience include Stevie Wilkerson, Jose Rondon, Dilson Herrera, and Jesmuel Valentin. Those and perhaps still other players will be looking to win spots in the bench mix, as the O’s appear set to go with a double-play combo of Jose Iglesias and Hanser Alberto.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Red Sox, Padres Reportedly Still Negotiating Wil Myers Swap]]> 2020-02-19T14:27:35Z 2020-02-19T14:27:37Z FEBRUARY 19: The Pads are indeed interested in both Lindor and Senzel, Dennis Lin of The Athletic reports (subscription link). It’s even possible that the Myers talks with the Red Sox could morph into a three-team arrangement involving the Reds, Lin adds.

FEBRUARY 18: Spring Training is now upon us. Prior talks failed to result in a deal. And yet the Red Sox are still holding talks with the Padres about a potential deal that would send first baseman/outfielder Wil Myers to Boston, according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Details are about as firm as you could ever hope to see them in a rumor of a potential swap. As before, the Friars want the Sox to take over about half of Myers’s salary (total guarantee of $61MM) over the next three years. Young talent would go to Boston to sweeten the pot. Players that have been discussed include Cal Quantrill, Luis Campusano, and Gabriel Arias, though it’s not clear which would be included and the Sox wouldn’t be able to obtain all of them just to take on half of what’s owed Myers.

That leaves out one major component of the as-yet-uncompleted trade talks: what would come back from the Red Sox? The original chatter between these teams involved Mookie Betts, who is no longer in the Boston stable. There’s no real indication just yet as to what current Red Sox might pique the interest of Padres GM A.J. Preller.

Yet more intriguing? The real goal, per Acee, is to swing a blockbuster for a high-level talent. He notes Nick Senzel of the Reds and Francisco Lindor of the Indians as longstanding targets, but it’s not really clear whether either is realistically available at this point. There aren’t many other conceivable candidates to be acquired who’d meet the description of a “difference-making” performer.

It’s fair to hold some skepticism here, especially as to the possible second prong of this scenario. Then again, Preller once pulled off a trade for Craig Kimbrel just before the start of a season, so it’s tough to rule out any mid-spring fireworks.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Francisco Lindor’s Future]]> 2020-02-18T00:50:53Z 2020-02-18T00:50:53Z After an offseason of trade rumors, the Indians still employ superstar Francisco Lindor. This is the time of year for extension talks and there are indications of mutual interest. But it’s far from clear there’s a match to be made.

Both Lindor and Cleveland president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti addressed the shortstop’s contract situation today, with’s Alden Gonzalez covering. He’s slated to earn $17.5MM this year with one more year of arbitration eligibility remaining, though the only hope of him remaining in town for the long run would be a new deal of some kind.

Lindor left no doubt he sees Cleveland as “home” and expressed a strong desire to stay and win with his sole professional organization. The 26-year-old also suggested he thinks a long-term contract is possible — and not just in the perfunctory way we sometimes hear from players.

“If the negotiations or whatever makes sense, it’s gonna happen,” Lindor said of a potential blockbuster extension. “The team is not broke. The league is not broke. There’s money.”

So, if Lindor truly wants to stay and feels the economic bridge can be spanned … is there a chance? Antonetti was rather less sanguine, his comments leaving the sense that player and team may well be fated by broader forces to part.

While he says there have been “meaningful efforts” to reach a deal in the past and acknowledges Lindor’s sincerity, Antonetti struck a realistic tone. While the team would also “love for Francisco to be here long-term,” Antonetti explained, it just isn’t that simple.

“It’s not because of a lack of desire on our part, or not because of a lack of desire on Francisco’s part. But more when you look at the economics of baseball and the realities of building championship teams in a small market, it gets really tough. The interest is there, the desire is there, on both sides, to try to get something done. And whether or not that’s possible we just don’t know.”

That stance jives with prior comments of Indians owner Paul Dolan, who has made clear he doesn’t find $300MM+ contracts plausible in the near future for his organization. Dolan also has advised fans to enjoy Lindor while he’s still with the club.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mike Clevinger To Undergo Knee Surgery]]> 2020-02-15T01:06:26Z 2020-02-15T01:05:29Z 7:03pm: Clevinger is expected to be able to return to action in six to eight weeks, the team tells reporters including’s Mandy Bell (Twitter link).

8:58am: Indians ace Mike Clevinger is slated to undergo surgery to repair a partial tear of the medial meniscus in his left knee, reports Zack Meisel of The Athletic (Twitter link). Clevinger has been on crutches after sustaining the injury while training earlier this week. A timetable for his return is not yet known.

While a meniscus tear typically isn’t a season-ender, it also seems highly unlikely that Clevinger would be ready to open the season in the Cleveland rotation. The extent of his rehab will be determined following the operation, but even a return on the short end of typical meniscus timelines would leave Clevinger with little (if any) time to ramp up for the season.

The Indians, for the first time in several years, will head into the season as underdogs in the American League Central — and the loss of Clevinger for any portion of the season will only dampen their hopes. The team is deep in pitching options, but Clevinger and fellow righty Shane Bieber were the two best options at manager Terry Francona’s disposal. (Carlos Carrasco, of course, is immensely talented but more of a wild card following last year’s battle with leukemia.)

Bieber and Carrasco figure to front the rotation now, and the Indians will likely choose among Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale, Adam Plutko, Jefry Rodriguez, Logan Allen and Scott Moss to round out the final three spots in the rotation. Both Plesac (3.81 ERA in 115 2/3 innings) and Civale (2.34 ERA in 57 2/3 innings) looked sharp in their respective MLB debuts in 2019, although fielding-independent pitching metrics considered both to be more than a full run worse than his eared run average. Plutko has been up and down with the Indians over the past three seasons, posting a combined 5.08 ERA/5.61 FIP in 189 2/3 frames. Rodriguez posted similar results to the rest of that group (4.63 ERA/4.54 FIP in 46 2/3 innings).

The 22-year-old Allen, meanwhile, is a well-regarded southpaw who came over in last summer’s three-team Trevor Bauer/Franmil Reyes/Yasiel Puig blockbuster. He’s light on big league experience but considered one of the organization’s more promising arms. Moss, too, was acquired in that swap. Unlike Allen, he’s yet to make his big league debut. He did post strong numbers in the upper minors in 2019, however, including a hearty 159 strikeouts in just 130 2/3 frames. Control is an issue for the 6’6″ lefty, but he’ll get a look as a potential option in the coming weeks.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Designate Andrew Velazquez For Assignment]]> 2020-02-14T16:11:04Z 2020-02-14T16:11:04Z The Indians announced Friday that they’ve designated infielder Andrew Velazquez for assignment. His spot on the 40-man roster goes to outfielder/designated hitter Domingo Santana, whose one-year deal with the Indians has now been formally announced.

Velazquez, 25, appeared in five games with the Indians in 2019 and went 1-for-11. He’s appeared sparingly at the MLB level between the Tampa Bay and Cleveland organizations, hitting .152/.222/.242 in a minuscule sample of 36 plate appearances. The Indians acquired him just this past July in exchange for international bonus pool allotments.

The versatile Velazquez is a shortstop by nature but has also logged ample time in center field, at second base and at third base throughout an eight-year minor league tenure. He’s a career .260/.316/.415 hitter in 648 plate appearances at the Triple-A level. Cleveland will have a week to trade Velazquez, place him on outright waivers or release him. He does have two minor league option years remaining, so a club seeking some versatile infield depth could place a speculative claim if it has the roster flexibility at present.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Complete Deal With Domingo Santana]]> 2020-02-14T13:40:34Z 2020-02-14T13:11:29Z The Indians have completed their rumored contract with outfielder/designated hitter Domingo Santana, tweets Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The Wasserman client will earn a $1.5MM guarantee, and his contract comes with a $5MM club option or a $250K buyout. Santana can earn $500K in bonuses for days spent on the roster in 2020, and each roster bonus he triggers will boost the value of next that 2021 club option. In total, the deal can reportedly max out at two years and $7.5MM.

Domingo Santana | Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Still just 27 years old, Santana was an offensive force with the Brewers as recently as 2017, when he slashed .278/.371/.505 with 30 home runs and 29 doubles (good for a 126 OPS+ and 127 wRC+). However, Santana was the beneficiary of a .363 average on balls in play that year, punched out in nearly 30 percent of his plate appearances and played a below-average right field. It’s impossible to say whether those traits gave the Brewers concern about his ability to produce moving forward or whether the team simply found the value in a pair of marquee offseason acquisitions too great to pass up. Regardless, Santana was effectively pushed to a bench role the following year after Milwaukee traded for Christian Yelich and signed Lorenzo Cain to join Ryan Braun in the outfield.

The 2018 season wasn’t a great one for Santana. One can point to the fact that he was already a regression candidate or suggest that his newfound limited role was a difficult adjustment. Whatever the reason, Santana’s .265/.328/.412 slash through 235 plate appearances marked a substantial downturn. He was traded to the Mariners for Ben Gamel last winter.

In Seattle, Santana once again found himself in a near-regular role, and his production bounced back to an extent. In 507 plate appearances, he hit .253/.329/.441 with 21 homers, 20 doubles and a triple. It wasn’t the same level of pop that he displayed in 2017, but it was a nice bounceback effort all the same. Santana’s strikeout rate only worsened, though, as he fanned in 32.3 percent of his trips to the plate. And, his already shaky glovework bottomed out in 2019 when defensive metrics graded him as one of baseball’s worst defenders at any position (-17 Defensive Runs Saved, -16.1 Ultimate Zone Rating, -13 Outs Above Average).

Santana’s fit in Cleveland is admittedly something of a curious one, as the Indians already have an extremely similar player in Franmil Reyes. Both lumbering, defensively-challenged sluggers hit from the right side of the dish and profile better as a designated hitter than as an outfielder. Santana draws more walks and runs slightly better; Reyes has more power, strikes out a bit less and boasted 99th-percentile marks in exit velocity and hard-hit rate in 2019. Overall, they bring comparable skill sets to an already-crowded Indians outfield mix (though Reyes would seem to have more offensive upside).

Oscar Mercado should have center field locked down after a strong debut campaign in 2019, leaving Santana and Reyes as two options in the outfield corners. The problem is that right-handed-hitting Jordan Luplow is also in the corner mix, and his otherworldly production against lefties should at least ensure him a platoon role. Cleveland also acquired Delino DeShields Jr. — another right-handed bat — in the Corey Kluber salary dump. The switch-hitting Greg Allen is in the mix, too, as are lefty-swinging Jake Bauers, Bradley Zimmer and (once recovered from last year’s ACL tear) Tyler Naquin.

Santana is an affordable addition to the fray, to be sure, and there’s little doubt that he deepens the club’s reservoir of options in the corners and at DH. That said, it’s also not clear that Santana is an upgrade over what they already had in house.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Details On Mets’ Pursuit Of Francisco Lindor In December]]> 2020-02-08T13:24:16Z 2020-02-08T13:24:16Z The Mets were one of several teams reported to have interest in Francisco Lindor back when the Indians are seemingly testing the market for the All-Star shortstop earlier this winter.  Jeff McNeil was known to be one of Cleveland’s prime targets in talks with the Mets about Lindor, and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (subscription required) recently shed a bit more light on the “significant dialogue” between the Amazins and the Tribe.

“The Mets aggressively tried to acquire [Lindor] at the winter meetings,” Rosenthal writes, noting that it would “likely” have cost New York a three-player package consisting of Amed Rosario and two prospects.  Both this proposal and Cleveland’s interest in McNeil were too much for the Mets, however, and beyond the cost in trade chips, Rosenthal has also heard from some corners that “finances played a significant role” in negotiations.

Lindor’s salary for the 2020 season hadn’t yet been finalized by early December, though MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projected the shortstop for a $16.7MM payday in his second of three arbitration-eligible seasons.  As it happened, Lindor topped this projected number by agreeing to a $17.5MM deal for 2020, an even healthier raise than expected over the $10.55MM salary he earned in 2019.  Assuming Lindor has another outstanding year in the coming season, his arb number for 2021 now looks to fall in range of $23MM-$24MM.

Still, something in the neighborhood of $41MM over a two-year span is more than reasonable for a player of Lindor’s caliber.  The Mets were known to be trying to move Jeurys Familia and/or Jed Lowrie in order to create payroll space, and the club hasn’t made any hugely expensive acquisitions this winter, signing Dellin Betances, Rick Porcello, Michael Wacha, and Brad Brach to one-year contracts for a combined $25.6MM in guaranteed money (a total that could rise significantly based on options and incentive clauses in the various deals).

Taking on both a big salary and parting ways with controllable talent like Rosario, McNeil, or prospects was too much for the Mets’ liking, which isn’t an unreasonable stance.  McNeil, after all, has been outstanding in his two MLB seasons and Rosario is coming off the best of his three big league campaigns, with the 24-year-old starting to deliver on some of the potential that made him one of baseball’s best prospects.  That said, the overall crux of Rosenthal’s piece examines how the Mets are still feeling the impact of last offseason’s blockbuster trade with the Mariners, as the added salaries of Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz (who both struggled badly in 2019) have limited payroll flexibility, while moving top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn both thinned out New York’s farm system and also made the team seemingly more wary about moving any more of its top minor leaguers.

Had the Mets not swung that deal with Seattle, who knows how the Amazins’ fate could have changed both during the 2019 season or into their business this offseason, as New York could have been more willing to take the jump on a swap for Lindor or another trade target in Starling Marte (though the Pirates also put a high asking price on Marte in talks with the Mets).

To be fair, Rosenthal notes that as great a player as Lindor is, he “was a luxury item, not a must-have” for a Mets club that already had Rosario, plus top prospects Ronny Mauricio and Andres Gimenez coming up the pipeline at shortstop.  There’s also the fact that the Indians may not have been “especially motivated to act” on a Lindor trade, as the big returns Cleveland reportedly wanted in any potential deal indicated that the Tribe would only move Lindor if presented with a special offer.  The door now appears to be closed on the possibility of Lindor being dealt this winter, as Cleveland addressed their own payroll concerns by trading Corey Kluber to the Rangers.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Sign Cameron Rupp To Minor League Deal]]> 2020-02-07T18:11:39Z 2020-02-07T18:11:39Z The Indians have agreed to a minor league deal with former Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp, per a team announcement. The former Phillies backstop will be in Major League camp when Spring Training opens.

Rupp, 31, hasn’t been in the big leagues since the 2017 season. He’s bounced between the Triple-A affiliates for the Twins, Rangers, Mariners, Tigers and A’s over the past couple of seasons, hitting for some power but struggling to get on base or hit for average. That general description is well in line with the skill set that Rupp displayed with the Phillies from 2013-17, when he appeared in 296 games and hit .234/.298/.407 with 39 homers in 1127 plate appearances.

The Indians don’t have an immediate need for a backup option, as Sandy Leon was brought in to support starter Roberto Perez, who enjoyed a breakout 2019 season at the plate. The Cleveland organization is a bit thin on catching depth in the upper minors, though, so Rupp will give them an experienced option to pair with fellow offseason signee Beau Taylor in Triple-A Columbus if he shows well in Spring Training.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Indians Reportedly Nearing Deal With Domingo Santana]]> 2020-02-07T17:59:30Z 2020-02-07T05:01:40Z The Indians are reportedly closing in on a major league agreement with free-agent outfielder Domingo Santana, Paul Hoynes of relays. An announcement could take place sometime next week, but the deal’s pending a physical, according to Hoynes.

The Indians are in clear need of outfield help, but whether Santana will prove to be the solution is anyone’s guess. However, as recently as 2017 – a season he spent with the Brewers – Santana appeared to be a budding star. He slashed .278/.371/.505 with 30 home runs and 3.3 fWAR in 607 trips to the plate that year. Santana struggled the next season, though, and then the Brewers traded him to the Mariners in December 2018.

While Santana looked like an interesting pickup for rebuilding Seattle, he didn’t end up producing much in an M’s uniform. Although Santana’s season began well, a second-half elbow injury helped torpedo his numbers and limit him to an uninspiring .253/.329/.441 line with 21 homers in 507 PA. Worsening matters, Santana ranked as one of the game’s poorest outfielders, finishing with a minus-17 Defensive Runs Saved and a minus-16.1 Ultimate Zone Rating. His combination of so-so offense and disastrous defense held him to a replacement-level WAR output.

To Santana’s credit, he was a good defender as recently as 2018 (plus-6 DRS, plus-2.7 UZR). He’s also still just 27, and the Indians or any other team that signs Santana will be able to control him via arbitration through 2021. The Mariners could have done the same, but they elected to non-tender Santana in lieu of paying him a $4.4MM salary this year.

Should Santana join the Indians, he’d make for yet another flawed corner outfield possibility for the team. Aside from Jordan Luplow, whose solid production may have flown under the radar in 2019, there’s little in the way of clear answers for the club there. Franmil Reyes (perhaps like Santana) is probably better off as a designated hitter; Jake Bauers and Greg Allen offered subpar production last year; Tyler Naquin suffered a torn ACL in August and will miss some portion of 2020; and Bradley Zimmer barely played last season as a result of shoulder troubles.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Luis Rengifo Was Part Of Corey Kluber Talks]]> 2020-02-06T04:31:32Z 2020-02-06T04:31:32Z
  • Angels infielder Luis Rengifo appears to be on the verge of going to the Dodgers in a trade for outfielder Joc Pederson. It’s not the first time Rengifo’s name has come up in trade talks this offseason, though. Rengifo was part of the discussions between the Angels and Indians when the two teams were weighing a Corey Kluber swap back in December, per Paul Hoynes of The two clubs couldn’t come to an agreement, and the Indians ended up trading Kluber to the Rangers a few days later.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Francisco Lindor Addresses Future With Indians]]> 2020-02-02T01:19:55Z 2020-02-02T01:19:55Z Trade rumors have swirled around Francisco Lindor all winter, as the Indians’ moves to limit their payroll over the last 15 months have led to widespread speculation that Lindor will be dealt before he reaches free agency following the 2021 season.  Edwin Encarnacion’s three-year, $60MM deal from the 2016-17 offseason still stands as the largest contract in Indians franchise history, and since Lindor could certainly command four times that amount as a free agent, there has been a lot of doubt that he will remain in Cleveland over the long-term.

    Speaking to reporters (including’s Mandy Bell and the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes) at the TribeFest fan event today, Lindor said the Indians “haven’t offered me the right thing” in regards to a multi-year extension.  Such a contract doesn’t seem to be a pressing concern for Lindor at the moment, as he is in “no rush” to pursue an extension since he is still two years away from the open market:

    Is there a right number for me right now?  I haven’t really thought about it.  I’m not there yet. I’m going to worry about what I got in front of my toes.  A lot of money sounds pretty right now.  Everything sounds pretty.  A lot of years sound pretty, too.  At the end of the day, it’s about what’s best for me, my family, and also the Indians’ organization.”

    If they don’t think I can stay here because of the money situation, then I won’t be here.  But I do want to be in Cleveland.  I love the Indians, I love their fans.  The city has grown on me a lot.  When it is the right time to sign an extension?  I don’t know when it’s the right time.  God has a plan for me and my family and I truly believe in it.  What’s going to happen is going to happen.”

    In regards to the Tribe’s “money situation,” Lindor downplayed the idea that the club wasn’t able to afford him, pointing out “there’s money out there.  Our payroll was $120MM last year.  That’s money.”  That said, Lindor also acknowledged the team’s perspective on how payroll should be allocated: “The question is, is it the right time for each team…when are they going to spend the money?….Is it the right time for the Indians?  I don’t know.”

    To this end, Lindor seemingly implied that while he enjoys playing for the Indians, he isn’t pleased with being part of a club that one eye on the budget rather than a sole focus on being competitive.  “Wherever I go, I want to win,” Lindor said.  “I want to bring a championship to the city of Cleveland….It has nothing to do with the money.  It has nothing to do with the years.  It has nothing to do with who I like or who I don’t like.  It has to do with championships.  The front office tries to put a team together to win, not to save money.  They’re supposed to try to put a team together to win.  I’m here to try to win.”

    The Reds, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Padres, and Mets have all reportedly had interest in trading for Lindor this winter, though Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona have both stated that their team isn’t looking to deal the shortstop.  While a Lindor swap might not happen this offseason, the possibility can’t be ruled out for the trade deadline if the Indians aren’t in contention.  Of course, Cleveland traded Trevor Bauer last July even while still in contention, though the Indians had the pitching depth to make a Bauer deal more palatable, whereas there isn’t any way for the team to so easily replace Lindor’s usual All-Star level of production.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Indians Had Interest In Starling Marte]]> 2020-02-02T01:16:38Z 2020-02-01T23:57:51Z The Indians’ offseason has largely been dominated by the specter of cutting payroll (such as the Corey Kluber trade to the Rangers or the persistent trade rumors around Francisco Lindor) rather than major acquisitions, the team’s signing of Cesar Hernandez notwithstanding.  However, it seems as though the Tribe at least considered a significant addition, as Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that “the Indians were in on” Starling Marte before the Pirates dealt the center fielder to the Diamondbacks earlier this week.

    The nature of the Tribe’s offer to Pittsburgh isn’t known, though we can at least make a speculative comparison to what the Pirates received from the D’Backs — $250K in international bonus pool money, and two interesting but non-elite prospects (shortstop Liover Peguero and right-hander Brennan Malone) who are each at least two or three years away from reaching the majors.  Since the Bucs sent just $1.5MM in cash to Arizona as part of the deal, the D’Backs also took on almost all of the financial obligations for Marte, who is owed $11.5MM in 2020 and is controllable via a $12.5MM club option ($1MM buyout) for the 2021 season.

    It could be that the Pirates simply preferred Peguero and Malone to whatever prospects were floated by the Tribe, and that money wasn’t a primary difference between Cleveland’s offer and Arizona’s offer.  Still, assuming the finances would’ve broken down in a similar fashion, adding $10MM for Marte’s salary would’ve elevated the Indians’ 2020 payroll to a little beyond $106.5MM, as per Roster Resource.  That still represents a notable step down from the $150MM+ payrolls the Indians had at the end of the 2017 and 2018 seasons, or even the $129.3MM year-end payroll from 2019.  Since Marte’s 2021 option is likely to be exercised, Cleveland could have still found payroll room considering that Carlos Santana and Brad Hand could both come off the books via club options of their own, Hernandez is a free agent, plus who knows what other payroll space could be carved out by future trades (such as a Lindor deal).

    As Hoynes notes, the Tribe’s interest in Marte indicates that the team could still be willing to spend to upgrade its 26-man roster, whether such a move happens in the offseason or perhaps closer to the trade deadline.  Marte would have been a clear boost to Cleveland’s shaky outfield picture right now, though the Indians have enough outfielders in the mix that they might prefer to see which (if any) of those players steps up to become a reliable regular performer before looking at bringing any new players onto the roster.  Oscar Mercado currently looks like the only Tribe outfielder slated for true everyday duty, as Jake Bauers, Delino DeShields, Greg Allen, Jordan Luplow, Bradley Zimmer and (when he isn’t at DH) Franmil Reyes are all vying for regular playing time.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Scott Kazmir Launches Comeback Attempt]]> 2020-01-29T20:58:53Z 2020-01-29T20:36:14Z Three full seasons have elapsed since Scott Kazmir pitched in a Major League game, but the veteran left-hander is set to launch another comeback attempt at 36 years of age. Kazmir recently tweeted a video of himself throwing in a bullpen session, and the former Rays, Indians, Angels, A’s and Dodgers southpaw confirmed to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he hopes to return to the big leagues in 2020.

    Kazmir, who’s open to a minor league contract and a chance to prove himself in Spring Training (as he’d need to be after such a lengthy absence), tells Topkin he’s still in the process of rebuilding his arm strength and fastball velocity. He’s worked out with Driveline this winter and recently topped out at 90.9 mph in a bullpen session. That’s already a far sight higher than the 86 mph at which his heater sat when he first began throwing with an eye toward a big league return. Kazmir’s fastball sat at 91.4 mph in his final season with the Dodgers in 2016, so he’s not quite yet even topping out at his previous fastball average. However, he also has nearly two months before the season would begin.

    This, of course, wouldn’t be the first comeback attempt for Kazmir. The former Rays ace saw a sharp decline in 2009-10, pitched just 1 2/3 innings in 2011 and was out of affiliated baseball entirely in 2012 before embarking on a similar journey. That career renaissance proved quite fruitful, as Kazmir parlayed a minor league deal with the Indians into a quality 2013 campaign in which he tossed 158 innings of 4.04 ERA ball with better than a strikeout per inning.

    That showing landed him a two-year, $22MM deal with the A’s the following winter, and Kazmir made good on that deal as well, throwing a combined 373 1/3 frames of 3.33 ERA ball with the Athletics and (following a 2015 trade) the Astros. He headed into the 2015-16 offseason as a highly sought-after commodity and landed a three-year, $48MM pact with the Dodgers that proved regrettable for the club when neck and hip injuries wiped out years two and three of that pact.

    It’s been a long time since Kazmir was at the top of his game, but he’s nevertheless a three-time All-Star with six career seasons featuring a sub-4.00 ERA and at least 140 innings of work. In total, Kazmir has a 4.01 ERA with 8.6 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 1.01 HR/9 and a 40.2 percent ground-ball rate in 1689 2/3 innings at the MLB level. Given that the free-agent class has been largely picked over at this point in the winter, a returning Kazmir adds a source of genuine intrigue to the dwindling remnants of this year’s class of open-market starters.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Reds’ Trade Talks]]> 2020-01-28T19:07:17Z 2020-01-28T19:07:17Z We haven’t been alone in wondering whether the Reds’ slate of offseason moves set the stage for a major swap to bring in a high-end player. But that may not be in the plans, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription link).

    Notably, per the report, there have been some eyebrow-raising negotiations this winter. The Reds, Dodgers, and Indians discussed a deal that would’ve brought Corey Seager to Cincinnati and sent Francisco Lindor to L.A., with the Cleveland organization adding young talent. The Reds also held talks on scenarios in which they’d land Lindor.

    It’s always fun to hear of big names being tossed around, but in this case it doesn’t seem the chatter gained any traction. At the moment, per Rosenthal, “talks involving Lindor appear dormant.”

    That being said, adding two veteran outfielders to the mix certainly has created a crowded picture for the Reds. And the team is reportedly holding some talks regarding youngster Nick Senzel. From some angles, it still seems that further discussions could be sensible.

    Trouble is, Rosenthal notes, the Reds’ intervening signings have absorbed the payroll flexibility that might’ve been needed to land Lindor. While Seager is cheaper, it’s not at all clear that he’s really in play as the Dodgers pursue other opportunities.

    As ever, the situation can turn on a dime. And we’re certainly not seeing the entirety of the picture here. But it seems at minimum that the Reds did not ink Nick Castellanos with anything like a specific plan in place to pull off a corresponding trade. It’s equally true, though, that the Reds now have the flexibility — in young talent, if not payroll — to jump on an opportunity should one arise.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Free Agent Spending By Team: American League]]> 2020-01-25T01:22:17Z 2020-01-25T01:08:49Z As we covered earlier this week, almost all of the prominent free agents in this year’s class have already exited the board. Because of that, we’ll see more and more minor league signings and fewer and fewer major league deals in the weeks leading up to the start of the regular season. This has been an aggressive offseason in terms of spending, though. To this point, which teams have handed out the most guaranteed money via the open market? We’ll examine both leagues, but let’s begin with the AL (reminder: This exercise excludes trades, club options, extensions, waiver claims and Rule 5 selections)…

    Yankees: $336.5MM on two players (Gerrit Cole and Brett Gardner; top 50 MLBTR signings: two)

    Angels: $260.85MM on three players (Anthony Rendon, Julio Teheran and Jason Castro; top 50 signings: three)

    White Sox: $196.5MM on six players (Yasmani Grandal, Jose Abreu, Dallas Keuchel, Edwin Encarnacion, Steve Cishek and Gio Gonzalez; top 50 signings: five)

    Twins: $151.8MM on eight players (Josh Donaldson, Michael Pineda, Jake Odorizzi, Homer Bailey, Sergio Romo, Alex Avila, Rich Hill and Tyler Clippard; top 50 signings: four)

    Blue Jays: $114.35MM on four players (Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, Shun Yamaguchi and Travis Shaw; top 50 signings: two)

    Rangers: $62.25MM on five players (Kyle Gibson, Jordan Lyles, Robinson Chirinos, Joely Rodriguez and Todd Frazier; top 50 signings: two)

    Tigers: $17.8MM on four players (C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Austin Romine and Ivan Nova; top 50 signings: one)

    Astros: $15.65MM on three players (Joe Smith, Martin Maldonado and Dustin Garneau; top 50 signings: zero)

    Rays: $12MM on one player (Yoshitomo Tsutsugo; top 50 signings: zero)

    Red Sox: $9.9MM on three players (Martin Perez, Jose Peraza and Kevin Plawecki; top 50 signings: zero)

    Athletics: $7.5MM on one player (Jake Diekman; top 50 signings: zero)

    Royals: $6.95MM on two players (Alex Gordon and Maikel Franco; top 50 signings: zero)

    Indians: $6.25MM on one player (Cesar Hernandez; top 50 signings: zero)

    Orioles: $3MM on one player (Jose Iglesias; top 50 signings: zero)

    Mariners: $2.95MM on two players (Kendall Graveman and Carl Edwards Jr.; top 50 signings: zero)