MLB Trade Rumors » » Cleveland Indians 2017-12-12T00:03:45Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Rangers, Padres, Rockies Join Indians, Others In Pursuit Of Carlos Santana]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109304 2017-12-11T23:04:51Z 2017-12-11T23:04:36Z MONDAY, 5:04pm: The Padres have indeed discussed Santana, but “it seems they’re still focused on” Hosmer, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link).

1:51pm: The Rockies are also showing some interest in Santana, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post tweets. Colorado has a clear opening at first base, though the team has indicated its top priorities lie elsewhere.

10:27am: Cleveland’s top extension offer to Santana was three years and $36MM, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets, and the organization would “likely go higher” now that he’s on the open market.

SUNDAY, 9:00pm: The Indians made Santana a contract offer, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes reports.  While the offer wasn’t taken, the Tribe have been informed that they will get a chance to counter any offer Santana receives from another team that he considered acceptable.

6:32pm: Carlos Santana is already drawing quite a bit of interest this offseason, and Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer adds the Rangers and Padres to the list of other teams (including the Phillies, Red Sox, and Mariners) already linked to Santana on the rumor mill.

Texas is known to be focusing on adding pitching this winter, though the team’s offense also lacked some of the well-rounded attack of past years.  Santana would clearly be a big upgrade in the first base/DH hole left behind by free agent Mike Napoli, who struggled last year in a sub-replacement level season.  Santana’s arrival would bolster the Rangers’ lineup against the possible departure of Adrian Beltre after the 2018 season.

Installing Santana at first base would have a ripple effect throughout the Rangers’ lineup.  Joey Gallo would have to return to left field, with Nomar Mazara shifting to right and Shin-Soo Choo being limited to DH duties.  Top prospect Willie Calhoun had been mentioned as a possible candidate for regular DH or corner outfield duty, though Texas might want to give him a bit more seasoning rather than expect Calhoun to immediately contribute to a team that hopes to contend.

Previous reports seemed to downplay San Diego’s possible interest in Santana, though it could be that the Padres have since considered Santana for what seems to be an increasing desire to sign a first baseman.  The Padres have also had interest in Eric Hosmer, with the logic being that the 28-year-old Hosmer is young enough to still be productive in a few years when San Diego is theoretically finished with its rebuild.  Santana, by contrast, turns 32 in April, and while the slugger hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down, he wouldn’t have the luxury of the occasional DH rest day while playing for a National League team.

Adding a first baseman would necessitate shifting Wil Myers into a corner outfield role, though the Padres may see that as an acceptable tradeoff for adding offense.  The Padres finished at or near the bottom of most major offensive categories last year, so a proven above-average hitter like Santana (who hit .259/.363/.455 with 23 homers over 667 PA last year and has posted a 123 wRC+ over his career) would add some much-needed pop to the lineup.

Santana rejected the Indians’ qualifying offer, and thus the Rangers and Padres would each need to surrender some compensation to sign the first baseman.  Texas would give up their second-highest draft pick and $500K of international signing bonus money, while San Diego would only have to surrender its third-highest draft pick.

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Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Have Interest In Matt Adams]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109391 2017-12-11T17:26:06Z 2017-12-11T17:02:25Z
  • Fresh off of a non-tender by the Braves, first baseman Matt Adams has drawn interest from a few organizations, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Specifically, the Indians, Royals, and Nationals have all reached out to Adams’s representatives. While Cleveland and Kansas City could offer fairly significant roles to the left-handed hitter — who really is best utilized in a platoon capacity — the Nats unsurprisingly would consider him as a frequently used bench piece who might take some of the burden from Ryan Zimmerman. Atlanta was not able to find a taker for Adams before the tender deadline; he had projected to earn $4.6MM via arbitration, so it’d be surprising if he ended up receiving more than that on the open market. For the Indians, it seems, adding a player such as Adams would represent something of a “fallback,” as Crasnick terms it, if the team is unable to strike a new deal with Carlos Santana. MLBTR’s Kyle Downing just analyzed Santana’s free agent case and we have also rounded up the latest market chatter on one of the market’s top bats.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Mets Have Talked With Indians, Tigers About Trades For Second Baseman]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109142 2017-12-10T18:46:43Z 2017-12-10T01:02:55Z 7:02pm: The Tigers’ efforts to trade Kinsler have “intensified” of late, Katie Strang of The Athletic reports (subscription required and recommended). Moving Kinsler will be a key area of focus for Detroit during the upcoming week, Strang adds, given that the team has a full 40-man roster with Thursday’s Rule 5 draft approaching. The Tigers are slated to pick first in the draft, and dealing Kinsler by then would give them room to select a player with that choice.

    9:31am: According to Marc Carig of Newsday, the Mets have had talks about significant potential trades for Ian Kinsler of the Tigers and Jason Kipnis of the Indians. The Mets may also use the winter meetings to explore a deal with the Pirates for Josh Harrison, says Carig.

    At this point, Carig clarifies, it seems as though the Mets have had much more dialogue with the Tigers regarding Kinsler; however there’s “some skepticism about a deal getting done there”.

    It’s certainly no surprise to hear that a team with a need at second base has inquired on Kinsler. The last-place Tigers endured a rough first half last season that culminated in a decision to tear down and rebuild. Veterans J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton and Justin Verlander were all traded to different contending teams, and Detroit ultimately finished the season with just 64 wins. With no serious ability to contend next season, MLBTR’s Jeff Todd already pointed out that Kinsler seems like a prime trade candidate.

    While Kinsler finished 2017 with his worst full season by fWAR (2.4), he’s a solid bounceback candidate for a Mets team with plans to push for a pennant in 2018. Kinsler hit just .236/.313/.412 this past season, but was seemingly held back by some terrible luck with BABIP (.244). At 35, he’s no sure bet to return to previous form, but considering he combined for 9.8 fWAR between 2015 and 2016, acquiring Kinsler could be well worth the risk for the Mets.

    The news about talks for Kipnis are perhaps a bit more surprising. There’s been some speculation about Kipnis as a trade candidate this offseason; he’s coming off a down offensive year during which he hit just .232/.291/.414 and missed significant time due to shoulder and hamstring injuries, and he seems to have been displaced at the keystone by teammate Jose Ramirez. However, Kipnis is one of the more significant faces in the Indians franchise, and he’s been one of their best offensive players overall for the past half-decade. To this point, there’s been no indication from Cleveland’s camp that they’d be willing to trade Kipnis at all; the fact that they’ve had talks with the Mets about him seems to imply that they’re at least willing to explore trade scenarios.

    Of course, there’s no real word as to the extent of the trade talks surrounding Kipnis. The report that the Mets have had more dialogue about Kinsler and that such a deal is met with skepticism seems to imply that negotiations for Kipnis are far from advanced. It could be that the Mets were simply doing their due diligence, and that the Indians were willing to listen. Regardless, Kipnis being available to any extent would add an interesting new twist to a second base market that no longer includes Dee Gordon.

    While there’s not much word yet on the Mets’ reported interest in Harrison, he’d also be an upgrade to their current depth chart. Harrison has been a solid infielder for the Pirates over the past four seasons, and is capable of playing in the outfield and at third base as well. The Pirates haven’t yet signaled whether or not they’re making a push for contention, but if they decide to rebuild instead, Harrison would be one of the more obvious trade candidates. The 30-year-old is guaranteed $11.5MM for the remainder of his contract, which includes salary for 2018 season as well as buyouts for 2019 and 2020. Harrison hit .272/.339/.432 across 542 plate appearances for Pittsburgh last season.

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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Two Teams Have Made Offers To Bryan Shaw]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=107853 2017-12-09T17:10:17Z 2017-12-09T17:10:03Z Dec. 9th: Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets that the Mets made an offer to Shaw around Thanksgiving. Shaw, however, “might be inclined” to wait for closers Greg Holland and Wade Davis to sign in order to let the market for setup men establish itself.

    Nov. 25th: Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reports via Twitter that the Twins are not one of the teams that made an offer to Shaw, according to a source with “direct knowledge”.

    Nov. 24th: According to Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com, two separate teams have made multi-year offers to Indians free agent reliever Bryan Shaw. As of now, the identities of the two teams are not yet known.

    Hoynes notes that the Mets are reportedly among the teams that have shown interest in the right-hander. Shaw has spent the last five seasons with the Indians, during which time newly-minted Mets manager Mickey Callaway was his pitching coach.

    Shaw has long been one of baseball’s most durable relievers. Since coming to Cleveland in the three-team trade that sent Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds, the 6’1″ righty has logged at least 64 innings. During that time, he’s appeared in a major league-leading 378 games. That kind of consistency from a reliever is rare, making him a coveted asset in this year’s free agent crop. Shaw ranked 25th on this year’s iteration of MLBTR’s Top 50 Free Agents With Predictions. For what it’s worth, MLBTR picked Shaw to land with the Red Sox.

    Durability wasn’t the only reason Shaw earned a spot in the top 25, however. The former second-round draft pick of the Diamondbacks has a lifetime 3.13 ERA, and has never posted a full-season mark higher than this year’s 3.52. And yet, despite a career-high ERA, Shaw managed to post his highest-ever fWAR total for a single season in 2017 (1.6 fWAR). While his 0.65 WPA for the season doesn’t quite paint the same picture, it’s difficult to argue that Shaw has provided great value to the Tribe in a setup role.

    Shaw just turned 30 years old this month. It seems likely he’ll command at least a three-year contract.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Indians Could Pursue Non-Tendered Players]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108965 2017-12-08T02:51:34Z 2017-12-08T02:51:34Z
  • If the Indians don’t re-sign free agent first baseman Carlos Santana and outfielder Jay Bruce, the recently non-tendered Matt Adams could make sense as a first base/designated hitter option, Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com observes. Adams and Edwin Encarnacion would share the two positions, suggests Hoynes, who lists several other non-tendered players (Terrance Gore, Drew Smyly, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Jared Hughes, Hector Rondon and Bruce Rondon) as possible buy-low targets for the Indians.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Sign Dan Otero To Two-Year Deal]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108763 2017-12-05T18:21:16Z 2017-12-05T17:36:33Z The Indians announced today that they’ve extended right-handed reliever Dan Otero, agreeing to a two-year contract extension with a club option for a third year. The contract will buy out the ACES client’s final two years of arbitration eligibility and also give the team control over his first free-agent year. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports (via Twitter) that Otero will be guaranteed $2.5MM on the deal. He’ll earn $1.1MM in 2018, $1.3MM in 2019 and has a $1.5MM club option with a $100K buyout. Otero can also earn $100K annually in bonuses tied to games finished.

    Otero had already agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.3MM for the 2018 season this past Friday, so this new agreement will supersede that deal. It’s an eye-opener to see Otero agree to surrender a free-agent season for a minimal guarantee when he already had that deal in place, though it’s worth noting that arbitration deals like the one he agreed to last week aren’t fully guaranteed.

    This contract, though, will afford Otero at least $2.5MM — a sum he wouldn’t have thought possible prior to the 2016 season when he was an unheralded waiver claim by the Indians. Set to turn 33 in February and with just over $3MM in career earnings to date, it seems that Otero simply prioritized taking the best guarantee that Cleveland was willing to offer.

    While that’s not difficult to understand from a human perspective, the deal looks like a favorable one for the Indians from a baseball standpoint. Otero won’t blow anyone away with a fastball that averages just 90 mph, but he’s worked to an excellent 2.14 ERA in his 130 2/3 innings with Cleveland over the past two seasons. In that time, he’s averaged 6.5 K/9 against 1.3 BB/9 with just 0.6 HR/9 and a 63 percent ground-ball rate.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians, Michael Martinez Agree To Minor League Deal]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108661 2017-12-04T15:14:09Z 2017-12-04T15:14:09Z The Indians agreed to a minor league deal with infielder/outfielder Michael Martinez over the weekend, per FanRag’s Robert Murray (Twitter link). Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that a deal is expected to be announced “in the near future.” Martinez will receive an invite to Major League Spring Training.

    Martinez, 35, keeps finding his way back to Cleveland. This will be the third minor league deal he’s inked with the Indians, who have twice traded Martinez away only to claim him back off waivers shortly thereafter. In all, he’s spent parts of three seasons in the organization, hitting a combined .257/.289/.331 in 145 Major League plate appearances.

    Martinez has never hit much in the Majors, batting just .194/.243/.261 in 621 plate appearances between the Indians, Phillies, Rays, Pirates and Red Sox. He has experience at every position on the field outside of first base and catcher, though, so he’ll likely serve as a versatile depth option in Triple-A with the Indians to open the season. He’s a career .281/.333/.392 hitter at that level.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Indians Interested In Re-Signing Austin Jackson]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108635 2017-12-04T04:03:48Z 2017-12-04T04:03:48Z
  • The Indians are interested in a reunion with Austin Jackson “but at the right price,” according to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Jackson proved to be a big bargain for the Tribe in 2017, as he signed a minor league deal and then hit an outstanding .318/.387/.482 over 318 plate appearances while seeing time at all three outfield positions.  Jackson would bring a right-handed presence to a projected Cleveland outfield that currently features three left-handed hitters (Michael Brantley, Bradley Zimmer, Lonnie Chisenhall), though there’s certainly question as to whether Jackson can sustain his production, given his .385 BABIP from last season and his recent history of subpar offensive numbers.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Shohei Ohtani Rumors: Saturday]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108528 2017-12-03T02:00:28Z 2017-12-03T00:54:57Z The latest on game-changing Japanese ace/slugger Shohei Ohtani, whom the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters posted on Friday and who’s at the beginning of a three-week window to work out an agreement with a major league team:

    • The Ohtani sweepstakes is seemingly on the verge of picking up in earnest, as Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the 23-year-old CAA Sports client will meet with various teams in Los Angeles next week (Twitter link). The Mariners are among those clubs, suggests Passan, who relays that team brass has asked multiple members of its roster to clear their schedules for a potential meeting with Ohtani. That comes on the heels of general manager Jerry Dipoto’s revelation last week that the Mariners are preparing an aggressive push press for Ohtani. “We’re not joking around. We’re bringing the big guns,” declared Dipoto (Twitter link via Greg Johns of MLB.com).
    • Ohtani’s camp will notify certain teams this weekend if they’ll remain in the mix to sign him, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The Padres are hopeful they’ll advance to the next round. “As a group, we’re prepared, and I think he’s a player that obviously we’ve scouted and have history with,” GM A.J. Preller told Lin. “You try to see what the fits are and why he’s a good fit for us and why we’re a good fit for him. We’re kind of down the path of doing that work.”
    • The Red Sox will also chase Ohtani, per president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who told Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald via text: “Would acknowledge our interest. Beyond that, all would be confidential.” Ohtani joining Chris Sale and David Price would make for a rather enticing top of the rotation, needless to say, and he could also factor in as a designated hitter for a Boston club that received uninspiring production there last season in the first year of the post-David Ortiz era.
    • Count the World Series-winning Astros as yet another team that will court Ohtani. Owner Jim Crane told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com that the Astros will “put a full-court press on” to sign Ohtani, adding that they’ll “probably send the A-team out there.” He also noted that the Astros “need a left-handed DH, so there you have it.” In addition to having the ability to demonstrate his offensive prowess in Houston, Ohtani would add another potential front-end starter to a rotation that already includes past Cy Young winners Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel.
    • While the Rays are obvious long shots to land Ohtani, they have an advantage over other teams with the presence of two-way prospect Brendan McKay, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times observes. McKay, the fourth overall pick in last year’s draft, could be both a pitcher and a hitter in the majors. “We’re hopeful (McKay) can do it,” Rays GM Erik Neander said. “We want to give him the opportunity to do it because he’s shown he deserves that opportunity and we don’t want to take that away from him prematurely.” Citing McKay’s presence, the Rays will emphasize to Ohtani that they’re open-minded about developing and employing a two-way player, per Topkin, who also expects them to pitch Tampa Bay’s “relaxed” lifestyle during the recruiting process.
    • The Marlins, MLB’s other Florida-based organization, are unlikely to make an effort for Ohtani, Tim Healey of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. The cost-cutting Marlins are wary of the financial commitment it would take to reel in Ohtani, who won’t require much from a salary standpoint but will cost a $20MM posting fee. While that looks like a relatively minor amount for a possible franchise face like Ohtani, the Marlins simply aren’t in position to fork it over in their current financial state, Healey explains.
    • While the Indians only have $10K in international bonus pool space, they’re expected to partake in the Ohtani derby, per Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com. He’d slot into an already loaded rotation, one which features two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco; additionally, Ohtani could DH for a team at risk of losing Carlos Santana in free agency.
    • All things considered, the Yankees may be the favorites for Ohtani. There’s a general “fear” coming from other franchises regarding the Bronx Bombers, tweets Passan, given the talent on hand, the market they’re in and their strong relationship with CAA Sports. They also have the second-biggest international bonus pool.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: 12/1/17]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108362 2017-12-05T00:35:30Z 2017-12-02T01:05:54Z With the deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players set for 8pm tonight, there should be several agreements over the next few hours — particularly among players that were considered to be potential non-tender candidates. Many non-tender candidates will be presented with offers that are lower than what they’d project to earn via arbitration in a “take it or leave it” manner; some will agree to the lesser deal (as Brewers catcher Stephen Vogt did earlier this morning) while others will reject and likely hit the open market.

    Here’s today’s slate of players that have avoided the arb process and locked in at least a partial guarantee for the upcoming season (arbitration contracts are not fully guaranteed, but each of these players will be guaranteed one sixth of the agreed-upon sum unless specifically negotiated otherwise). All projections are via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz

    • The Padres announced that lefty Robbie Erlin has agreed to a contract for 2018. The 27-year-old missed all of 2017 due to Tommy John surgery and was projected to earn $700K through arbitration. Terms of his deal have not yet been reported.
    • The Braves appear to have agreed to terms with just-claimed righty Chase Whitley, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Whitley, who was projected to earn $1.0MM in his first season of arb eligibility, is said to be in line for an opportunity to work as a starter. It’s a split deal that would pay Whitley $800K in the majors, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets.
    • The Mariners agreed with Andrew Romine on a $1.05MM contract, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). Romine, a versatile infielder, was claimed off waivers after the end of the 2017 season.
    • Outfielder Abraham Almonte has reached a deal to avoid arbitration with the Indians, per a club announcement. He had featured as a possible non-tender candidate but instead found common ground with the organization. Almonte, 28, slashed just .233/.314/.366 in his 195 trips to the plate in 2017. He had projected to earn a $1.1MM payday in his first season of arbitration eligibility but will take home $825K, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter).
    • The Royals have agreed to terms with righty Mike Morin to avoid arbitration, the club announced. He’ll receive a split contract, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan tweets, with a $750K annual earning rate in the majors and $250K in the minors. Morin, who projected at $700K, drew a mention on MLBTR’s non-tender candidates list. Indeed, his contract reflects the middling season that he turned in. Morin allowed 16 earned runs in twenty MLB frames, though he was more effective at Triple-A.
    • Yimi Garcia and the Dodgers have avoided arbitration, per J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group (via Twitter). Garia projected to command only a $700K salary after missing all of 2017 following Tommy John surgery; he’ll end up taking home $630K, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). Now 27, Garcia had established himself as a significant member of the Dodgers’ bullpen in 2015, when he compiled a 3.34 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 over 56 2/3 innings. But injuries limited him in the ensuing season and ultimately culminated in a UCL replacement.
    • Per a club announcement, the Indians have agreed to a contract with righty Dan Otero. Otero will take home $1.3MM, per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (via Twitter). He was projected to command $1.4MM. The 32-year-old Otero has been an unmitigated bargain for Cleveland over the past two years, turning in 130 2/3 total innings of 2.14 ERA pitching despite averaging just 6.5 K/9 in that span. Otero has succeeded with unfailing command (just 19 walks since joining the Indians) and a hefty groundball rate (over 60% in each of the past two seasons).
    • The Angels and righty Blake Wood agreed to a one-year, $1.45MM deal that falls well shy of his $2.2MM projection, as FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman was the first to report (via Twitter). Wood struggled mightily in Cincinnati before being picked up by the Halos late in the year and turning his season around a bit. In 17 innings with the Angels, he posted a 4.76 ERA with a much more promising 22-to-4 K/BB ratio. Heyman notes that he can earn up to $50K worth of incentives as well.
    • The White Sox announced that they’ve signed right-hander Danny Farquhar to a one-year deal worth $1.05MM — a pact that falls shy of his $1.5MM projection. In 49 1/3 innings between the Rays and ChiSox, the 30-year-old logged a 4.20 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 5.1 BB/9 and a 41.7 percent ground-ball rate.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Agree To Minor League Deals With Neil Ramirez, Evan Marshall]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108239 2017-11-30T17:00:56Z 2017-11-30T16:38:01Z The Indians announced today that they’ve signed right-handed relievers Neil Ramirez and Evan Marshall to minor league contracts with invitations to Major League Spring Training. Cleveland also confirmed its previously reported signing of veteran outfielder Brandon Barnes to the same type of contract.

    Ramirez, 29 in May, split the 2017 seasons between the Giants and Mets, totaling 31 1/3 innings at the big league level. The former Rangers/Cubs prospect has long showed the ability to miss bats at the big league level and did so once again in 2017 (12.6 K/9), but he’s also been an extreme fly-ball pitcher with control issues and a susceptibility to home runs. Ramirez finished up the 2017 campaign with a 7.18 ERA and six homers allowed in those 31 1/3 frames. In 113 total innings at the MLB level, he’s worked to a 4.22 ERA but also averaged 4.9 walks per nine innings pitched.

    Marshall looked like a long-term cog in the D-backs’ bullpen with a brilliant 2014 debut, tossing 49 1/3 innings with a 2.74 ERA with 9.9 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 60.7 percent ground-ball rate with a fastball that averaged 93.9 mph. However, Marshall spent much of the 2015 season in Triple-A and suffered a frightening skull fracture when he was hit by a comebacker in September shortly after returning to the Majors.

    His 2016-17 seasons produced middling results, and he’s posted an overall 7.93 ERA in 36 1/3 innings with a 20-to-18 K/BB ratio. Marshall spent the 2017 campaign with the Mariners but was limited to 7 2/3 innings, partially due to a hamstring injury, before being outrighted off the 40-man roster and electing minor league free agency at season’s end.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians, Brandon Barnes Agree To Minor League Deal]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108058 2017-11-27T21:42:34Z 2017-11-27T21:42:34Z
  • Outfielder Brandon Barnes is joining the Indians on a minor league contract, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. The PSI Sports Management client hit .276/.331/.420 with Miami’s Triple-A affiliate last season but didn’t appear in the Majors — his first season without big league action since splitting the 2011 season between Double-A and Triple-A. The 31-year-old Barnes has drawn considerably above-average reviews for his work in the outfield, per Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating, but he’s a career .242/.289/.356 hitter. Barnes can play all three outfield spots and could conceivably fill a role similar to the one Austin Jackson held in Cleveland last year, but although he’s a right-handed bat, he lacks Jackson’s track record against left-handed pitching.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Brewers Claim Dylan Baker From Indians]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108048 2017-11-27T19:53:14Z 2017-11-27T19:53:14Z The Brewers announced that they’ve claimed righty Dylan Baker off waivers from the Indians. Baker was designated for assignment last week as part of Cleveland’s slew of moves in advance of the deadline to set 40-man rosters in advance of the Rule 5 Draft.

    The 25-year-old Baker hasn’t pitched much since the 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery and other injuries. The 2012 fifth-rounder has tossed just 21 1/3 innings across three levels in the past three minor league seasons combined, though he’s posted a 3.58 ERA in 241 2/3 innings in his minor league career when healthy. With Baker’s addition, the Brewers now have a full 40-man roster.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Claim Kyle Crockett From Indians]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108047 2017-11-27T19:50:09Z 2017-11-27T19:50:09Z The Reds announced on Monday that they’ve claimed left-handed reliever Kyle Crockett off waivers from the Indians. Crockett, 25, was designated for assignment in Cleveland last week as the team set its 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 Draft.

    Crockett was a fourth-round pick back in 2013 and was the first player from that draft class to reach the Majors, debuting in 2014. While he turned in a promising 1.80 ERA with 8.4 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 in 30 innings that season, he’s struggled to a 4.84 ERA with 8.7 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 in 35 1/3 big league innings since then. To his credit, Crockett has allowed just a minuscule three homers in 65 1/3 MLB innings and has held lefties to a .614 OPS in 167 plate appearances. Righties have knocked him around at a .280/.373/.452 clip, though.

    The addition of Crockett fills Cincinnati’s 40-man roster.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Sign Leonel Campos, Jeff Beliveau To Minors Deals]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=107746 2017-11-22T22:58:03Z 2017-11-22T22:58:03Z
  • The Indians announced that they’ve signed left-hander Jeff Beliveau, right-hander Leonel Campos and infielder Drew Maggi to minor league contracts with invitations to Major League Spring Training. Both Beliveau and Campos pitched out of the Blue Jays’ bullpen in 2017. The 30-year-old Beliveau tossed 15 2/3 innings and struggled to a 7.47 ERA, though he racked up 17 strikeouts against six walks in that time. Beliveau threw 24 excellent innings for the Rays in 2014 but has seen his career slowed by shoulder surgery. As for Campos, the 30-year-old posted a 2.63 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings with Toronto last year but also walked eight in that time. He’s averaged 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings in Triple-A but has also battled control issues. As for Maggi, the 28-year-old hit .271/.367/.392 in 298 Triple-A plate appearances with the Dodgers last year and owns a lifetime .272/.362/.385 batting line at that level.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Claim Rob Refsnyder, Designate Kyle Crockett & Dylan Baker]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=107549 2017-11-20T22:23:49Z 2017-11-20T22:06:17Z The Indians announced today that they’ve claimed infielder/outfielder Rob Refsnyder off waivers from the Blue Jays and designated left-hander Kyle Crockett and Dylan Baker for assignment. Cleveland has also selected the contracts of right-hander Julian Merryweather and infielders Willi Castro, Yu Chang and Eric Stamets. That series of moves fills the Indians’ 40-man roster and leaves the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster at a total of 33 players.

    The 26-year-old Refsnyder split the 2017 season between the Yankees (who originally drafted him in 2012) and the Blue Jays but struggled to a composite .170/.247/.216 slash line. While Refsnyder has long turned in intriguing offensive stats in the minors, he’s batted just .233/.306/.311 in 320 big league plate appearances. At one point, Yankees fans hoped that Refsnyder could hold down the team’s second base job in the Majors, but he’s now split his time fairly equally between second, first base and left field in the Majors.

    Crockett, 25, was a fourth-round pick back in 2013 and was the first player from that draft class to reach the Majors, debuting in 2014. While he turned in a promising 1.80 ERA with 8.4 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 in 30 innings that season, he’s struggled to a 4.84 ERA with 8.7 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 in 35 1/3 big league innings since then. To his credit, Crockett has allowed just a minuscule three homers in 65 1/3 MLB innings and has held lefties to a .614 OPS in 167 plate appearances. Righties have knocked him around at a .280/.373/.452 clip, though.

    Baker, 25, has scarcely pitched since the 2015 season due to injuries, including Tommy John surgery. The 2012 fifth-rounder has tossed just 21 1/3 innings across three levels in the past three minor league seasons combined, though he’s posted a 3.58 ERA in 241 2/3 innings in his minor league career when healthy.

    Chang (No. 4), Castro (No. 9) and Merryweather (No. 12) each ranked within the Indians’ top 30 prospects, according to Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Several Indians Have Drawn Trade Interest This Month]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=107443 2017-11-21T20:54:06Z 2017-11-19T17:27:28Z While it’s unclear if any deals will materialize, a slew of Indians drew trade interest at this month’s general managers meetings, according to Terry Pluto of cleveland.com. Specifically, teams inquired about a few Indians pitchers – including right-handers Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger – as well as catchers Roberto Perez and Yan Gomes. Clubs also approached the Tribe about a couple less heralded members of the organization in outfielder Greg Allen and minor league righty Shane Bieber, Pluto adds. Of those players, it’s clear Carrasco would warrant the largest return, but there’s no reason for the Indians to move him. Conversely, the Tribe would be open to dealing either Perez or Gomes, Pluto suggests, considering the team has high-end prospect Francisco Mejia waiting in the wings behind those two.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[All 9 Recipients Reject Qualifying Offer]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=107030 2017-11-16T22:16:08Z 2017-11-16T22:16:03Z THURSDAY: Officially, all nine players have rejected their qualifying offers and become free agents, the MLBPA has announced (h/t Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, on Twitter).

    MONDAY: All nine of the free agents that received a one-year, $17.4MM qualifying offer will reject that offer in favor of free agency, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports writes. Each of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, Greg Holland and Carlos Santana will turn down that one-year opportunity in search of a multi-year pact in free agency.

    In doing so, that group of nine will also subject themselves to draft-pick compensation and position their former clubs to recoup some value in next year’s amateur draft should they sign elsewhere. Last offseason’s new collective bargaining agreement altered the specifics of that compensation, tying the draft picks received and surrendered largely to the luxury tax threshold, revenue sharing and the size of the contract signed by the free agent in question.

    MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes explained which draft picks each of the six teams that issued a qualifying offer would receive, should their free agents sign elsewhere, as well as which picks all 30 teams would be required to surrender if they are to sign a qualified free agent. Prior to that, MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk provided a more comprehensive and in-depth overview of the new QO system, for those that are unfamiliar or would like a refresher on the finer details.

    It’s been reported for quite some time that Kansas City will make a strong effort to retain Hosmer. Heyman added over the weekend that the Royals will also push to keep Moustakas but feel that Cain is almost certain to land elsewhere on the open market. The Rockies are known to have interest in re-upping with Holland on a multi-year deal, and Heyman notes within today’s column that the Rays “understand [Cobb] is out of their reach financially” and will sign elsewhere. He also adds that Davis seems to be likelier than Arrieta to return to Chicago.

    It’s unlikely that there will be any formal announcements just yet. Among the changes to the QO system under the 2017-21 CBA was that QO recipients would have 10 days, rather than seven, to determine whether to accept or reject the offer. The deadline to issue QOs was last Monday, so the recipients still technically have until this coming Thursday to formally declare their intention. But, barring a last-minute freak injury it seems that each of the nine will go the widely expected route and enter free agency in search of the most substantial contracts in their respective careers.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Corey Kluber, Max Scherzer Win Cy Young Awards]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=107243 2017-11-16T00:20:25Z 2017-11-15T23:54:18Z Indians ace Corey Kluber and Nationals ace Max Scherzer have been named the Cy Young Award winners in their respective leagues, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced tonight. Scherzer has now won back-to-back Cy Young Awards and three total in his career after receiving 27 of the 30 first-place votes. (Clayton Kershaw received the other three first-place votes.) It’s the second AL Cy Young nod for Kluber, who won in even more convincing fashion with 28 of 30 first-place votes. (Chris Sale received the other two first-place votes in the AL.)

    Corey Kluber | Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

    Kluber, who also took home the award back in 2014, rode a blistering hot finish to his second career Cy Young honor. The 31-year-old missed nearly all of May after going on the DL early that month with a lower back strain. At the time of Kluber’s DL placement, he carried a 5.06 ERA through his first six appearances on the season.

    The Kluber of old resurfaced upon returning from injury, though. In his first appearance upon activation, Kluber fired six innings of shutout ball with two hits, one walk and 10 strikeouts. From that point forth, he went on an otherworldly hot streak, pitching to an immaculate 1.62 ERA with a 224-to-23 K/BB ratio that looked more like something one would see in MLB: The Show than in real life. All told, Kluber wrapped up his season with an AL-best 2.25 ERA through 203 2/3 innings. Kluber also led the American League in complete games (five), shutouts (three) and walks per nine innings (1.6) while averaging 10.3 punchouts per nine frames as well.

    Sale took not only the other two first-place votes but 28 second-place votes, meaning that he and Kluber were first or second on all 30 ballots. Luis Severino finished a distant third place, while Carlos Carrasco, Justin Verlander, Craig Kimbrel, Ervin Santana and Marcus Stroman rounded out the ballot.

    Max Scherzer | Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

    As for Scherzer, the 33-year-old topped 200 innings for the fifth consecutive season and led the National League in strikeouts for the second consecutive year. His gaudy 2.51 ERA and 12.0 K/9 rates were both career-bests, and he’s now made at least 30 starts in the past nine seasons after taking the hill 31 times this season.

    Unlike Kluber, Scherzer was dominant from day one in 2017. Remarkably, there was only one point throughout the entire season where Scherzer’s ERA crept above 3.00; on May 20, he yielded three runs in five innings to bump his ERA to 3.02. From that point forward, Scherzer was virtually unhittable, posting a 2.30 ERA over his final 141 innings and at one point whiffing at least 10 hitters in six straight outings.

    Kershaw received 25 of the 30 second-place votes, while Zack Greinke and Scherzer’s teammate, Stephen Strasburg, each took home a second-place vote as well. Strasburg wound up finishing in third place, with Greinke taking fourth and Kenley Jansen landing fifth overall in the balloting. Yet another Nats starter Gio Gonzalez, came in sixth place overall, giving the Nats three of the top six in the NL. Robbie Ray, Jacob deGrom, Jimmy Nelson and Alex Wood each collected an odd fourth- or fifth-place vote here and there, rounding out the ballot in that order.

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Early Markets For Santana, Morrison Taking Shape]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=107054 2017-11-14T20:58:23Z 2017-11-14T19:40:44Z TODAY: The early interest in Santana is robust, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag, who writes that Santana “is thought to be drawing interest from as many as 10 teams.”

    Among those reaching out to his representatives, per Heyman, are the Angels as well as two eyebrow-raising NL East clubs: the Mets and Phillies. The New York franchise has had its moments of frustration with Dominic Smith, though it would remain surprising to see him blocked entirely by a player that likely can’t be utilized anywhere other than first base. Mike Puma of the New York Post does tweet, though, that the club could send Smith back to Triple-A and eventually shop him. And the Phillies would appear to be set at first with Rhys Hoskins, though he could in theory be shifted to the corner outfield after experimenting there last year. (Of course, the team has other young players in the outfield and indications are that the preference is not to disturb that mix.)

    YESTERDAY: The Red Sox have an obvious hole at first base in their lineup, and they’re set to begin the preliminary stages of filling that vacancy at this week’s GM Meetings. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets that Boston will sit down with Carlos Santana’s agents at Octagon, while Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports that the Sox have also lined up a meeting with Logan Morrison’s representatives at ISE Baseball.

    Boston isn’t alone in eyeing that pair, however. Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports that the Angels are considering a run at Morrison as they look to add some left-handed punch to their lineup. Morrison is one of multiple players on Anaheim’s radar, Fletcher notes.

    Meanwhile, the Mariners have interest in bringing Santana into the fold, according to MLB.com’s Jon Morosi (on Twitter). There have yet to be any “substantial” discussions between the two sides, Morosi cautions (as one would expect this early in the offseason), but first base is a definite area of need for the Mariners. Seattle saw both Yonder Alonso and Danny Valencia hit free agency when the season ended, and while Dan Vogelbach represents an internal option, he’s not considered to be a strong defender.

    Santana, 32 in April, is widely considered to be one of the best first basemen available on the free-agent market this offseason. While he wouldn’t necessarily provide the huge power bat that many Sox fans covet — he belted a career-high 34 homers in 2016 but saw that mark fall to a more typical 23 homers in 2017 — Santana is an on-base machine who has also worked himself into one of the premier defensive first basemen in the league.

    A switch-hitter, Santana batted .259/.363/.455 this past season and has never posted an OBP south of .351 in a season. Santana has walked at a 15.2 percent clip in his career against just a 17 percent strikeout rate (13.2 percent and 14.1 percent, respectively, in 2017). Originally a catcher, Santana eventually moved off the position to first base and has built up a quality reputation there. He was a Gold Glove finalist this past season after registering a +10 Defensive Runs Saved mark and a +4.8 Ultimate Zone Rating. The Indians made a qualifying offer to Santana, so he’d cost the Red Sox their second-highest pick in next year’s draft as well as $500K of their international signing pool. The Mariners would have a lighter penalty, only surrendering their third-highest pick.

    As for Morrison, he’s a younger option that’ll play most of next season at the age of 30. A longtime top prospect, Morrison’s career never fully took off as hoped in either Miami or in Seattle. However, he rebounded from a slow start with the Rays last year to hit .275/.350/.498 with 14 homers over his final 303 plate appearances before a wrist injury ended his season.

    Morrison returned to the Rays as a free agent on a one-year, $2.5MM contract this past offseason and proved to be one of the top bargains in all of baseball. In 601 plate appearances, Morrison posted a .246/.353/.516 line and 38 homers while receiving slightly above-average marks from DRS and UZR himself (+1 from each metric). He doesn’t come with the platoon issues that many left-handed hitters carry, either, as he hammers right-handed opponents and has been a bit above average against lefties over the past two years. Including his strong finish in 2016, Morrison has raked at a .256/.352/.510 pace (130 wRC+) with an 11.8 percent walk rate and a 23.1 percent strikeout rate in 904 plate appearances.

    Despite that huge season, the budget-conscious Rays opted not to extend a QO to Morrison. Tampa Bay had already extended a QO to righty Alex Cobb and surely didn’t relish the notion of taking the risk, however small, of two players accepting one-year salaries worth $17.4MM. Morrison now benefits from that decision, though, as he won’t require interested parties to surrender a draft pick or international money upon signing.

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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Poll: Which Of These Prospects Is Most Likely To Be Traded?]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106922 2017-11-12T02:35:31Z 2017-11-11T22:22:57Z During the offseason, rumors about major league players dominate the headlines. Fans and analysts alike discuss potential landing spots for major league free agents and trade candidates. With so much of the focus on big name MLB players, the subject of which top prospects could change hands falls into the background.

    The players below are some of the most valuable trade assets in the game who have not yet lost their rookie eligibility. MLB Pipeline considers each of them to be among the top 25 prospects in baseball. They all play for teams that are firmly in “win now mode”. Indeed, all five of them belong to teams that finished with a top four record in baseball last season. It’s safe to say that, were they to dangle their respective prospects as trade bait, each of those teams could fill nearly any need on their big league roster.

    Victor Robles, OF (No. 2 Overall Prospect): Nationals

    The Nationals signed Victor Robles out of the Dominican Republic at age 16, and he’s met little resistance throughout his development. The Nats promoted him to the majors for the first time in September of 2017; he even made the club’s NLDS roster. In his 24 regular season at-bats, Robles managed six hits, including three for extra bases. The Nationals are in need of another starting pitcher, and the 20-year-old outfielder could easily bring back an elite arm. Washington’s outfield picture for 2018 seems reasonably clear, with Adam Eaton, Michael Taylor and Bryce Harper all under contract and Brian Goodwin as a solid fourth outfielder option. However, Robles is practically major league-ready right now, so it might not make much sense to trade him when he could easily contribute this season. eIt’s especially important to note that Eaton, Taylor and Harper all dealt with injuries last season. With that in mind, the Nationals might prefer to deal their second-best prospect, outfielder Juan Soto, instead.

    Kyle Tucker, OF (No. 7 Overall Prospect): Astros

    Houston took Tucker out of H.B. Plant High School in Tampa, FL with the fifth pick in the 2015 draft. The young outfielder proceeded to rocket through the club’s minor-league system, reaching the Double-A level midway through 2017. Tucker’s hit tool is one of the best among minor-leaguers, but the Astros already have other left-handed outfield options at the major league level. Josh Reddick and Derek Fisher both bat primarily from the left side, while George Springer, Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Marisnick figure to be ahead of Tucker on the depth chart heading into 2018 as well. That’s not to say that Tucker isn’t more talented than those players, but it seems like a lot would have to happen for him to stumble into significant playing time next season. On the other hand, the Astros don’t have a clear hole on the major league roster outside of the bullpen, and Tucker is far too valuable to trade for a reliever. The organization has also reportedly been stingy about trading any of their top prospects lately, so perhaps it’s unlikely we’ll see him moved.

    Francisco Mejia, C (No. 13 Overall Prospect): Indians

    Mejia’s development has been a somewhat slow process; the Indians signed him out of the Dominican Republic all the way back in 2012. However, he’s vaulted up prospect lists after incredible success across the past two seasons, including a 50-game hit streak during the 2016 campaign. The best catching prospect in baseball is only 21 and has an elite hit tool from both sides of the plate. Cleveland decided to give him a bit of seasoning at the major league level this past September, which seems to imply that they think he could be close to MLB-ready. The Indians already have catchers Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez under contract for the foreseeable future, so Mejia could be a good candidate to be exchanged for help at first base if Carlos Santana signs elsewhere. But the Indians are also testing Mejia out at third base in the Arizona Fall League, a position he could more easily claim on the Tribe’s roster at some point in 2018.

    Triston McKenzie, RHP (No. 20 Overall Prospect): Indians

    After McKenzie struck out 157 batters in 91 innings during his senior year in high school, Cleveland selected the right-hander in Competitive Balance Round A of the 2015 draft. The lanky 20-year-old stands at 6’5″ and throws his fastball in the low 90s, though most scouts believe he could pick up even more velocity as he grows stronger. McKenzie struck out double-digit batters in six different games at the High-A level in 2017, including a 14-strikeout effort on May 9th. Overall, the Royal Palm Beach High School product pitched to a 3.45 ERA (and a 2.67 FIP) while punching out 11.71 batters per nine innings. With the Tribe’s window of contention seemingly at its peak, and McKenzie highly unlikely to reach the majors in 2018, the righty could potentially end up being an excellent trade chip. Even if the young righty were MLB-ready, the Indians already have a stacked rotation that will include Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and two of Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin and Mike Clevinger. McKenzie could be dangled for help at first base (should Santana depart), or elite bullpen help such as Brad Hand or Felipe Rivero.

    Alex Verdugo, OF (No. 23 Overall Prospect): Dodgers

    The Dodgers took Verdugo in the second round of the 2014 draft, and the left-handed outfielder has done well at every level of the minors. His power isn’t prolific and his speed is average, but his hit tool is excellent. Verdugo is patient at the plate and is great at hitting to the opposite field. While fellow Dodgers prospect Walker Buehler is excluded from this list due to his proximity to the majors and a fairly clear opening in LA’s rotation, Verdugo could be more of a luxury than a vital asset. Chris Taylor and Yasiel Puig are set to man center field and right field, respectively, and it’s unclear whether the Dodgers are ready or willing to give up on Joc Pederson yet, especially following a strong postseason performance. Verdugo could potentially be used to land a strong second baseman. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that he could be used to acquire a more proven outfielder, either. Still, the Dodgers have four other top 100 prospects outside of Buehler and Verdugo. Even if they attempt to make a blockbuster trade during the offseason, they might prefer to move someone a bit further away from the majors.

    What do you think? Which of these top 25 prospects is most likely to be with another organization by the time spring training rolls around? (Poll link for app users)

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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Central Notes: Santana, DeJong, Cubs]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106906 2017-11-11T16:35:11Z 2017-11-11T15:10:05Z Although outgoing Royal Eric Hosmer is a clear bet to take home the largest contract among first basemen this winter, Travis Sawchik of Fangraphs suspects that career Indians first baseman Carlos Santana will outperform Hosmer for at least the next three years. While Hosmer is younger than Santana and had a better 2017 season by fWAR, Sawchik notes that Santana’s primary skill (his batting eye) is a better bet to age well than any other skill that either player brings to the table. Hosmer has also posted negative fWAR totals in two of his major league seasons; something Santana has never done. Worth mentioning: Santana was worth a total of 21.2 fWAR from 2011-2017, while Hosmer was worth a mere 9.9.

    Elsewhere across baseball’s central divisions…

    • The offseason for Cardinals’ shortstop Paul DeJong will be an interesting one. As CBS2’s Steve Overmyer reported from New York on Thursday, DeJong has joined renowned scientist Dr. Lawrence Rocks in a lab study about the effects of heat and weather on baseball flight distance. Early returns in the study seem to indicate that while baseballs are likely to travel shorter distances as temperatures get colder, they are also likely to travel shorter distances if temperatures increase past a certain point. “As you decrease temperature, you get less bounce, like an automobile tire on a very cold day – it’s a little more brittle,” Rocks said. “As you increase temperature, the elastomeres get a little mooshy; you get less bounce.”
    • While Cubs GM Jed Hoyer has declined to comment on his team’s pursuit of Shohei Ohtani, Patrick Mooney of NBC Sports Chicago suggests a plan of attack for the team in trying to acquire the Japanese ace. While bringing an end to “The Curse” is no longer a selling point (as it may have been to Jon Lester and some others, according to Mooney), Chicago still has plenty to offer as a city. Hoyer will be working hard to put together a more attractive pitch to Ohtani and his agents than the other 29 MLB teams that will be vying for the two-way star’s services.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Bruce Could Be Too Expensive For Indians]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106808 2017-11-10T01:49:27Z 2017-11-09T22:22:29Z
  • Jay Bruce’s camp is reportedly setting its sights high and asking for a five-year deal worth $80-90MM, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported yesterday. High asking price notwithstanding, Heyman reports today in his weekly notes column that the Blue Jays, Giants, Mariners and Cardinals are four potential landing spots for Bruce in free agency. Heyman notes that Bruce should be able to comfortably land a three-year commitment that could price him out of the comfort zones of the Mets and the Indians.
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    Tim Dierkes <![CDATA[Examining Draft Pick Compensation For The 6 Teams That Could Lose Qualified Free Agents]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106730 2017-11-09T00:53:16Z 2017-11-08T22:30:35Z Six different teams made qualifying offers to free agents this winter.  Assuming the nine players turn down the one-year, $17.4MM offer, here’s what each of those teams stands to gain in draft pick compensation.

    [Related: Offseason Primer: The New Qualifying Offer Rules]

    Cubs

    The Cubs made qualifying offers to right-handers Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis.  The Cubs were neither a revenue sharing recipient nor a competitive balance tax payor.  Therefore, regardless of the size of the contracts Arrieta and Davis sign, the Cubs will receive draft pick compensation after Competitive Balance Round B, which takes place after the second round.

    Cardinals

    The Cardinals made a qualifying offer to starter Lance Lynn.  Like the Cubs, they were neither a revenue sharing recipient nor a competitive balance tax payor.  Regardless of the amount Lynn signs for, the Cardinals will receive draft pick compensation after Competitive Balance Round B.

    Royals

    The Royals made qualifying offers to center fielder Lorenzo Cain, first baseman Eric Hosmer, and third baseman Mike Moustakas.  The Royals were a revenue sharing recipient.  If any of their three free agents sign for a guarantee of $50MM or more, the Royals get draft pick compensation after the first round.  For any of the three that signs for less than $50MM, the Royals get draft pick compensation after Comp Round B.  MLBTR projects all three players to sign for well over $50MM, so the Royals should have a very favorable draft pool in 2018, potentially adding three picks in the top 35 or so if all three sign elsewhere.

    Rays

    The Rays made a qualifying offer to right-hander Alex Cobb.  They were a revenue sharing recipient and are subject to the same rules as the Royals, Rockies, and Indians.  However, Cobb is a borderline free agent when it comes to a $50MM contract, in our estimation.  The team will be rooting for him to reach that threshold, as the Rays would then net a compensatory pick after the first round.  If Cobb falls shy of that total guarantee, the Rays will receive an extra pick after Comp Round B.

    Rockies

    The Rockies made a qualifying offer to closer Greg Holland.  They were a revenue sharing recipient and are subject to the same rules as the Royals, Rays, and Indians.  Holland, too, is a borderline $50MM free agent, though he certainly figures to aim higher than that in the early stages of free agency.  If he reaches $50MM+, the Rox will get a pick after the first round.  If not, they’ll receive a pick after Comp Round B.

    Indians

    The Indians made a qualifying offer to first baseman Carlos Santana.  They were a revenue sharing recipient and are subject to the same rules as the Royals, Rays, and Rockies.  Santana is another borderline $50MM free agent in our estimation, but it’s certainly possible he clears that threshold and nets Cleveland a pick after the first round.

    So, the Cubs and Cardinals already know where their draft-pick compensation will land if their qualified free agents sign elsewhere: after Competitive Balance Round B, which currently starts with pick No. 76.  The Royals, Rays, Rockies, and Indians will all be rooting for their free agents to sign for at least $50MM, granting them compensation after the first round, which begins with pick No. 31.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 11/7/17]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106647 2017-11-07T14:36:10Z 2017-11-07T14:36:10Z After a busy transactional day yesterday, let’s catch up on some of the latest minor moves:

    • Catcher Bryan Holaday and outfielder Alex Presley have elected free agency from the Tigers, Evan Woodberry of MLive.com reports on Twitter. Each of the veterans was outrighted recently, though Woodberry hints that Detroit has interest in bringing both back on minors deals. Holaday will enter the pool of catchers that are looking for opportunities to compete for reserve jobs in camp. The 32-year-old Presley should also draw attention from other organizations; he turned in 264 plate appearances of .314/.354/.416 hitting in 2017.
    • The Rockies selected the contract of outfielder Noel Cuevas, per a club announcement. Acquired from the division-rival Dodgers in the trade that sent Juan Nicasio to Los Angeles, Cuevas blossomed at Triple-A Alburquerque in 2017. Across 528 plate appearances, he posted a .312/.353/.487 slash with 15 long balls and 16 steals.
    • Two players were also added to the Yankees 40-man roster, the club announced. Outfielder Jake Cave is one of them; the one-time Rule 5 pick won’t be eligible for the draft again this year. He turned in a compelling season in the upper minors, including a robust .324/.367/.554 batting line with 15 long balls in 297 Triple-A plate appearances. Joining him is righty Nick Rumbelow, who returned from Tommy John surgery with aplomb last year. Over 40 1/3 innings, he allowed just five earned runs on 21 hits while racking up a 45:11 K/BB ratio.
    • The Indians selected the contract of Eric Haase, per the MLB.com transactions page. The 24-year-old backstop knocked around Double-A pitching to the tune of a .258/.349/.574 batting line and 26 homers through 381 plate appearances.
    • Cuban catcher Lorenzo Quintana is joining the Astros for a $200K bonus, per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). The 28-year-old is not subject to international signing restrictions. Quintana was long one of the most productive receivers in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, carrying a lifetime .310/.377/.438 batting line, but he last played there in the 2014-15 season.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Will Make Qualifying Offer To Carlos Santana]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106575 2017-11-07T15:47:37Z 2017-11-06T20:48:16Z TThe Indians will extend a one-year, $17.4MM qualifying offer to first baseman Carlos Santana, reports FanRag’s Jon Heyman (on Twitter). Santana will have 10 days to determine whether to accept or reject that $17.4MM contract. If he rejects, any club that signs him this winter will forfeit a draft pick (or picks), while Cleveland will stand to recoup a pick in the 2018 draft should he sign elsewhere. For more details on the specifics of the QO system, check out MLBTR’s previous primer on the newly restructured system.

    The 31-year-old switch-hitter batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and career-best work at first base in 2017. While the market for corner bats hasn’t been great in recent years, Santana’s defensive improvements, power and longstanding reputation as one of baseball’s most patient hitters (career 15.2 percent walk rate) should serve him well on the open market even with draft-pick compensation attached to his name.

    Eric Hosmer is most commonly projected to top the free-agent market for first basemen given his youth and enormous production in his walk year, but we pegged Santana as the second-best option at the position on our annual Top 50 free agent list, pegging him for a three-year deal in the $45MM range and noting that a fourth year is certainly a possibility. The QO won’t help Santana to maximize his earning capacity, but he’s a more well-rounded player than many of his more one-dimensional peers at first base.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Reportedly Decline Option On Boone Logan]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106534 2017-11-06T19:37:05Z 2017-11-06T19:37:05Z The Indians have declined their $7MM club option on left-handed reliever Boone Logan, tweets Tom Withers of the Associated Press. The 33-year-old Logan will receive a $1MM buyout, bringing his total earnings with Cleveland to $6.5MM.

    Logan spent much of the 2016-17 offseason in search of a multi-year deal before ultimately signing a one-year pact with a club option in early February. The contract, at the time, was viewed as a coup for a Cleveland organization that lacked another established lefty reliever to pair with Andrew Miller in the ’pen. Logan’s 2016 season with the Rockies featured 46 1/3 innings of 3.69 ERA ball, 11.1 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 49.5 percent ground-ball rate. Lefties batted just .139/.222/.255 against him in ’16.

    His 2017 season in Cleveland, however, was considerably less successful. Logan’s season was cut in half by a strained lat muscle in mid-July, and in the end his lone year with the Indians resulted in a 4.71 earned run average in just 21 innings of work. On the plus side for Logan, his strikeout, walk, home-run and ground-ball rates all remained virtually identical. Logan actually allowed hard contact at a lower rate in 2017 and didn’t see any appreciable decline in his velocity. Rather, he was plagued by a massive spike in his BABIP (.353), which can be more reasonably expected to take a step back in 2018 and beyond.

    Cleveland, though, has a tight payroll that now has even less wiggle room after the club elected to exercise its $12MM option over outfielder Michael Brantley. That Tyler Olson has emerged as an excellent left-handed complement to Miller in manager Terry Francona’s bullpen only makes the decision to walk away from Logan an easier one.

    As for Logan, he’ll likely draw plenty of interest and could yet land a Major League deal with a lower base salary than last winter’s $6.5MM mark. Some clubs may wish to hold out hope that he’ll take a minor league contract in light of his season-ending injury, but Logan’s solid across-the-board peripheral numbers create hope that he’ll be able to bounce back nicely in coming seasons.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Qualifying Offer Rumors: Monday]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106523 2017-11-06T19:15:42Z 2017-11-06T19:15:09Z Teams have until 5pm ET tonight to issue one-year, $17.4MM qualifying offers to their impending free agents if they wish to recoup draft pick compensation in the event that their free agent(s) depart and sign elsewhere. Those unfamiliar with the process can refer back to a lengthy exploration of the QO system (penned by MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk), which was revamped last winter in the 2017-21 collective bargaining agreement.

    For those looking for a Cliff’s Notes-esque refresher, here’s the QO system in a few sentences. MLB teams can issue a one-year offer worth the mean salary of the league’s 125 highest-paid players to an impending free agent in order to receive compensation in the next year’s draft. A player can receive a qualifying offer only once in his career and is eligible to receive a QO if and only if he spent the entire season with his club. Players that accept a QO are considered signed and cannot be traded until June 15 of the upcoming season. Players have 10 days to decide whether to accept or reject.

    The new CBA places the standard compensatory pick after Competitive Balance Round B — meaning it should fall somewhere between picks 70 to 80. Elements like revenue sharing, luxury tax penalization and size of the player’s new contract can all impact the placement of the comp pick, however. Teams that sign a player who rejected a QO will be required to forfeit at least one pick in the next year’s draft. Each team’s top pick is protected, but the placement of forfeited pick(s) is dependent on the luxury tax and revenue sharing. International pool money may also need to be forfeited. (Again, I’d highly recommend checking out Mark’s piece, in full, for more details.)

    Here are today’s rumors…

    • MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian calls it a “safe bet” that the Indians will issue a qualifying offer to first baseman Carlos Santana (Twitter link). The 31-year-old switch-hitter batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and career-best work at first base in 2017. While the market for corner bats hasn’t been great in recent years, Santana’s defensive improvements, power and longstanding reputation as one of baseball’s most patient hitters (career 15.2 percent walk rate) should serve him well on the open market even with draft-pick compensation attached to his name.

    Earlier Updates

    • Reds shortstop Zack Cozart is still unlikely to receive a qualifying offer, per FanRag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter links). That’s been the direction in which Cincinnati has reportedly been leaning for the past couple of weeks, though MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon hears that the Reds are still debating the QO for Cozart. Despite the Reds’ rebuilding status, it still seems surprising that they could let him walk for no compensation. Cozart had a breakout .297/.385/.548 season at the plate in 2017 and even in the two years prior was a roughly league-average bat with well-above average defense at shortstop. He should be able to top $17.4MM by a wide margin in free agency, and even if he accepts, he’d be a bargain at that rate. The Reds do already have $86MM worth of payroll commitments and arbitration projections for next season, but there are other areas (non-tenders, trades) that they could trim from the payroll if need be..
    • Some players — Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Lance Lynn — have long seemed like locks to receive a QO. Alex Cobb, too, has stood out as a logical recipient, though the Rays’ payroll limitations at least cast some doubt on that possibility. Heyman reported last night that Cobb would receive a QO, and it’s been reported by multiple outlets that each member of that Royals trio will receive a QO as well.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Indians Rumors: Shaw, Smith]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106427 2017-11-05T16:30:45Z 2017-11-05T16:30:15Z
  • The Indians aren’t optimistic that they’ll be able to re-sign impending free agent reliever Bryan Shaw, Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com reports. Shaw has been an effective workhorse out of the Indians’ bullpen since 2013, having pitched to a 3.11 ERA across 358 2/3 innings during that five-year span, and appears poised to parlay his success in Cleveland into a contract out of the club’s price range. MLBTR projects a three-year, $21MM deal for Shaw, which the Indians believe will prove close to accurate, Terry Pluto of cleveland.com writes. With the soon-to-be 30-year-old Shaw apparently on his way out, the Tribe could feel more urgency to re-sign fellow impending free agent reliever Joe Smith, Hoynes notes. Smith, who will play his age-34 season in 2018, is fresh off a terrific campaign divided between Toronto and Cleveland.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Chris Antonetti Discusses Michael Brantley]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106389 2017-11-05T03:41:36Z 2017-11-05T03:41:36Z
  • Although Michael Brantley missed a large portion of this past season with right ankle problems and then underwent surgery Oct. 19, the Indians still picked up his $12MM option for 2018 on Friday. When discussing the decision with Ryan Lewis of Ohio.com and other reporters, president Chris Antonetti noted that Brantley’s surgery carries a high rate of success (Twitter link). While the Indians are optimistic about Brantley’s health, Antonetti won’t talk about how the 30-year-old fits on the Tribe’s roster until he’s further along in his rehab, per Lewis.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Exercise Club Options Over Michael Brantley & Josh Tomlin]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106254 2017-11-03T20:52:01Z 2017-11-03T19:31:49Z The Indians have announced that they have picked up the club options over both outfielder Michael Brantley and righty Josh Tomlin. The decision on Brantley, in particular, represents an important part of the team’s offseason puzzle.

    Entering the winter, it seemed unclear whether the Cleveland organization would elect to retain Brantley at an $11MM price tag or pay him a $1MM buyout. While he’s one of their best players when healthy, shoulder and ankle issues have impacted him quite a bit in recent years. His ability to stay on the field will likely have a significant impact on the club’s fortunes in 2018.

    Brantley, 30, emerged as one of the game’s most productive hitters in 2014-15, blending outstanding contact skills with good pop. But he missed almost all of 2016 and wasn’t quite as productive when on the field in 2017. Brantley still produced a strong .299/.357/.444 batting line with nine home runs and 11 steals over 375 plate appearances, but underwent a significant ankle procedure after the end of the season.

    The decision on Tomlin didn’t require quite as much of a gut check. He’ll earn a relatively meager $3MM (rather than a $750K buyout) for his services in 2018 before qualifying for free agency. Cleveland can utilize him in the rotation or out of the bullpen, depending upon how things shake out.

    The 33-year-old gave the Indians 141 frames over 26 starts in 2017, posting only a 4.98 ERA but carrying more promising peripherals. In particular, the soft-tossing control artist posted a solid 7.0 K/9 vs. 0.9 BB/9. That said, Tomlin will need to tamp down on the long ball (1.47 per nine in 2017).

    Retaining Brantley puts the Indians at over $120MM in likely 2018 payroll as the offseason gets underway. (That rough estimate includes guaranteed contracts and projected arbitration payouts.) Cleveland will see Carlos Santana (assuming he declines an anticipated qualifying offer) and Jay Bruce hit the open market. With Brantley on the books, it seems unlikely that the Indians will be able to retain both of those players, though certainly it’s still possible to imagine one more significant position-player contract.

    There are still plenty of moving parts in Cleveland. The team could conceivably line Brantley up at first base and slide Jason Kipnis into left. If Brantley stays in the outfield, then it’s unclear what’ll become of the veteran second baseman, who seems likely to be bumped off of his usual position by Jose Ramirez. Third base, too, is largely unresolved, though the organization has a few options there (including, perhaps, Ramirez — if Kipnis stays at second).

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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Offseason Outlook: Cleveland Indians]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=105327 2017-10-31T20:32:09Z 2017-10-31T17:20:05Z MLBTR is publishing Offseason Outlooks for all 30 teams.  Click here for the other entries in this series.

    A 102-win season for the Tribe included a record-setting 22-game win streak that defied injuries and mathematical odds. But an early exit in the postseason left players (and fans) reeling, and they’ll head into the offseason with a few key players set to become free agents. With most of the 2016-2017 AL Central champion core still in place, the Indians will probably only need some minor retooling to be considered favorites for a third consecutive division title.

    Guaranteed Contracts

    • Edwin Encarnacion, DH: $37MM through 2019 ($20MM option for 2020, $5MM buyout)
    • Jason Kipnis, 2B/OF: $28MM through 2019 ($16.5MM option for 2020, $2.5MM buyout)
    • Andrew Miller, RP: $9MM through 2018
    • Corey Kluber, SP: $23.5MM through 2019 ($13.5MM option for 2020/$14MM option for 2021, $1MM buyout)
    • Carlos Carrasco, SP: $8MM through 2018 ($9MM option for 2019/$9.5MM option for 2020, $662.5K in total buyouts)
    • Yan Gomes, C: $12.95MM through 2019 ($9MM option for 2020, $1MM buyout/$11MM option for 2021, $1MM buyout)
    • Brandon Guyer, OF: $2.75MM through 2018 ($3MM option for 2019, $250k buyout)
    • Jose Ramirez, INF: $21.4MM through 2021 ($11MM option for 2022, $2MM buyout/$13MM option for 2023)
    • Roberto Perez, C: $7.5MM through 2020 ($5.5MM option for 2021, $450K buyout/$7MM option for 2022, $450K buyout)

    Contract Options

    Arbitration-Eligible Players (service time in parentheses; projections via MLBTR & Matt Swartz)

    Free Agents

    [Cleveland Indians Depth Chart; Cleveland Indians Payroll]

    Cleveland’s roster is in good shape headed into the offseason. But for the first time in many years, the Indians will see several talented players become too expensive to retain. The Tribe’s guaranteed payroll plus projected arbitration salaries is already set to top $111MM in 2018, and that’s after setting a franchise record with a 2017 payroll close to $134MM. It’s unlikely that the small market Indians will significantly exceed that total, leaving them with some tough decisions to make this winter.

    One of the first (and easiest) questions to answer will be whether or not to extend long-time first baseman Carlos Santana a qualifying offer. The switch-hitter has made at least 600 plate appearances in each of his seven full seasons with the Indians, averaging 3 WAR and 24 home runs across that span while leading the entire American League with 689 walks. While he’s been prone to slumps and is susceptible to extreme pull shifts, those weaknesses will definitely not be enough to dissuade the Indians issuing him a one-year QO at $17.4MM. He’ll almost certainly reject that offer, netting the organization a draft pick at the end of the first round should he sign elsewhere for at least $50MM in guarantees (or after Comp Round B, if the contract is less than $50MM). In the highly unlikely event he accepts the offer, they’d certainly be glad to have him back on a one-year deal during a contending season.

    Beyond that, it would be atypical for the Indians to shell out big money and bring back Santana. Because he’s younger, he could seek more in terms of years than fellow first base/DH type Edwin Encarnacion did last winter. The average annual value of a new deal for Santana would tie up much of the remaining space in the Tribe’s 2018 payroll unless it were heavily backloaded, and such a contract could even approach or exceed the $60MM total promised to Encarnacion last winter. Perhaps there’s still some room to imagine a reunion, though. MLBTR’s Connor Byrne explored Santana’s market in-depth just last week, pointing out that another rich free agent first base crop could hurt his earning power. There were rumors back in April of a dialogue between the Indians and Santana’s camp, but at this point, teams like the Red Sox or Rangers will probably be able to offer the Octagon client more money.

    Should Santana depart, the Indians could explore a reunion with Mike Napoli or Mark Reynolds. They might also have interest in Lucas Duda or any of the many other first base/DH candidates hitting the open market in a few days. The club has myriad internal options as well. Encarnacion could play first base, albeit with subpar defense. Such a move would allow the injury-riddled Michael Brantley to take over DH duties and stay off the field, if the Indians decide to pick up his option (more on that later). Outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall has some experience at first base, though he’s usually kept out of the lineup against left-handed pitching. Yandy Diaz might be a candidate to get a look at the position as well. It’s worth noting that the Indians have a high-upside first base prospect in Bobby Bradley, but he’s never played above the Double-A level and would therefore be unlikely to win the job out of spring training.

    Thanks to some data-driven improvements to his swing, outfielder Jay Bruce enjoyed a strong 2017 season, clubbing 36 homers with a .254/.324/.508 slash line across 617 plate appearances between the Mets and Indians. He became a fan favorite after a trade to Cleveland in August, smacking the walk-off hit that extended Cleveland’s record winning streak to 22 games and crushing two clutch home runs in the ALDS. Like Santana, however, he’d require significant money to bring back. The Indians have a large crowd of left-handed outfield options already, including Brantley, Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis, Bradley Zimmer and Tyler Naquin. The club will probably end up choosing among those options rather than try to retain Bruce. The 30 year-old slugger is ineligible to receive a qualifying offer because he was traded mid-season.

    Brantley, a former MVP candidate, has missed most of the past two seasons with ankle and shoulder injuries. For the third straight year, he’ll enter spring training coming off a significant surgery. While Brantley has been healthy, he’s been above average with the bat, hitting .292/.349/.427 with a typically low 13.4% strikeout rate. But although it seemed almost certain back in July that Cleveland would pick up his $11MM option for 2018, that decision may be one of the most difficult the Indians face this offseason. (The majority of MLBTR readers said they expect the team to decline the option in a recent poll.) Brantley’s health is a risk for sure, and the Indians will have to factor that in when trying to fit the payroll puzzle pieces together.

    If the Indians do pick up Brantley’s option (with intentions of utilizing him in the outfield), Chisenhall could potentially become a trade candidate. Although his 129 wRC+ when healthy ranked fourth among Indians hitters, Lonnie Baseball’s $5.8MM projected arbitration salary might be more than the Indians care to pay for an injury-prone platoon player. The club could instead opt to have Naquin fill his role at the league minimum salary in order to open up payroll space to use in other ways. Then again, the club seems to have passed over Naquin in favor of other options this year, so he might not be someone they’re willing to rely on. Chisenhall will more likely than not be on the opening day roster for 2018, but I expect they’ll at least explore the trade market for him.

    Austin Jackson is another player the Indians will have to make a decision on. With health questions surrounding Brandon Guyer, Cleveland would probably like to have another right-handed outfielder on the roster. The 30 year-old has a great track record outside of a poor 2016 season, and is coming off a year in which he had great (albeit BABIP-driven) success at the plate. Of all their free agents, Jackson is probably the most likely candidate to be brought back, but even he might cost more than the Indians are willing to pay with the speedy switch-hitter Greg Allen waiting in the wings.

    Kipnis’ role with the club will be a big factor in the Tribe’s offseason plans. He’s coming off a poor offensive season wherein he had multiple stints on the DL, and the two positions he played for the club in 2017 seem tabbed for All-Star Jose Ramirez (second base) and Zimmer (center field). Ramirez could shift back over to third to make room for Kipnis at second, but the club might want to get long looks at Diaz and top prospect Francisco Mejia, the latter of whom is being tested at third in the Arizona Fall League. And Giovanny Urshela remains on hand as well; he struggled badly at the plate but carried the bulk of the load at third down the stretch. Depending on what happens with Brantley and Chisenhall this offseason, it seems like Kipnis could slide to a corner outfield spot — if he’s not traded, which also appears possible.

    So, if the Indians decide to play Encarnacion at first base with Brantley as the main DH, the outfield pieces would fall into place somewhat conveniently, with Zimmer in center and Chisenhall, Kipnis, Allen, Guyer and Abraham Almonte as the other main outfield options. The club could then explore inking Jackson to a new deal or exploring a free agent crop that includes Melky Cabrera, Cameron Maybin and Carlos Gomez as reasonably-priced options.

    If the club declines Brantley’s option and opts not to sign a free agent first baseman, they’ll probably at least inquire on J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton, whose right-handed power would be a welcome addition to a lefty-heavy outfield. However, those outfielders are likely to be well out of their price range; each would command even more money than a new contract for Santana. Given the commitment to Encarnacion, it’s not altogether clear that kind of investment is really plausible. Jose Bautista could be another free agent they consider as a bounceback option, at a much lower price.

    Another option would be to fill the potential hole in the lineup via trade. The Indians have two blue chip prospects in Mejia and strikeout wizard Triston McKenzie, and a good number of upside prospects beyond them. If they opt to decline Brantley’s option, the Tribe could target right-handed hitting outfielders Marcell Ozuna of the Marlins or Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates. Matt Adams of the Braves could be available at a lower cost and would fill the first base opening nicely.

    On the pitching side, the Indians might have the payroll space to bring back one of Joe Smith or Bryan Shaw, but it’s highly unlikely that both will return. If both depart, the Tribe’s bullpen might be able to succeed on internal options alone. With Cody Allen and Andrew Miller at the back end, they’ll once again be well off in close games. Zach McAllister, Nick Goody, Tyler Olson and Dan Otero will all be back, and the Indians could rely on Shawn Armstrong or Kyle Crockett to fill the remaining opening. I expect the Indians to decline lefty Boone Logan’s option and sign at least one free agent bullpen arm from the middle or lower tier, but there’s a good chance they’ll rely on internal options and waiver claims as well, provided they can’t retain Smith or Shaw. It’s worth noting that the Indians will open 2018 with a surplus of starters if they pick up Josh Tomlin’s $3MM option, so it’s possible that he, Danny Salazar or Mike Clevinger could pitch in a relief role as well.

    A brilliant starting rotation has become Cleveland’s signature, and the whole group is coming back once again. Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Salazar and Clevinger are all under control through 2019. I anticipate the club will pick up Tomlin’s option for 2018. Cody Anderson will be able to serve as vertical depth when he returns from Tommy John recovery at some point this season, while Ryan Merritt and Shawn Morimando will be available for spot starts as well.

    No Indians offseason outlook would be complete without a mention of former Platinum Glove-winning shortstop and MVP candidate Francisco Lindor. The 23-year old posted another phenomenal season, slugging 33 homers and posting good defensive marks across 1,377 innings at shortstop. He posted an 8.3% walk rate and 12.9% strikeout rate exactly identical to his 2016 season while leading the entire American League with 723 plate appearances. After reportedly offering their young phenom an extension close to $100MM this past spring, they’ll no doubt make another attempt to lock him up before the 2018 season begins. After another 6-WAR season, he’ll probably cost even more in terms of guaranteed dollars, but with Lindor quickly establishing himself as one of the Tribe’s all-time great shortstops — and arbitration beckoning in the fall of 2018 — this might be the last reasonable chance they have to keep him in Cleveland beyond his age 27 season.

    Although Cleveland typically makes an attempt to extend as many young players as they can, there aren’t many extension candidates in the organization outside of Lindor. Bauer showed major improvements in the second half, and with three arbitration years remaining he’s probably the next best candidate with whom to explore a long-term deal. But the occasionally offbeat righty has had his ups and downs and is at best a questionable target for a new contract. Clevinger could be worth a conversation as well; he’s shown promise in his limited service time.

    The Indians already took care of one notable item on the docket when they found a pitching coach to replace Mickey Callaway, who was recently hired as the Mets’ new manager. The loss of Callaway comes as a sting to the Indians, whose pitching staff has been the best in baseball by WAR since he became the pitching coach in 2013, in addition to being the only staff during that time to average over a strikeout per inning across the board. He’ll be replaced by Carl Willis, who previously held the position in Cleveland and (more recently) with the Red Sox.

    The Indians have a lot of flexible pieces to try and connect in a creative roster mosaic this offseason. The amount of possible combinations will be both an advantage an a headache, but whatever path they take, they’re likely to enter 2018 as favorites to return to the postseason once again.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Indians Notes: Offseason Moves, Santana, Bruce, Bullpen, Willis]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=105850 2017-10-30T12:20:28Z 2017-10-30T03:50:35Z
  • The Indians seem prepared to spend in the short-term to keep their window of contention open, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer opines during his look at the some of the Tribe’s free agents this winter.  Pluto figures Carlos Santana will be issued a qualifying offer, and the team will monitor the markets of Santana and Jay Bruce to see if either could be re-signed for a reasonable amount, a la how several other veteran sluggers received smaller-than-expected deals last winter (which allowed the Tribe to sign Edwin Encarnacion).  As for other decisions, Pluto thinks Bryan Shaw and Boone Logan will both be pitching elsewhere in 2018, while Joe Smith seems the likeliest of the relievers to return to Cleveland.  Josh Tomlin’s $3MM club option seems like a good bet to be exercised by the team.
    • The Indians seem prepared to spend in the short-term to keep their window of contention open, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer opines during his look at the some of the Tribe’s free agents this winter.  Pluto figures Carlos Santana will be issued a qualifying offer, and the team will monitor the markets of Santana and Jay Bruce to see if either could be re-signed for a reasonable amount, a la how several other veteran sluggers received smaller-than-expected deals last winter (which allowed the Tribe to sign Edwin Encarnacion).  As for other decisions, Pluto thinks Bryan Shaw and Boone Logan will both be pitching elsewhere in 2018, while Joe Smith seems the likeliest of the relievers to return to Cleveland.  Josh Tomlin’s $3MM club option seems like a good bet to be exercised by the team.
    • Also from Pluto, newly-hired pitching coach Carl Willis said two other teams had made him job offers and two others showed interest in his services.  With this kind of interest, the Indians had to jump to sign the veteran pitching coach just a few days after ex-pitching coach Mickey Callaway left for the Mets.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Poll: Michael Brantley’s Option]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=105809 2017-10-29T18:31:11Z 2017-10-29T18:29:48Z Michael BrantleyWith free agency around the corner, the American League Central-winning Indians could be on the verge of losing a few notable contributors to their 2017 offense. Carlos Santana, Jay Bruce and Austin Jackson – who each posted above-average production over a combined 1,100-plus plate appearances this year – are slated to hit the open market, and it’s possible outfielder Michael Brantley will join them.

    Unlike his three teammates, Brantley is controllable through 2018 (with a $12MM club option), but Cleveland brass has not indicated whether it’s going to bring him back. As of Oct. 19, the Indians were “working through” what to do with Brantley, president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti told reporters.

    Antonetti & Co. have until three days after the World Series to make a call on Brantley’s option, which comes with a $1MM buyout. If the Indians are confident Brantley will be consistently available in 2018, keeping him in the fold should be a no-brainer. The 30-year-old has been a quality regular over the past several seasons, after all, especially when he combined to slash a superb .319/.382/.494 with 38 home runs and 35 stolen bases across 1,272 PAs from 2014-15. Unfortunately, injuries have somewhat derailed Brantley’s career since that star-caliber two-year stretch, thus complicating the Indians’ decision.

    The Tribe won an AL pennant and came within a victory of a World Series title in 2016, but the team did it without Brantley, who took just 41 trips to the plate and didn’t play past May 9. Shoulder problems troubled Brantley then, though his offseason recovery from surgery went well enough that he was able to make it back for the start of 2017.

    In terms of production, this season represented a successful return for Brantley, who hit a respectable .299/.357/.444 with nine homers and 11 steals in 383 PAs. Availability was an issue again, though, as Brantley endured multiple stints on the disabled list with a right ankle sprain. Brantley’s second DL placement, on Aug. 9, brought an end to his regular season with nearly two months remaining in the campaign. Encouragingly, Brantley returned for the Indians’ ALDS loss to the Yankees and totaled 12 PAs in the series, yet his comeback didn’t mean his ankle woes were completely behind him. Shortly after Cleveland’s elimination, Brantley underwent ankle surgery, and he’s now in the early stages of a four- to five-month recovery.

    With this year’s World Series set to wrap up Wednesday at the latest, the Indians have less than a week to determine whether an on-the-mend Brantley will be worth keeping around at a fairly high price. Ideally, retaining Brantley would help the Tribe’s offense overcome the potential departures of Santana, Bruce and Jackson. However, considering the Indians are entering the offseason without a lot of payroll space to work with, allocating $12MM to a player with injury questions may be a risk they elect not to take.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Marlins, Chief Wahoo, Cubs, Otani]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=105769 2017-10-29T00:43:51Z 2017-10-28T23:06:08Z The new Marlins ownership group apparently asked Hall of Famers Tony Perez and Andre Dawson to remain with the organization, but at a 75% pay cut amounting to a $25k annual salary. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports has the full scoop here. In a phone interview with FanRag, Perez said, “They say they wanted us in the organization. But we didn’t like the way they wanted us in the organization.” The debacle actually began with Marlins president David Samson calling Perez to tell him that the two were being let go. After a few subsequent events, Perez and Dawson were given the $25K offer and asked to spend their time with minor leaguers rather than the major leaguers they had developed a rapport with. Conflicting information came to the two Hall of Famers from Samson and Jeter over the course of a few days, leading Perez to describe the whole fiasco as “ridiculous”, adding that “it wasn’t right”.  They’ve rejected their respective low-ball offers and will no longer be a part of the Marlins organization.

    Some other items across major league baseball as the Astros and Dodgers prepare to face each other in Game 4…

    • Yuli Gurriel’s use of a racial slur aimed at Yu Darvish has once again brought up the subject of the Indians’ Chief Wahoo logo. When asked about Chief Wahoo, Manfred said that he sees a difference between the logo and Gurriel’s slur, but that “both are problematic” (via Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times). Scott Miller of Bleacher Report adds in his own tweet that Manfred plans to deal with Chief Wahoo in the offseason.
    • The Cubs might be willing to listen on big-name players in order to acquire young pitchers, Phil Rogers of MLB.com reports. He lists Chris Archer, Marcus Stroman, Sean Manaea, Aaron Nola and Michael Fulmer as potential targets, noting that only Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras are likely to be considered untouchable. The Cubs’ starting staff finished with a 4.05 combined ERA last season, but could see former Cy Young-winner Jake Arrieta leave in free agency (Rogers cites the Rangers as a team that could potentially sign him).
    • Coveted Nippon-Ham Fighters ace Shohei Otani has been released from the hospital following successful ankle surgery, according to a report from the Japan Times. Otani’s recovery process will be one to watch, as he’s likely to be courted by all 30 MLB teams during the offseason as he attempts a move to the majors. Otani’s ankle injury can actually be traced all the way back to last October and has bothered him ever since, so fans in Japan and the US alike will hope that this surgery puts a firm end to any issues.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Kapler, Wathan Among Finalists For Phillies Manager]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104616 2017-10-27T12:05:34Z 2017-10-27T12:05:36Z The Phillies have an opening in the dugout after surprisingly removing Pete Mackanin from that role and transitioning him to a front office role. Philadelphia had extended Mackanin just four months earlier, making the decision all the more unexpected. We’ll track the majority of the managerial chatter pertaining to the Phils here over the course of the search and update accordingly as the hunt progresses…

    Finalists

    • If the Phillies opt for a manager with Major League experience, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney tweets that the “industry expectation” is that John Farrell will get the job.
    • MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler is also a finalist for the position, along with Wathan. Both impressed the Phils with their first interviews, and it sounds as if the Philadelphia brass will conduct one more round of interviews with this pair (and any other yet-unknown finalists) before making a final decision.
    • The Phillies are “zeroing in” on Triple-A skipper Dusty Wathan for the job, per Nightengale (via Twitter). He’ll join Kapler, at the least, in a second wave of interviews. Wathan only briefly cracked the majors as a player, but has once again climbed the minor-league ladder since moving to the coaching ranks with the Phillies back in 2008.

    Will Interview/Have Interviewed (Still Under Consideration)

    • Recently fired Red Sox manager John Farrell interviewed for the position on Oct. 25, reports Zolecki. It’s not yet clear whether Farrell’s sitdown with the Phils will result in another interview.
    • Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler is also slated for an interview, as Zolecki reports. Kapler took his position with Los Angeles after missing on the team’s managerial opening, but has continued to be cited as a possible candidate elsewhere ever since.
    • The Phillies already have one strong internal candidate in Jorge Velandia, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Currently a special assistant to GM Matt Klentak, Velandia interviewed for the opening on Wednesday and is a “strong candidate,” according to Salisbury, though other interviews are sure to be conducted with external candidates. Nonetheless, Salisbury writes that the 42-year-old Velandia is well versed in player development and has embraced the analytical side of the game. His work with Klentak and the rest of the front office should bode well for communication. He’s spent time on the Phillies’ big league coaching staff in the past and has also spent six seasons as a manager in the Venezuelan Winter League.
    • Current Phillies third base coach Juan Samuel has also interviewed for the opening, as Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Daily News recently reported. Samuel, 56, has been on the Phillies’ coaching staff since 2011 after coming over from the Orioles, where he worked with Andy MacPhail, who was then the Orioles’ president and now holds that same role with the Phillies. Samuel spoke to Brookover about his own openness to incorporating more data-driven decisions into on-field decisions. “If you have something available to you that gives you an advantage over other clubs, you should definitely use it,” he said.
    • Both Salisbury and Brookover list Triple-A manager Dusty Wathan as another internal candidate that is expected to interview. It’s not known yet whether the 44-year-old has interviewed, but he’s spent the past 10 seasons managing at various levels throughout the Phillies’ system, so he obviously has plenty of familiarity with the Phillies’ homegrown players and a number of the front office execs that have been with the club for an extended period of time.

    Preliminary Candidates (Interview Status Unknown)

    • The Phillies have spoken with Mariners third base coach Manny Acta, Jon Heyman of FanRag writes (and clarifies on Twitter). Acta, who managed the Nationals from 2007-09 and the Indians from 2010-12, was in the running for the Mets’ job before it went to Mickey Callaway.
    • In addition to a few of the other names already covered here, Heyman hears that the Phils have some level of interested in Red Sox bench coach Gary DiSarcina and possibly former Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. Boston is in the midst of its own managerial hiring process, with the club leaving coaches like DiSarcina free to explore their options with other organizations.
    • The Phillies are interested in speaking to Rockies bench coach Mike Redmond, per Heyman. There’s been no definitive word of an interview, but the former Marlins manager has been building his dugout resume since calling it quits as a player back in 2010. At 46, he’d give the Phillies a considerably younger voice than they’ve had under recent skippers like Mackanin, Ryne Sandberg and Charlie Manuel.

    Not in the Mix/No Longer in Consideration

    • Ryan Lawrence of PhillyVoice.com reported recently that the Phillies won’t consider bench coach Larry Bowa or former GM Ruben Amaro Jr. for the post. Klentak has stated a desire for a “new voice” and a “new style” in the dugout, Lawrence notes, which wouldn’t be accomplished with the 71-year-old Bowa. As for Amaro, while he’d been previously connected to the role and is reportedly on the Tigers’ radar, Lawrence definitively characterized the chances of Amaro being on the team’s radar as nonexistent.
    • USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that Phil Nevin is no longer in the running after interviewing recently. FanRag’s Jon Heyman tweets that Athletics third base coach Chip Hale, who also interviewed for the Philadelphia vacancy, has been eliminated from the running as well.
    • Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway interviewed for the post but has since been hired as the new manager of the Mets.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Name Carl Willis Pitching Coach]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=105527 2017-10-26T14:26:59Z 2017-10-26T14:08:42Z The Indians announced on Thursday that they’ve hired Carl Willis as the team’s new pitching coach. Willis will replace the highly regarded Mickey Callaway, who left the Indians organization this week to become the new manager of the Mets. Willis, of course, is a familiar name to Indians fans, having served as the pitching coach in Cleveland from 2003-09.

    Following his initial run in Cleveland, Willis became a minor league pitching coordinator with the Mariners and, eventually, the pitching coach in Seattle. He’s spent the majority of the past three seasons as John Farrell’s pitching coach with the Red Sox, but Boston gave its coaching staff freedom to explore other opportunities when Farrell was dismissed from his post. Willis had also reportedly interviewed with for the Twins’ pitching coach vacancy before accepting the job with the Indians. As Cleveland.com’s Zack Meisel points out (on Twitter), Willis has coached four pitchers during Cy Young seasons: CC Sabathia (2007), Cliff Lee (2008), Felix Hernandez (2010) and Rick Porcello (2016).

    As a player, the 56-year-old Willis spent parts of nine seasons in the Majors, mostly with the Twins, from 1984-95. He made a pair of starts as a rookie for the Tigers in ’84 but worked exclusively as a reliever for the remainder of his career, ultimately tallying a 4.25 ERA in 390 innings at the big league level. Willis, nicknamed “The Big Train,” was one of Minnesota’s top relievers in their ’91 World Series Championship season, tossing 89 innings of 2.63 ERA ball.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Rays Hire Matt Quatraro As Third Base Coach]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=105410 2017-10-24T20:23:15Z 2017-10-24T17:00:35Z
  • The Rays have hired Matt Quatraro as their new third-base coach, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (all links to Twitter). He had served as the Indians’ assistant hitting coach, making him the latest Cleveland coach to head elsewhere. Topkin adds that the Rays plan to hire a first base coach, with Rocco Baldelli moving to a somewhat different role on the staff.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Mets Hire Mickey Callaway As Manager]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=105259 2017-10-23T21:50:25Z 2017-10-23T21:49:15Z 4:49pm: The contract includes a team option for a fourth season, per Mike Puma of the New York Post (via Twitter).

    11:00am: The Mets have announced Callaway’s hiring. There’s a press conference set for Citi Field at 4pm ET today.

    OCT. 23, 8:40am: The Mets are expected to announce Callaway’s hiring this afternoon at Citi Field, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post.

    OCT. 22, 1:37pm: Callaway is taking the job, Marc Carig of Newsday tweets.

    12:43pm: The Mets have offered their managerial job to Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The two sides are finalizing Callaway’s contract, Sherman adds (Twitter link). It’ll be a three-year deal, Jon Heyman of FanRag reports (on Twitter).

    Mickey Callaway

    The 42-year-old Callaway emerged as the top candidate for the job earlier Sunday, beating out Mets hitting coach Kevin Long, Mariners third base coach Manny Acta and White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing for the position. Callaway “stood out” from the rest during his interviews with Mets brass, Sherman tweets. The club’s hope is that Long will stay on as part of Callaway’s staff, per Sherman (on Twitter).

    Callaway, who also drew interest from the manager-needy Phillies, developed an excellent reputation during his five-year run as the Indians’ pitching coach. In what will go down as Callaway’s final season on manager Terry Francona’s staff, the Indians boasted one of the most successful pitching staffs of all-time.

    As was the case in Cleveland, Callaway – a major league pitcher from 1999-2004 – will have an opportunity to work with a slew of gifted hurlers in New York. Despite the immense talent on hand, though, the majority of Mets pitchers dealt with injuries and posted poor performances in 2017 during a 70-92 season that led to previous manager Terry Collins’ ouster. Aside from Jacob deGrom, who was his typical excellent self, none of the Mets’ top starters stayed healthy. Noah Syndergaard missed most of the season, while Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler mostly turned in ineffective showings when they were physically able to take the mound. Meanwhile, fellow starters Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo and Rafael Montero failed to distinguish themselves as rotation locks for 2018.

    In addition to trying to turn around the fortunes of the Mets’ pitchers next season, Callaway will oversee a position player group that also had a less-than-ideal 2017. The Mets’ premier hitters, Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto, endured injury-shortened years, and the latter could miss a portion of next season after undergoing shoulder surgery in September. Still, the expectation is that those two will continue to serve as the Mets’ offensive centerpieces going forward. There are questions elsewhere, though, most of which center on the team’s infield alignment. Amed Rosario is a lock to start at shortstop, but it’s not yet clear who will earn the lion’s share of playing time at first, second or third base.

    The Mets’ roster issues will be up to general manager Sandy Alderson to figure out in the coming months, but he’ll obviously work to put his first-time manager in position to succeed right away. Despite their miserable campaign, the Mets aren’t far removed from being one of the National League’s most formidable teams. They earned playoff berths in each of the two prior seasons, including a World Series appearance in 2015, and will attempt to return to relevance under Callaway in 2018.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Curt Young Could Be Indians' Next Pitching Coach]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=105272 2017-10-22T22:10:46Z 2017-10-22T21:58:30Z
  • Curt Young is a candidate to succeed soon-to-be Mets manager Mickey Callaway as the Indians’ pitching coach, according to Robert Murray of FanRag. Young, who spent the past six years as the A’s pitching coach, worked under Indians manager Terry Francona when they were in Boston in 2011. The two are still “very good” friends, Murray notes.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Weighing Michael Brantley's Option]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=105050 2017-10-20T06:24:06Z 2017-10-19T20:52:05Z News of Michael Brantley’s ankle surgery and four- to five-month recovery timeline raised questions as to whether the Indians will exercise his $12MM club option for the 2018 season. Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti addressed the issue with reporters today, stating that the team is still “working through” the decision about whether to pick up Brantley’s option (link via Jordan Bastian of MLB.com). Antonetti also reemphasized that the team has “always envisioned [Brantley] being part of our organization, not only in 2018, but beyond.” Asked about potentially buying out Brantley’s option and negotiating an incentive-laden deal at a lower base rate, Antonetti declined to delve into hypothetical scenarios. Antonetti also noted that Brantley’s ankle didn’t trouble him when hitting, which is why he was included on the team’s ALDS roster.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Michael Brantley Undergoes Ankle Surgery]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=105039 2017-10-19T15:44:23Z 2017-10-19T15:44:23Z The Indians announced on Thursday that outfielder Michael Brantley underwent arthroscopic surgery yesterday to stabilize the ligaments in his ailing right ankle. Brantley is expected to require four to five months of recovery time before he’s cleared to resume baseball activities, per the announcement. The news of surgery comes as a fairly notable surprise, as the Indians had deemed Brantley healthy enough to carry on their postseason roster in the American League Division Series against the Yankees.

    The shorter end of the provided timeline would put Brantley on track to be ready for baseball activity just before position players report to Spring Training, though if his recovery extends to the five-month mark or even a bit beyond, he’d only be ready for the tail end of Spring Training.

    Brantley’s timeline is of particular note given that the Indians hold a club option over him for the 2018 season. As MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian points out (via Twitter), Brantley’s third-place finish in the 2014 American League MVP voting boosted the value of that option from $11MM to $12MM, though the $1MM buyout price remains unchanged. That option long appeared a virtual lock to be exercised, but Brantley’s durability issues in recent years will at least somewhat cloud the possibility given the team’s relatively tight payroll capacity. After the season, president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti told reporters that the team has envisioned Brantley as part of the organization not only in 2018 but beyond (Twitter link via Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal).

    The 30-year-old Brantley suffered a severe shoulder injury while diving for a ball in left field late in the 2015 season and ultimately required a pair of shoulder surgeries. He was limited to just 11 games and 43 plate appearances in 2016, though he did return with a considerably healthier and more productive campaign in 2017. This past season, Brantley took the field for 90 games and hit .299/.357/.444 with nine homers and 11 steals in 375 plate appearances. His shoulder held up throughout the year, but he still missed nearly half the season due to the ankle issue that necessitated yesterday’s surgical procedure.

    Certainly, the upside of a fully healthy Brantley is enormous. The former seventh-round pick broke out as one of baseball’s best pure hitters in 2014-15, and a one-year commitment worth $12MM would represent a clear bargain. However, the Indians already have a bit more than $73MM committed to next year’s payroll plus another roughly $33MM worth of projected arbitration salaries. Adding Brantley’s $12MM to the books would bring next year’s projected payroll to a fairly hefty $118MM before the team even began to address any offseason needs. Cleveland’s payroll this season opened at $124MM and came in around $133MM in total, but the team also had a bit of added revenue from last year’s deep World Series run — a benefit they obviously won’t enjoy this year.

    [Related: Cleveland Indians payroll outlook]

    Bastian has written that the Indians could explore the possibility of shifting Brantley from the outfield to first base, and doing so would cross off one notable offseason need while also allowing for the possibility of Jason Kipnis playing left field, Bradley Zimmer manning center, Jose Ramirez handling second base and Yandy Diaz slotting in at the hot corner. It would also mean less running and diving for Brantley, which could bode well for the health of both his ankle and his shoulder.

    On the other hand, buying out Brantley’s option would leave the Indians with a bit more offseason maneuverability as they look to address potential holes at first base/DH and potentially in the corner outfield and the bullpen. The team has until three days after the conclusion of the World Series to ultimately make a call on Brantley’s option, but that decision certainly looks more complicated in light of a significant operation and a potential five-month recovery period.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Free Agent Stock Watch: Carlos Santana]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104807 2017-10-15T19:46:42Z 2017-10-15T19:46:42Z The Indians’ ALDS loss to the Yankees may well go down as Carlos Santana’s last hurrah in Cleveland, an organization he has been a member of since 2008. The soon-to-be 32-year-old is slated to reach free agency next month and has the credentials to rake in one of the richest paydays of the offseason. It’s possible Santana’s next contract will come from the Tribe, of course, but the small-market club is only a year removed from handing fellow first baseman/designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion a substantial deal. The Indians could opt for a cheaper free agent to replace Santana, then, or perhaps they’ll turn to someone already on their talent-rich roster for aid.

    Carlos Santana

    If Santana has played his last game as an Indian, the Octagon client’s void will be a difficult one for the team to fill. Not only is he a switch-hitter who has consistently provided above-average offensive production from both sides of the plate dating back to his 2010 debut, but Santana has also been quite durable. Since 2011, his first full season, Santana has appeared in no fewer than 143 games in any individual campaign. He played in 154 games this year, giving him six seasons with at least 150 appearances.

    The 2017 season, in which he earned $12MM to close out a bargain contract (six years, $33MM-plus), didn’t begin in ideal fashion for Santana. His production was down through June, somewhat mirroring his team’s win-loss output. The Indians sat a mildly disappointing 42-36 through the season’s first three months before going on a 60-24 tear to wind up as the AL’s top seed.

    Santana played a key role in the Tribe’s memorable second-half run, as he posted a wRC+ of 169 in July, 161 in August and 119 in September. For the year, he put up a 117 mark and slashed .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and a .196 ISO across 667 plate appearances. Santana continued to show off his signature plate discipline along way, walking in 13.2 percent of trips and striking out only 14.1 percent of the time. It was the second straight year in which Santana struck out in under 15 percent of PAs, making him one of the few hitters trending in the right direction in a league with skyrocketing K totals.

    Including his most recent output, Santana has batted .249/.365/.445 with a .196 ISO, to go with a 15.2 percent strikeout rate against a 17 percent walk mark, in his 4,782-PA career. And while Santana’s not known for his glove work, the former catcher excelled at first this season, setting career highs in games (140), Defensive Runs Saved (10) and Ultimate Zone Rating (4.8). Between his work at the plate and in the field, Santana was worth 3.0 or more fWAR for the second straight year and the fourth time in his career. He has never registered a worse fWAR than 2.1 during a full season and has accrued 23.0 in Cleveland.

    To this point, Santana’s numbers look rather similar to the production former teammate Nick Swisher logged before signing a four-year, $56MM contract with the Indians as a 32-year-old in January 2013. In 5,013 PAs from 2004-12, the switch-hitting Swisher racked up 25.0 fWAR and hit a Santana-like .256/.361/.467, adding a .211 ISO and solid walk and strikeout rates (13.3 percent and 21.1 percent, respectively). Of course, the Swisher experiment failed miserably in Cleveland, which is a reminder that even free agents with seemingly safe skillsets can rapidly decline.

    Although the Swisher signing came almost a half-decade ago, something in the vicinity of his contract still looks like a fair benchmark for Santana’s next deal. While the Indians, Red Sox, Mariners and Angels are among a few potential fits, it’s worth noting that most teams were averse to spending big on first base/DH types a year ago. The leaguewide reluctance to splurge on those positions played a part in the Indians unexpectedly reeling in Encarnacion for a three-year, $65MM guarantee, and if it carries into this winter, it might enable them to re-up Santana at a reasonable rate. Further, it probably won’t help Santana’s cause that fellow first base options Eric Hosmer, Logan Morrison, Yonder Alonso, Lucas Duda and teammate Jay Bruce will join him in free agency after quality seasons of their own.

    Hosmer and Santana are the class of the group and the only two who figure to garner qualifying offers, which could also drive down their appeal on the market. But if Santana rejects a $17.4MM qualifying offer from the Tribe and manages to land a guarantee of at least $50MM from another team, the Indians would be entitled to a compensatory pick after the first round because they’re a revenue-sharing recipient. So, while losing Santana would be a tough blow for Cleveland, at least there’s a chance the franchise would get a nice consolation prize in return.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Antonetti, Chernoff, Francona Discuss Indians’ Offseason]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104706 2017-10-13T22:51:30Z 2017-10-13T22:51:30Z The Indians were obviously disappointed by the way things ended this year, as the club was knocked out with three-straight ALDS losses. President of baseball operations Chris Antonetti, GM Mike Chernoff, and skipper Terry Francona discussed the state of affairs heading into the offseason in a media session, as MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports.

    Broadly, Antonetti suggested that he thinks the organization’s processes remain sound. He also cited strong performance by the roster in all three major facets of the game, while emphasizing a commitment to continue “look[ing] to get better.”

    In terms of how much cash the Indians will have to work with, that evidently isn’t yet known. Unsurprisingly, though, there’s no inkling that the organization will do anything other than continue to try to win with the current core.

    The group of organizational leaders discussed a variety of players and situations in the lengthy dialogue, which is well forth a full read at the above link. There’s ongoing interest in bringing back Carlos Santana, though Antonetti was non-committal on how that would progress. He did suggest that Santana could be considered for a qualifying offer, which has been set at $17.4MM. Who’s on first if he departs? Per Antonetti, the team has internal options, plus “there’s a litany of guys on the trade and free-agent market that we’ll explore.”

    Jay Bruce proved a big presence for the club after his mid-season acquisition, but he’ll hit the open market as well. Chernoff expressed satisfaction with Bruce’s performance and noted there is some “mutual interest,” though it certainly seems that both sides will also explore their alternatives as well. Francona offered high praise for pending free agent reliever Bryan Shaw for his steadiness and constant readiness to enter the game. Given that, it seems possible to imagine a return, though that wasn’t addressed directly. Antonetti did say the team will “absolutely” consider re-signing Austin Jackson, who he credited for a strong bounceback year.

    A few other players could present interesting questions. Somewhat notably, Antonetti said it was a “significant decision” whether to exercise Michael Brantley’s $11MM option. While he credited Brantley’s work ethic, he noted that “just getting healthy” remains a priority for the oft-injured outfielder. Likewise, there’s some uncertainty surrounding Jason Kipnis, who is under contract but doesn’t have a clear position. The versatility is a good thing, says Antonetti, but the organization also needs to consider “what opportunities are out there externally for us” in all regards before deciding how it will line up its roster. Yandy Diaz is another versatile asset, Chernoff notes, though Francona suggested he hopes to give the youngster a single position to focus on — indicating he may best be suited to the hot corner.

    Also, Francona (who will, as expected, remain in his position) fielded some questions on the team’s postseason performance. In particular, he emphasized that there’s no reason to believe at present that Corey Kluber — who faltered in Game 5 and has dealt with arm slot difficulties — is anything other than healthy. Francona also noted that he has never before been so physically drained by a baseball season, saying that he intends to work on his own conditioning over the offseason. You’ll want to check out the link for more on that and other topics of discussion.

    ]]> 18 Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Facing Decisions On Several Free Agents]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104693 2017-10-13T19:09:11Z 2017-10-13T18:26:36Z

    Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that with the Indians’ season now over after a stunning Yankees comeback, the Cleveland front office now faces the daunting task of determining which players they’ll retain for the 2018 season (and beyond, in some cases). The Indians hold an $11MM club option over oft-injured but supremely talented left fielder Michael Brantley, as well as a $3MM option over right-hander Josh Tomlin. Beyond that, Cleveland will have to gauge whether a middle ground can be found when negotiating possible deals to retain Carlos Santana, Jay Bruce, Bryan Shaw, Austin Jackson and Joe Smith each of whom will be a free agent when the World Series ends. Hoynes spoke to Brantley, Bruce, Santana, Shaw and Tomlin about the possibility of returning, and each unsurprisingly expressed a resounding desire to return. “I started a quest back in 2009,” said Brantley of his debut year in Cleveland. “I want to finish the right way. I don’t want to go out like this if it’s my choice. It’s not.”

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