Cleveland Indians – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-05-23T15:19:51Z WordPress Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Move Josh Tomlin To Bullpen]]> 2018-05-21T14:21:19Z 2018-05-21T14:21:19Z The Indians are shifting fifth starter Josh Tomlin to the bullpen in favor of rookie right-hander Adam Plutko, manager Terry Francona revealed last night (link via Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer). Plutko, 26, will be recalled later this week to make what will be his second Major League start. Hoynes notes that Plutko “would appear to be the Tribe’s fifth starter for the time being.”

It’s been a struggle this season for the veteran Tomlin, who has posted a 7.84 ERA in seven appearances, six of which have come out of the rotation. The 33-year-old is demonstrating his typical brand of excellent control (1.7 BB/9), but his 5.2 K/9 mark is his lowest since 2012, and he’s surrendered an unthinkable 15 home runs in 31 innings of work.

Tomlin has spent parts of the past nine seasons on Cleveland’s big league roster, working both in long relief and out of the rotation, so the hope for now seems to be that a move to the relief corps will help him overcome his struggles while giving a younger arm the opportunity to prove himself. The timing of his troubles is hardly ideal, given that he’s set to reach free agency at season’s end, though there’s still more than four months for him to right the ship and return to form.

Plutko was long considered one of the organization’s most promising pitching prospects before a disastrous 2017 season in Triple-A caused his stock to drop. However, after posting an alarming 5.90 ERA in 135 2/3 innings with Columbus last season, Plutko is off to a strong start in 2018, having compiled a tidy 2.25 ERA with 7.2 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and 0.8 HR/9 in 44 innings of Triple-A ball. He’s also already made one spot start for Cleveland this season, holding the Blue Jays to three runs on six hits and no walks with six strikeouts through 7 1/3 innings earlier this month.

[Related: Cleveland Indians depth chart]

The Indians’ rotation remains a strength even in the face of Tomlin’s 2018 struggles, of course. Cleveland starters rank fourth in the Majors with a 3.42 ERA and have thrown the second-most innings of any starting staff in baseball (295), trailing only the Astros. Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger form an enviable top four in the starting mix, but an injury would test the organization’s depth. Prospect Shane Bieber and journeyman Adam Wilk would likely be next in line for a look in the big league rotation, at least based on Triple-A performances.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Lonnie Chisenhall To Begin Rehab Assignment]]> 2018-05-21T04:57:07Z 2018-05-21T04:55:54Z
  • Lonnie Chisenhall is slated to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Monday, Indians manager Terry Francona told media (including Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer).  Chisenhall will only play every other day initially, Francona said, as the outfielder slowly ramps up after missing over six weeks with a strained calf.  It isn’t clear how long it will be before Chisenhall is ready to return to the Tribe’s roster, though the club is in dire need of some help in right and center field.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Indians Select Melky Cabrera, Designate Alexi Ogando]]> 2018-05-21T17:01:16Z 2018-05-20T21:36:25Z 4:36pm: The Indians have indeed optioned Marshall, Hoynes reports. Additionally, the club has designated reliever Alexi Ogando for assignment. Ogando signed a minor league accord with the Indians during the offseason and ended up cracking their roster earlier this month. However, the 34-year-old only made one appearance – a disastrous May 4 outing against the Yankees in which he pitched one frame and allowed two earned runs on two hits and three walks. Ogando took the loss in that game.

    4:12pm: Cabrera will start in right field for Cleveland on Sunday, per Zuppe. It appears the Tribe will option reliever Evan Marshall to open up a 25-man spot for Cabrera, Paul Hoynes of suggests.

    4:02pm: The Indians are set to promote veteran outfielder Melky Cabrera to the majors, T.J. Zuppe of The Athletic tweets. Adding Cabrera wouldn’t require the Indians to make a 40-man roster move, as they currently have a vacancy.

    Even though the 33-year-old Cabrera has enjoyed a successful MLB career, he was one of several notable veterans who didn’t encounter much interest on the free-agent market last offseason. In fact, he went without a contract until the end of April, when the Indians inked him to a minors pact. By making it to Cleveland, Cabrera will be in position to earn at a $1MM rate and have an opportunity to rake in extra cash via incentives.

    Cleveland will be the seventh different major league destination for the switch-hitting Cabrera, who didn’t produce much in 42 plate appearances with its Triple-A affiliate (.286/.286/.381) but does bring a .286/.335/.418 MLB line across 6,852 PAs. He offered similar numbers last year between two of the Indians’ AL Central rivals, the White Sox and Royals, combining to slash .285/.324/.423 with 17 home runs in 666 trips to the plate.

    Cabrera’s 2017 production was more than the Indians have gotten this year from their outfielders, who have combined for a .255/.308/.396 mark in the first month and half of the campaign. Michael Brantley and Tyler Naquin have held their own, but each of Bradley Zimmer, Lonnie Chisenhall, Rajai Davis, Greg Allen and Brandon Guyer have scuffled, and three of those players (Naquin, Zimmer and Chisenhall) are on the disabled list.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Re-Sign Matt Belisle]]> 2018-05-16T14:17:29Z 2018-05-16T14:17:29Z The Indians have announced that righty Matt Belisle is re-joining the organization on a minor-league deal. He’ll begin his tenure at Triple-A.

    It seems that Belisle was not able to find a better opportunity with another club. He opened the year on Cleveland’s active roster after winning a job in camp, but was designated for assignment two weeks ago and thereafter elected free agency.

    Bullpen depth has been an ongoing problem for the Indians, so it’s not surprising to see this move. The club also had an opening at Triple-A after promoting Neil Ramirez to the MLB roster.

    Belisle, who’s closing in on his 38th birthday, had a solid 2017 campaign — in particular, he finished on an excellent run — but was not overly impressive out of the gates this year. In his 10 1/3 innings, he allowed six earned runs on nine hits and a walk. Belisle compiled just four strikeouts in that span, though he did maintain a swinging-strike rate of 9.8% that falls in line with his prior levels.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Place Bradley Zimmer On DL, Select Neil Ramirez]]> 2018-05-15T20:01:50Z 2018-05-15T19:53:57Z The Indians announced today that they’ve placed outfielder Bradley Zimmer on the 10-day DL. He’ll be replaced on the active roster by righty Neil Ramirez, whose contract was selected. Clearing a 40-man spot was accomplished by shifting lefty Ryan Merritt to the 60-day DL.

    Zimmer has been diagnosed with a left rib contusion, which does not seem likely to keep him out for too terribly long. The 25-year-old outfielder has been struggling quite a bit, with a .224/.283/.337 slash and 39 strikeouts through his first 106 plate appearances on the season.

    The 28-year-old Ramirez, meanwhile, will again look to reestablish himself in the majors. He was once a quality pen option with the Cubs but has struggled in recent years. Ramirez was throwing quite well at Triple-A, compiling 17 2/3 innings of 2.55 ERA ball with a whopping 15.8 K/9 against just 1.5 BB/9.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Face Several Roster Needs]]> 2018-05-15T18:45:54Z 2018-05-15T15:13:37Z
  • While the Indians are continuing to lead an uninspiring AL Central division, that doesn’t mean it has been all sunbeams in Cleveland. The organization surely anticipated more than a .500 start through forty games after topping one hundred wins in 2017. But the results largely reflect what has to this point been a fairly middling performance from the roster overall. Zack Meisel of The Athletic (subscription link) takes a look at the big picture, diagnosing the bullpen as one key overarching concern. It’s tough to disagree with that fact given the putrid overall performance from the Indians’ relief unit to date. Adding some arms seems a mid-season given, but Meisel also notes that the club has a similar issue on the position-player side, with a group of top-end stars that has not been supported to this point by the reserves. All said, there seem to be quite a few areas ripe for improvement over the summer, which is obviously not preferable but does leave the club with many potential avenues to seek value.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Undrafted Free Agents, Urshela, Aledmys]]> 2018-05-12T19:29:00Z 2018-05-12T19:29:00Z J.J. Cooper of Baseball America recently answered a question from a Twitter fan about undrafted free agents in MLB. It turns out that there were eight undrafted free agents on MLB rosters at the start of the year, and all eight of them were right-handed pitchers. Unlike football, where there are plenty of UDFA success stories, it’s exceedingly rare for a UDFA to produce significantly at the MLB level. Some outliers include Matt Shoemaker, Miguel Gonzalez, Darren O’Day and Kirby Yates. Of the UDFA’s currently in the majors on opening day, Tigers reliever Joe Jimenez (23 years old) and Rays pitcher Andrew Kittredge (28) are the only players below the age of 30. There are a few more fun facts in Cooper’s piece, making it well worth a full read.

    Other items of note as the Tigers and Mariners prepare for a remarkably cold double-header…

    • The Blue Jays announced earlier today that they’ve activated infielder Gio Urshela and optioned outfielder Dalton Pompey to Triple-A Buffalo. Urshela, 26, was recently acquired for cash (or a player to be named later) after the Indians designated him for assignment earlier this month; he’d been on the DL since the start of the season. While acclaimed as somewhat of a defensive wizard, Urshela carries an anemic bat and has posted a wRC+ of just 57 throughout the course of his major-league career.
    • In other Blue Jays news, shortstop Aledmys Diaz has begun throwing, says Ben Nicholson-Smith of He’s expected to begin hitting later this week. Diaz left last Sunday’s game after spraining his ankle, but it doesn’t appear as though the injury will keep him sidelined for much longer than the ten-day minimum at this point. Diaz was acquired from the Cardinals this offseason in exchange for outfielder J.B. Woodman; the shortstop has hit .216/.273/.431 so far with his new club.
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Injury Notes: Naquin, Graveman, Buchter, Hendriks, Vielma, Alvarez,]]> 2018-05-12T23:22:32Z 2018-05-12T17:23:04Z The Indians have placed outfielder Tyler Naquin on the DL with a left hamstring strain, Jordan Bastian of writes. Naquin limped into second during yesterday’s game while running out a double, and stayed in the game through the remainder of the inning. He was taken out subsequently, though, and sent to get an MRI. There’s no word yet on the severity of Naquin’s injury, nor how long he’ll be out. It’s surely a disappointing development for the Indians; Naquin’s hitting .333/.367/.453 on the year, albeit with an unsustainable .442 BABIP. In a related move, the Indians activated reliever Tyler Olson from the paternity list for today’s game.

    Other injury notes from around the league…

    • Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle provided some injury updates on Athletics players with a pair of tweets today. Right-hander Kendall Graveman is “limping around” after taking a liner off his shin last night. While the situation is reportedly better than expected, the A’s aren’t yet certain whether they’ll need to push back Graveman’s next side session. Meanwhile, Ryan Buchter (shoulder strain) will begin a throwing program next week, and Liam Hendriks (groin strain) is scheduled to throw off a mound today.
    • In Orioles injury news, infielder Engelb Vielma is set to have surgery on his knee (according to Rich Dubroff of He sustained the injury after tripping over a mound while running down a fly ball in foul ground during a minors game, and while it’s not thought to be season-ending, some in the Orioles organization have loudly voiced their frustrations about the circumstances surrounding the injury. Meanwhile, Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun tweets that Pedro Alvarez’ hamstring tightness will hold him out of today’s lineup, though there’s still hope that he could be called upon to hit if needed.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Blue Jays Acquire Gio Urshela]]> 2018-05-09T20:08:54Z 2018-05-09T20:02:23Z The Blue Jays have acquired third baseman Gio Urshela from the Indians, per a club announcement. Cash considerations or a player to be named later will go to Cleveland in return.

    Urshela, 26, had recently been designated for assignment after opening the year on the DL. The out-of-options infielder did take 42 plate appearances at Triple-A on a rehab assignment, slashing .324/.405/.432.

    Though he’s considered a quality defender, Urshela has struggled at the plate in his opportunities in the majors. Over 453 total plate appearances, he carries only a .225/.273/.405 batting line with seven home runs.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Salazar Shut Down For A Week Following PRP Injection]]> 2018-05-09T02:10:03Z 2018-05-09T02:10:03Z
  • Indians right-hander Danny Salazar will  be shut down for at least the next week after receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection in his ailing right shoulder (link via Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer). Salazar was moved to the 60-day disabled list last week and has yet to pitch in the Majors this season due to an impingement in that right shoulder. At this point, there’s clear indication as to when the Indians can plausibly expect him to return to the roster. Mike Clevinger has stepped up and filled Salazar’s rotation spot quite nicely, though the fifth spot in the Cleveland rotation continues to be an issue.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Outright Jeff Beliveau; Matt Belisle Elects Free Agency]]> 2018-05-08T18:05:44Z 2018-05-08T18:05:44Z The Indians have announced the resolutions for two pitchers who were recently designated for assignment. Lefty Jeff Beliveau will remain in the organization after being outrighted, while right-hander Matt Belisle has chosen free agency after he cleared waivers.

    Beliveau has the right to take a trip onto the open market, having previously been outrighted off of a 40-man roster. But he’ll instead stay with Cleveland and hope for another opportunity to open there.

    Though he was knocked around during his brief time in the majors this year, Beliveau is at least a useful depth piece for a relief staff that has endured some early challenges. He also turned in an eye-opening 8 2/3 inning stint at Triple-A to open the season, with a 14:1 K/BB ratio and just two hits on his ledger.

    It seems Belisle will seek better fortunes elsewhere. The 37-year-old has surrendered six earned runs in 10 1/3 innings to open the year, with just one walk but also only four strikeouts. He has appeared in 15 MLB campaigns, working to a cumulative 4.20 ERA in 905 total frames.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Andrew Miller Could Return On Friday]]> 2018-05-07T00:38:05Z 2018-05-07T00:36:04Z
  • Andrew Miller is on track to return from the disabled list on Friday, Indians manager Terry Francona told’s Jordan Bastian and other reporters, provided that Miller gets through another scheduled throwing session on Tuesday without any problems.  Miller already threw one bullpen on Saturday without any ill effects from the hamstring strain that sent him to the DL back on April 26.  Cleveland has sorely missed Miller, as the Tribe’s relievers entered play today with the third-worst bullpen ERA in the game, even before an ugly late-game collapse against the Yankees.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[AL Central Notes: Farquhar, Romero, Goody, Soler]]> 2018-05-05T15:06:45Z 2018-05-05T15:00:16Z Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports shares details of the long road ahead for White Sox reliever Danny Farquhar after the right-hander suffered a recent brain aneurysm. The incident occurred in the Sox dugout just under two weeks ago following an outing against Houston, and caused Farquhar to be hospitalized in what was a scary few hours. As Passan notes, 40% of people who suffer a brain aneurysm don’t survive them, while half of those who survive end up with resulting disabilities. He adds that success in the early stages afterwards is measured in small improvements. Farquhar’s agent says he’s been progressing and has a positive outlook. It’s fair to think it’ll be a significant amount of time before Farquhar is able to pick up a baseball again, but the early signs are encouraging for the right-hander’s health. Passan’s lengthy piece also details some historical precedents for aneurysms in baseball players, as well as the adversity Farquhar has already overcome in his seven-year MLB career. We at MLBTR are relieved to hear that Farquhar is stable, and wish him the best of fortunes in the road to recovery.

    Other items from around the AL Central…

    • Speaking of close calls, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press has a story from Twins rookie Fernando Romero’s past, when the right-hander almost drowned in a hotel pool. It took a while for Romero to gradually overcome his fear of swimming, but he now uses it as a conditioning method to strengthen his shoulder for pitching purposes. Berardino also tells the tale of how Romero nearly went unsigned for an entire international period, failing to receive an offer from any of the 50 scouts in attendance at a showcase. The main knock on him was lack of a “major league body”, and a perceived likelihood that he’d get hurt. Ultimately Romero found his way to the Perfect Game Tournament, where several more scouts were in attendance, and while the Astros made a strong run at him, he ultimately went to the Twins for a signing bonus of $260K.
    • According to Terry Francona (via a tweet from Jordan Bastian of, it’s best-case scenario outcome for Indians reliever Nick Goody, who left the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader with an elbow injury. Tests have revealed no structural damage; it’s thought that Goody’s pain was the result of hyperextending his elbow. He’ll reportedly be shut down for a week and then re-evaluated. It’s a sigh of relief when considering the worst-case scenarios in an elbow-fearing pitching climate; it’s well-known that ligament injuries can result in 12-18 month absences. Goody’s a vital part of a Tribe bullpen that’s recently shuffled through a few low-upside relievers; they’ve designated both Matt Belisle and Jeff Beliveau for assignment in the past week and before that lost Andrew Miller to the DL with a hamstring injury.
    • Jeffrey Flanagan of tells readers about the plate discipline improvements made by Royals outfielder Jorge Soler. In stark contrast to last season, he’s already drawn 18 walks and has seen 4.46 pitches per plate appearance. His .309/.429/.526 slash line on the season is exactly what Kansas City envisioned when they acquired him from the Cubs prior to last season in exchange for closer Wade Davis. Manager Ned Yost credits the improvements to the fact that Soler is “not chasing much of anything”, though it’s certainly worth noting that his chase rate this year is in line with his typically low figures the past few seasons and therefore not indicative of any major changes. I’d add, though, that Soler is certainly seeing more pitches per plate appearance than he did during his injury-riddled 2017 campaign; he’s seen 4.26 PPPA so far, up from 3.99 last season.
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Indians Acquire Oliver Drake From Brewers]]> 2018-05-05T14:40:04Z 2018-05-05T13:57:39Z Right-hander Oliver Drake, whom the Brewers designated for assignment on Tuesday, has been traded to the Indians for cash considerations. The move was announced by Milwaukee via its Twitter account. The Indians have yet to announce a corresponding move.

    On the surface, it’s not difficult to understand why the Brewers designated Drake for assignment; he sports an alarming 6.70 ERA on the season while walking a whopping 8 batters in just 12 2/3 innings on the young season. But while the walk rate is certainly a valid concern, the bloated ERA can be blamed in part on an absurd .400 batting average on balls in play against the righty. That’s been one contributing factor towards a 59.1% strand rate; league average usually sits around 70-72%, while Drake’s career average comes in just under that range at 67.7%. In short, he certainly has nobody to blame but himself for the runners he put on base via free passes, but he’s also suffered from some considerably poor fortune as far as those runners crossing the plate.

    The positive signs offer some encouragement for Drake’s outlook with his new club. His 10.66 K/9 so far is a career-high mark, about a batter per nine above his career rate of 10.11. He’s also induced ground balls from 52.9% of opposing hitters this season, which sits just outside the top 25% of qualified relievers in MLB. And while Drake’s 6.70 ERA on the year is an eyesore, his 2.70 FIP is a much more palatable figure and suggests he’s likely to make some improvements in the run-prevention arena.

    If he can just improve his control a bit, it’s certainly possible the Indians could end up with another surprise diamond in the rough, as they did last year with both Nick Goody and Tyler Olson. That would be a welcome sigh of relief for a club that’s feeling the pains of losing relief ace Andrew Miller to the DL; their bullpen sports an ERA north of nine in his absence and has shuffled through a small army of relievers in the past four days alone (as’s Jordan Bastian recently noted). Regardless of whether Drake can perform at a high level, it’s a low-risk move for a club in desperate need of some stability in its relief corps.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Designate Jeff Beliveau, Gio Urshela; Select Alexi Ogando]]> 2018-05-04T19:58:22Z 2018-05-04T19:48:29Z The Indians have made some roster tweaks today, per a club announcement, with right-hander Alexi Ogando joining the active roster after his contract was selected. Meanwhile, southpaw Jeff Beliveau and third baseman Gio Urshela were designated for assignment (the latter upon his activation from the DL).

    Ogando, 34, makes his return to the majors after spending the 2017 season with Korea’s Hanwha Eagles. He worked as a starter in the KBO after three campaigns functioning exclusively from the pen, and has remained in the rotation since joining the Cleveland organization on a minors deal.

    In four starts this year at Triple-A, Ogando has compiled 18 2/3 innings of 2.89 ERA ball with 6.8 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9. The debate over his role with the Indians won’t be as strident as it was back when he was a quality young pitcher for the Rangers, but it seems Ogando could either move into a traditional relief role or be utilized as a swingman.

    Things have not gone well thus far for Beliveau, who had earned a promotion with a compelling showing to open the year at Columbus. In 3 1/3 innings since moving to the majors, he has allowed four earned runs on five hits and four walks while recording only a pair of strikeouts.

    The decision to place Urshela in DFA limbo is somewhat more interesting, as he has been considered a part of the team’s MLB depth in recent seasons. That said, it’s hardly surprising that the Indians lost patience. While Urshela is regarded as a quality fielder, he has not produced at the plate in limited MLB action. In his 42 rehab plate appearances this season at Triple-A, though, Urshela turned in a useful .324/.405/.432 bating line.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Select Contract Of Evan Marshall, Put Nick Goody On DL]]> 2018-05-04T00:21:20Z 2018-05-04T00:21:20Z The Indians have not wasted any time in moving righty Nick Goody to the 10-day DL after he exited tonight’s contest in obvious pain. As’s Jordan Bastian tweets, Goody been diagnosed with elbow inflammation for the time being, but will undergo further testing.

    To take his place on the active roster, the Indians will select the contract of right-hander Evan Marshall. That requires a 40-man spot, which has been created by shifting Danny Salazar to the 60-day DL.

    The 26-year-old Goody had turned in a breakout 2017 season, working to a 2.80 ERA with 11.9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 over 54 2/3 innings. But he had stumbled a bit early this year, allowing seven earned runs on 13 hits (including three home runs) and five walks in 11 innings, over which he compiled 11 strikeouts.

    Marshall, 28, has struggled badly in the majors ever since his strong 2014 debut campaign. Since that time, he has allowed 32 earned runs — with a 20:18 K/BB ratio — in 36 1/3 frames. That said, he’s also throwing the ball well at present at Triple-A, allowing just one earned run and issuing only a single free pass in his 10 2/3 innings.

    The move on Salazar, meanwhile, is not terribly surprising given that he has yet to begin a rehab assignment. It’s not clear what kind of timeline he’s on at present in working back from shoulder problems, but it already seemed likely he’d miss at least the first two months of the season.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Designate Matt Belisle]]> 2018-05-02T16:04:27Z 2018-05-02T15:27:32Z The Indians have designated righty Matt Belisle for assignment, as’s Jordan Bastian reports on Twitter. He’ll be replaced on the active roster by fellow right-hander Ben Taylor.

    Belisle, 37, cracked the Indians’ Opening Day roster but has not impressed out of the gates. He has allowed six earned runs and managed just four strikeouts in his 10 1/3 innings of work though he has maintained his typical fastball velocity (91 mph) and swinging-strike rate (9.8%).

    It is not known whether the veteran hurler signed an advanced consent clause, but if so, the organization may simply have decided to cut him loose rather than promising him a salary for the remainder of the season. Belisle’s minors deal called for him to earn at a $1.5MM rate with up to $1.75MM in incentives.

    As for Taylor, he was claimed off waivers from the Red Sox during camp. The 26-year-old has turned in an eye-opening start to the season at Triple-A. Through 10 1/3 frames, he has recorded 16 strikeouts against a single walk while generating grounders on nearly half of the balls put in play against him.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 5/1/18]]> 2018-05-01T15:16:21Z 2018-05-01T15:16:21Z Here are some recent minor moves from around the game:

    • The Rockies announced Monday that right-hander Zach Jemiola cleared waivers yesterday and has re-signed a new minor league deal with the club. Jemiola, 24, was a ninth-round pick of the Rockies back in 2012 but found himself protected from the Rule 5 Draft after turning in a pair of solid seasons in A-ball and Double-A, respectively, in 2015 and 2016. Jemiola faltered with a 6.48 ERA in 93 innings last season, however, though he did turn in a solid showing in the Arizona Fall League (2.74 ERA, 19 strikeouts, nine walks in 23 innings), perhaps creating additional optimism that he can yet be a contributor for the Rox at the big league level. Now on a new minor league contract, he’ll return to the only organization he’s known and serve as continued depth for the organization.
    • Lefty Jack Leathersich will remain with the Indians after clearing waivers and being outrighted, the club announced. Though the 27-year-old has shown he can get swings and misses from major-league hitters, he has also struggled to control the number of walks he issues. Both aspects of the southpaw’s game have been on display early in 2018, as he compiled a 10:7 K/BB ratio in six innings at Triple-A. That showing caused the Cleveland organization to bump him from the 40-man roster, but also helped get him through waivers after he had been claimed several times previously.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Is Josh Tomlin Approaching A Crossroads?]]> 2018-04-30T17:10:17Z 2018-04-30T17:10:17Z Right-hander Josh Tomlin could be approaching a crossroads in his career with the Indians, writes Zack Meisel of The Athletic (subscription link). The 33-year-old has made four starts this season and surrendered at least five runs in each of them, totaling 19 earned runs in 17 2/3 innings of work out of the rotation. Tomlin’s starts have too often put a tax on the bullpen, Meisel writes, and haven’t given a struggling Indians lineup the ability to compete to keep the game close. Injuries to Danny Salazar and Ryan Merritt have preserved Tomlin’s spot for now, but his road won’t get any easier moving forward, as his next start is set to come at Yankee Stadium. Tomlin, it should be noted, has had plenty of sustained success in the big leagues and posted excellent K/BB numbers in 2016-17 while making 55 largely serviceable starts in the Cleveland rotation. However, Meisel posits that one of Adam Plutko, Shane Bieber or veteran Alexi Ogando could be looked at as an alternative sooner rather than later if Tomlin isn’t able to return to form.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Indians Offered Carlos Santana Three-Year Deal in $40MM Range]]> 2018-04-28T23:38:14Z 2018-04-28T23:22:17Z
  • The Indians tried to retain first baseman Carlos Santana with a three-year offer in the $40MM range before he joined the Phillies on a three-year, $60MM deal in the offseason, Terry Pluto of reports. The Indians ultimately replaced Santana with Yonder Alonso, who landed a two-year, $16MM pact, after considering fellow free agents Lucas Duda and Logan Morrison, per Pluto. The most productive member of that group this season has been Alonso, who has batted .239/.292/.534 (119 wRC+) with eight home runs in his first 96 plate trips as an Indian.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Place Andrew Miller On 10-Day DL, Purchase Contract Of Jeff Beliveau]]> 2018-05-01T15:09:27Z 2018-04-26T18:10:03Z The Indians have announced that star reliever Andrew Miller is heading to the 10-day DL with a strained hamstring. Replacing him on the active roster will be southpaw Jeff Beliveau, while fellow lefty Jack Leathersich was designated for assignment to open a 40-man spot.

    Miller suffered the injury in last night’s game. Its full severity is not yet known, so it’s also unclear how long he’ll be down. The 32-year-old has been in typically dominant form thus far in 2018, producing a 17:4 K/BB ratio in ten scoreless innings.

    He’ll be replaced for the time being with Beliveau, who had joined the Cleveland organization on a minors deal over the offseason. The 31-year-old had a compelling but brief run in the Rays bullpen back in 2014 but has since been ineffective in limited opportunities at the game’s highest level.

    That said, Beliveau did record 17 strikeouts in his 15 2/3 innings last year with the Blue Jays. And he was off to quite the start this year at Triple-A. In 8 2/3 frames over seven appearances, the former 18th-round pick has racked up 14 punchouts while permitting two hits, one walk, and no runs.

    As for Leathersich, who was claimed from the Pirates late this spring, he has not shown well in his time at Columbus. The 27-year-old has recorded nine strikeouts and has allowed just three hits through five frames over seven appearances, but has also permitted six earned runs by virtue of issuing seven free passes.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Sign Melky Cabrera]]> 2018-04-25T22:11:04Z 2018-04-25T22:10:32Z WEDNESDAY: The signing is now official. Per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter), the contract allows Cabrera to earn $100K at 200 MLB plate appearances and then $150K apiece if he can make it to 250, 300, 350, 400, 450, and/or 500 trips to the dish. The opt-out date is June 1st.

    TUESDAY: Cabrera can earn at a $1MM annual rate and achieve up to another million in incentives, on Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. There’s an opt-out date as well, though full details remain unreported.

    MONDAY: The Indians have reportedly agreed to a minor-league deal with veteran outfielder Melky Cabrera. Tenchy Rodriguez of ESPN Deportes Radio first tweeted the news.

    Cabrera, 33, went unsigned over the just-completed offseason after a poor finish to his 2017 campaign with the Royals. But he had been an above-average offensive performer in the first half of the season and ended with an overall .285/.324/.423 slash line and 17 home runs for the year.

    The switch-hitting Cabrera has turned in quality output at times with the bat, with approximately equal success against both left- and right-handed pitching, though he has rarely strung together good seasons in succession. In his thirteen total seasons at the game’s highest level, he carries a cumulative .286/.335/.418 batting line with 131 home runs. Cabrera has never been regarded highly for his glovework, though, and has also graded poorly on the bases in recent seasons.

    Despite the inconsistencies, Cabrera’s most recent contract prior to this one paid him rather handsomely. On the heels of a quality 2014 effort with the Blue Jays, he inked a three-year, $42MM deal with the White Sox.

    For the Indians, there’s little risk in giving Cabrera a shot at rediscovering his offensive form. While the club is pacing the AL Central, they have just three players currently sporting above-average overall work at the plate. Cabrera could provide an option as a DH or in the corner outfield, though he’ll surely need some time ramping up before he’ll be ready to join the MLB roster.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Indians Acquire Jon Berti]]> 2018-04-22T12:57:59Z 2018-04-21T23:58:49Z
  • The Indians have acquired utility player Jon Berti from the Blue Jays for cash considerations, according to announcements from both teams. Berti will join Triple-A Columbus with Cleveland, which will be his second organization since Toronto chose him in the 18th round of the 2011 draft. The 28-year-old Berti ascended to Triple-A in 2015 and has since hit .212/.282/.314 in 433 PAs at the minors’ highest level.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Quick Hits: BLA, Hernandez, Napoli]]> 2018-04-21T15:56:35Z 2018-04-21T15:56:35Z Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic recently did a deep dive into the company known as Big League Advance, whose business model involves lump sum payments to minor-leaguers in exchange for a percentage of their future earnings. MLBTR readers might best know BLA as the company entrenched in a legal battle with top prospect Francisco Mejia of the Indians. Rosenthal’s piece goes into detail far beyond Mejia alone, and he notes at one point that BLA claims to have recently signed its 100th player. Players such as Fernando Tatis Jr. and Jose Osuna have benefitted from the lump sum payments BLA offers; the former is using the money to invest in his health, nutrition and conditioning, while the latter claims the money allows him to focus on baseball by reducing the stress of wondering how he’ll support his family. Others around baseball, however, claim that BLA uses predatory tactics to pressure young players into giving up significant money on the whole; indeed they’ve admitted to intentionally bypassing agents to talk with players directly. It seems that the major focus of Rosenthal’s piece is the upside and downside of BLA’s presence in baseball. My biggest takeaway from reading the piece is that there ought to be a serious discussion in the near future about how (or if) MLB ought to be involved in regulating companies like BLA.

    More from around the league…

    • It was widely assumed that Scott Kingery’s surprise extension and resulting presence on the Phillies’ MLB roster would sap at least some playing time from incumbent second baseman Cesar Hernandez. That hasn’t been the case, as’s Todd Zolecki points out. Hernandez has actually started 18 of 19 games for the club this season, and while Kingery is a second baseman by trade, he’s played that position just twice so far at the MLB level. Instead, he’s spent time at shortstop, third and right field. Zolecki posits that while Hernandez may have seemed like an obvious trade deadline candidate at the season’s outset, it’s now difficult to see the Phillies dealing him due to his offensive impact and the uncertainty surrounding Maikel Franco and J.P. Crawford. Manager Gabe Kapler’s comments certainly strengthen that line of thinking: “We knew how Cesar’s track record suggested that he’s one of the better second baseman in baseball,” he said. “And now we’re blessed to see it every single day. It’s really exciting to look out there and see a guy that consistent. It’s really nice for a manager to have Cesar at the top of the lineup.”
    • Mike Napoli’s season-ending surgery obviously doesn’t necessarily mean the end of his career. But Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal has some interesting comments from Terry Francona suggesting that he believes Napoli (who was playing with the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate prior to the injury) will be an excellent coach if and when the time comes for him to hang up his spikes. “I’m not saying he’s done playing, I just mean if he chooses to start to be on this side of the field, my guess is he’ll be even better than he was as a player,” Francona said. It’s certainly a fair point; Napoli is well-known for his clubhouse leadership, and especially in Cleveland during their 2016 playoff run.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mike Napoli Suffers Torn ACL, Meniscus In Right Knee]]> 2018-04-20T15:11:17Z 2018-04-20T15:09:36Z April 20: The Indians announced that Napoli has a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee that will require season-ending surgery. The procedure comes with an estimated recovery time of anywhere from 10 to 14 months, per’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter link).

    April 18: The Indians announced that veteran first baseman Mike Napoli suffered a “significant” right knee injury while playing with their Triple-A club in Columbus last night. He’s expected to miss an “extended amount of time,” per the team, though specifics of his timeline or the nature of the injury remain unclear.

    Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer quotes Indians skipper Terry Francona in relaying that Napoli was injured when chasing down a foul pop early in the game (Twitter link). The injury sounds grim, as’s Jordan Bastian adds that Francona suggested that if this proves to be the end of Napoli’s playing career, he has the ability to “make an impact” on the game in his post-playing days.

    The 36-year-old Napoli signed a minor league contract with Cleveland this offseason and agreed to report to Triple-A when he didn’t make the club in Spring Training. He’s gotten off to a 1-for-24 start, though his lone hit was a home run and he’s also drawn seven walks.

    Napoli was a fan favorite virtually everywhere he’s played later in his career and was especially popular in his first stint with Cleveland in 2016, when he hit .239/.335/.465 with 34 homers and helped the Indians reach the World Series. His 2017 season with the Rangers wasn’t as successful, as he posted a more tepid .193/.285/.428 slash with a career-worst 33.6 percent strikeout rate.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Indians Notes: Urshela, Gonzalez, JDM]]> 2018-04-15T17:28:32Z 2018-04-15T17:28:05Z
  • With Gio Urshela nearing a return from the disabled list, it’s likely the Indians will soon have to decide between him and fellow out-of-options infielder Erik Gonzalez, Ben Weinrib of writes. Attempting to send either Urshela or Gonzalez to the minors would leave that player exposed to waivers. Cleveland has been able to put off an Urshela-Gonzalez choice since last month because of the right hamstring strain the former suffered, but he started a rehab assignment Friday and is on track to come back within the next couple weeks. If the Indians make this call based on career offensive production, the edge goes to Gonzalez. While he’s only a .250/.275/.386 hitter in 139 plate appearances, that easily outdoes Urshela’s .225/.273/.314 line in 453 PAs.
  • More on the Indians, who tried to bolster their World Series chances last year with a J.D. Martinez deadline addition. They were in on the slugging outfielder before the division-rival Tigers shipped him to Arizona in mid-July, Paul Hoynes of reports. The Indians ultimately ended up getting fellow outfielder Jay Bruce a couple weeks later in a deal with the Mets, and while he was effective in Cleveland, Martinez was otherworldly in regular-season action with Arizona. Still, the Martinez-less Indians managed a ridiculous 22 consecutive victories from late August through mid-September en route to a 102-win campaign. Further, it’s anyone’s guess whether Martinez would’ve made a bigger difference in their five-game ALDS loss to the Yankees than Bruce, who slashed .278/.333/.667 with two home runs in 18 at-bats. Martinez, now with the Red Sox, ended his short D-backs career with a .267/.313/.467 line and a homer in 15 ABs in their four-game NLDS loss to the Dodgers.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Prospect Francisco Mejia Embroiled In Legal Dispute Over Future Earnings]]> 2018-04-17T00:01:26Z 2018-04-14T05:07:47Z Indians prospect Francisco Mejia, who is generally considered one of the game’s very best prospects, has brought suit against an entity known as Big League Advance, according to a report from’s Jerry Crasnick. The litigation seeks to set aside a series of contracts between Mejia and BLA.

    The precise nature of the agreements is itself evidently a subject of the lawsuit. Generally, though, the arrangement was for Mejia to receive a payment ($360K in this case) in exchange for a portion (10%) of his future earnings. Mejia clams the up-front money was in the nature of a loan, whereas BLA characterizes it as a no-strings-attached payment.

    This general scheme shares plenty in common with Fantex, which previously struck some notable bargains with young MLB players. Of course, that company originally sought to sell “shares” of its investments to the general public, a novel marketing concept that seems not to have worked in practice. The BLA approach appears to be more of a hedge fund model and is (per its website) focused on pre-MLB players. Unlike players who are already in the majors, many prospects’ earnings are somewhat less certain and presumably can, therefore, be secured for lesser investments.

    Unsurprisingly, Mejia’s allegations paint a less savory account of BLA’s business model than would the entity itself. CEO Michael Schwimer, a former MLB pitcher, denied that the organization utilizes abusive recruitment tactics and disputes certain elements of Mejia’s claims in particular. Crasnick ticks through some of the chief allegations. Whether or not the contract is enforceable will ultimately be decided by the pending court case, which is only just getting underway, unless the sides agree instead to a settlement.

    Whether or not Mejia will be bound by this agreement is itself of note, as he’s a significant player who is expected to have a chance at staking a claim to a regular MLB job in short order. (Indeed, he already touched the bigs last year, leading BLA to seek its first payment.) But the lawsuit is potentially also of broader consequences, as it could have implications for the still-uncertain development of this model of outside investment in professional athletes’ future earnings.

    Most notably, perhaps, is the simple fact that this sort of agreement was struck in the first place. Unlike the Fantex situation, BLA seemingly has not sought visibility. Indeed, it asks in a counterclaim for an injunction forbidding Mejia from publicizing his interactions with BLA. But it certainly seems this isn’t an isolated matter. The entity’s website claims that it has arrangements with at least three (anonymous) players who have reached the majors since originally signing with BLA. The site also quotes some unattributed statements of gratitude from those players.

    As all this is going on, the 22-year-old Mejia is trying to force his way into the Indians’ immediate plans. He’s off to a tepid start at Triple-A and still doesn’t have a clear position at the game’s highest level. (A catcher by trade, Mejia is also working in the outfield at Columbus.) But most evaluators expect the youngster to establish himself before long as a high-quality hitter at the game’s highest level.

    Prospect rankings — including Baseball Prospectus (#5), (#7), (#11), and Baseball America (#20) — unanimously value Mejia as a top-end talent. He’s obviously already on the verge of drawing a major-league salary. Certainly, there’s every chance that ten percent of his eventual earnings will turn out to be quite a tidy return on the initial investment reputedly embodied in the contract that’s now in dispute.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Lonnie Chisenhall Out 4-6 Weeks With Calf Strain]]> 2018-04-08T15:52:55Z 2018-04-08T15:52:55Z Days after getting outfielder Michael Brantley back from the disabled list, the Indians have learned that they’ll be without right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall for four to six weeks. Jordan Bastian of first tweeted the timetable, which came from the mouth of Indians manager Terry Francona. Chisenhall left Saturday’s game against the Royals early, and was officially placed on the disabled list early this morning (the club recalled Tyler Naquin to take his place in right field for the time being).

    It’s an upsetting development for the Tribe, who saw Chisenhall miss significant time last season with the same issue. The re-aggravation of the injury during a seemingly routine few innings in right field doesn’t bode well for Chisenhall’s 2018 season. The timing is also unfortunate for him financially, as he’s set to become a free agent this winter and would like to erase the injury concerns from the memories of potential suitors.

    Chisenhall was a notable beneficiary of the fly ball revolution last season, as he decreased his ground ball rate from 23.9% in 2016 to just 15.8% in 2017, and correspondingly increased his line drive rate and fly ball rate by four percentage points apiece. That adjustment resulted in a career-best .288/.360/.520 batting line. The Indians will certainly be hoping they can get his bat back in the lineup on the shorter end of the injury timetable.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Injury Notes: Powell, Ramirez, Blackmon, Rodriguez, Indians]]> 2018-04-08T13:58:38Z 2018-04-08T13:58:38Z Athletics outfielder Boog Powell is headed to the DL after suffering a knee sprain, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The left-handed-hitting Powell has hit just .167/.200/.292 in the first week of the season, though he did impress with a 135 wRC+ in limited action with the A’s last season. Powell beat out top prospect Dustin Fowler for the starting center field job during spring training, but he’ll now be absent for at least ten days while rehabbing.

    Other injury notes from around baseball…

    • Maria Guardado of tweets that Angels righty J.C. Ramirez exited his most recent start with “forearm tightness”. It’s highly disturbing news for the Halos; Ramirez was diagnosed with a partially-torn UCL in his throwing elbow last season, but elected to go with stem cell surgery rather than opt for a Tommy John procedure. Ramirez has thrown 6 2/3 innings this season; he’s struck out four opposing hitters while allowing seven earned runs on seven hits and seven walks.
    • Rockies star Charlie Blackmon is dealing with some back spasms, but told reporters he is not injured (h/t Nick Groke of the Denver Post). “It was a little bit tight for most of the game and kept getting tighter. I’ve dealt with it before and been all right.” Blackmon, of course, just signed an extension with Colorado and is a key component to their contention plans this season.
    • The Red Sox have officially activated left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez from the 10-day disabled list. Right-hander Marcus Walden has been optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket in a related move. Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald writes that Hector Velazquez and Brian Johnson are expected to pitch out of the bullpen for the time being, as the Sox have a number of off days coming up; those days will eliminate the need for a fifth starter for the time being. The 25-year-old pitched to a 4.19 ERA last season in 137 1/3 innings last season, and is coming off a winter knee surgery.
    • Jordan Bastian of has the latest updates on a number of Indians injuries. Right-hander Danny Salazar (shoulder) is still unable to throw off a mound with “full intensity”, so he’s still a few weeks away from game activity. Third baseman Giovanny Urshela (hamstring), on the other hand, is just a week away from possibly starting a minor-league rehab assignment. Left-hander Ryan Merritt (knee) has resumed throwing and is scheduled to pitch an extended spring game on Wednesday, while righty Cody Anderson (elbow) is finally back to throwing off a mound following Tommy John surgery in March of 2017; he’s “several week away” from potential game activity. Of these four players, only Anderson has a minor-league option remaining, meaning the Tribe will be facing a significant roster crunch in the near future. In other Tribe injury news, Lonnie Chisenhall has officially been placed on the 10-day DL. Tyler Naquin has been recalled from Triple-A Columbus to take his place (h/t Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Lonnie Chisenhall Likely Headed To DL]]> 2018-04-09T20:19:08Z 2018-04-08T03:26:19Z
  • Indians outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall suffered a right calf injury Saturday and will likely head to the disabled list, manager Terry Francona told Joe Noga of and other reporters. Chisenhall previously missed 45 games last year with a right calf issue, notes Noga, who adds that the Indians could recall Tyler Naquin from Triple-A to take his place. Naquin went to the minors Friday to make room for the just-activated Michael Brantley.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Details On The Indians' Offer To Jay Bruce]]> 2018-04-07T20:02:39Z 2018-04-07T20:02:39Z
  • Heyman provides some new details on Jay Bruce’s free agent market, reporting that the Indians offered Bruce a two-year, $18MM deal while the Blue Jays discussed a one-year deal in the range of $5MM-$7MM.  It’s interesting to note that both teams ended up signing somewhat similar veteran left-handed bats for similar price points — Cleveland inked Yonder Alonso for two years and $16MM in guaranteed money, while Toronto signed Curtis Granderson to a one-year, $5MM deal.  The Jays didn’t actually make Bruce an offer, however, and neither did the Astros, though they also had some talks with Bruce about a two-year deal.  Heyman speculates that Houston may have been considering Bruce only if top prospect Derek Fisher was dealt, and thus the Astros’ interest waned since they were able to acquire Gerrit Cole without parting ways with the young outfielder.  As it turned out, Bruce ended up landing a three-year, $39MM deal to return to the Mets.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Activate Michael Brantley]]> 2018-04-06T15:51:27Z 2018-04-06T15:51:27Z The Indians announced that they’ve activated outfielder Michael Brantley from the 10-day disabled list. Fellow outfielder Tyler Naquin was optioned to Triple-A Columbus to clear a spot on the 25-man roster for Brantley, who’d opened the year on the DL while finalizing his recovery from offseason ankle surgery.

    Durability has been a major concern for Brantley in recent years, as he’s undergone a pair of shoulder operations in addition to this offseason’s ankle surgery. Those ailments combined to limit the 30-year-old to just 101 games since Opening Day 2016.

    Given Brantley’s recent rash of injuries, it’s easy to forget just how great of a player he can be at full strength. Long a quality outfield piece in Cleveland, “Dr. Smooth” broke out as one of the American League’s best all-around players in a 2014 season that saw him finish third in the AL MVP race after posting a superlative .327/.385/.506 batting line with a league-leading 45 doubles, 20 homers and 23 steals. Brantley followed that up with a similarly excellent .310/.379/.480 slash the following season and looked to be an emerging star before initially injuring his shoulder while diving for a catch in the left-center gap at Target Field in Minneapolis that September.

    His injury troubles notwithstanding, Brantley saw his $12MM club option exercised by the Indians last November. Given the offseason surgery and the manner in which corner outfielders were further devalued in free agency this winter, the Cleveland front office may prefer a mulligan on that decision, though Brantley was worth more than $12MM in just 90 games last season when he hit .290/.357/.444 with 20 doubles, nine homers and 11 steals.

    The 2018 season will be a crucial one for Brantley, whose contract expires at season’s end. If he can steer clear of the DL for the first time since 2014 and convince clubs that his shoulder and ankle are largely healthy, then it stands to reason that a player with his ability and track record could land a nice multi-year deal in his first foray into the open market. If the 2018 season is again marred by injuries, however, that outcome seems decidedly less likely.

    As for Naquin, he’ll head back to Columbus and hope for yet another opportunity to prove that his terrific 2016 campaign wasn’t a fluke. The former first-rounder had seen his prospect star fade but was called upon in the wake of Brantley’s injuries and capitalized in surprising fashion. Through 365 plate appearances that season, Naquin slashed .296/.372/.514 with 14 homers — good enough to finish third in AL Rookie of the Year voting. That production, though, was accompanied by a sky-high .411 BABIP and 30.7 percent strikeout rate, so it’s perhaps not hard to see why the Indians remain unconvinced that he can replicate those numbers.

    [Related: Cleveland Indians depth chart]

    Naquin has since been leapfrogged by Bradley Zimmer on the team’s depth chart, and with Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall, Rajai Davis and Brandon Guyer rounding out the big league outfield. Brantley, Chisenhall, Davis and possibly Guyer ($3MM club option) are all free agents after the 2018 season, though, so keeping Naquin on hand as depth makes sense for Cleveland.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Royals Claim Abraham Almonte, Designate Miguel Almonte For Assignment]]> 2018-04-02T19:15:14Z 2018-04-02T18:50:54Z The Royals have claimed outfielder Abraham Almonte off waivers from the Indians and designated right-hander Miguel Almonte for assignment, tweets’s Jeffrey Flanagan. Cleveland had designated the former of the two for assignment when setting its Opening Day roster.

    Abraham Almonte, 28, was on the outside looking in of a jam-packed outfield mix in Cleveland. He’ll have a clearer path to playing time in Kansas City, where Jon Jay, Alex Gordon, Jorge Soler and Paulo Orlando comprise the primary outfield unit in the Majors in the wake of Jorge Bonifacio’s 80-game PED suspension. The switch-hitting Almonte had a strong half-season showing for the Tribe in 2015 but missed half the 2016 campaign due to an 80-game PED suspension and hit just .249/.304/.384 in 389 plate appearances from 2016-17.

    As for Miguel Almonte, who’ll turn 25 on Wednesday, the hard-throwing righty has long ranked as one of the Royals’ top organizational prospects, but his star has faded in recent seasons. He’s tossed 10 2/3 innings in the Majors between 2015-17, but he’s yet to establish himself at the game’s top level. Injuries have played a massive role in stalling the younger Almonte’s development. Last season, he threw just two innings with Kansas City’s Triple-A affiliate in Omaha, and Flanagan tweets today that Almonte had been ticketed for the minor league disabled list to open the season due to posterior shoulder soreness.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Is 2018 The Tribe's Best Chance At A Title?]]> 2018-04-02T03:11:59Z 2018-04-02T03:11:59Z
  • “If the Indians were a high school team, this would be their senior year,” Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes, acknowledging that this might be the Tribe’s best chance at a championship given how many key players are scheduled for free agency after the season.  Andrew Miller, Michael Brantley, Cody Allen, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Josh Tomlin are just a few of the prominent names set to hit the open market, and re-signing some or even any could be difficult given Cleveland’s small-market realities.  Despite this, Miller believes that “from an organization standpoint, I don’t think a window is closing” since the Tribe still has the likes of Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, and much of their rotation returning.  “There’s a track record here for the way they do things….The way they develop players, the way they prepare them, as long as you have Tito (Terry Francona) at the helm, they’re going to be good,” Miller said.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Danny Salazar Out For At Least The Next Few Weeks]]> 2018-04-01T00:46:08Z 2018-04-01T00:46:15Z
  • It doesn’t look as if Indians righty Danny Salazar will return in the near future. He’s slated to stay in Arizona for the next month on a throwing program, Jordan Bastian of suggests. The 28-year-old Salazar has been on the shelf since he suffered an onset of right shoulder rotator cuff inflammation in January. The hard-throwing Salazar also missed significant time last season (six weeks) because of shoulder issues.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Designate Abraham Almonte, Ben Taylor]]> 2018-03-29T17:00:46Z 2018-03-29T15:44:55Z The Indians have designated outfielder Abraham Almonte and right-hander Ben Taylor for assignment in order to clear roster spots for veterans Matt Belisle and Rajai Davis, whose contracts have been selected from Triple-A Columbus. Michael Brantley, Giovanny Urshela, Danny Salazar and Ryan Merritt will open the season on the 10-day disabled list.

    Davis will return for a second tour of duty in Cleveland, where he’s already established himself in Indians lore thanks to his dramatic Game 7 home run off Aroldis Chapman in the 2016 World Series. Davis paced the AL with 43 steals for Cleveland that season, and he racked up 29 steals with just 366 plate appearances between the A’s and Red Sox last season. Now 37 years of age, he’ll give the Indians plenty of speed off the bench and an established bat against left-handed pitching.

    Belisle, meanwhile, gives manager Terry Francona a veteran bullpen arm that struggled early in the 2017 campaign with the Twins but rebounded to dominate over the season’s final four months. Over his final 38 1/3 innings last year, Belisle worked to a 1.41 ERA with a terrific 36-to-8 K/BB ratio and just four homers allowed. Following the trade of Brandon Kintzler to the Nationals, Belisle picked up nine saves as the closer in Minnesota.

    Almonte, 28, was on the outside looking in for a Cleveland outfield mix that features Bradley Zimmer, Tyler Naquin, Lonnie Chisenhall, Brandon Guyer, Davis and, once he’s healthy, Brantley. The switch-hitting Almonte had a strong half-season showing for the Tribe in 2015 but missed half the 2016 campaign due to an 80-game PED suspension and hit just .249/.304/.384 in 389 plate appearances from 2016-17.

    The 26-year-old Taylor was a seventh-round pick of the Red Sox in 2015. He saw his first major league action last season and tossed 17 1/3 innings of 5.19 ERA, notching 9.35 K/9, 4.67 BB/9 and a paltry 26.4 percent ground-ball rate along the way. Taylor was more successful in his Triple-A debut in 2017, albeit over an even smaller sample (13 1/3 frames), as he worked to a 2.70 ERA with 8.1 K/9, 3.38 BB/9 and a 45.5 percent grounder mark.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Indians Had Extension Talks With Lindor, Bauer]]> 2018-03-28T04:59:16Z 2018-03-28T04:55:40Z It doesn’t look like the Indians will reach any extensions with Francisco Lindor or Trevor Bauer before the season begins, though the team did at least explore the possibility of long-term deals with both players, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes.  It isn’t any surprise that the Tribe looked into gaining some cost certainty on either man even though Bauer is already controlled through the 2020 season and Lindor through 2021.  In the latter’s case, Lindor is still a year away from salary arbitration, though one wonders if Lindor may feel confident enough in his abilities to forego guaranteed money now and wait until free agency to chase an even bigger contract.  He already turned down an extension offer reportedly worth around $100MM last offseason, and his stock has only risen after a superb 2017 campaign.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Claim Jack Leathersich, Trade Rob Refsnyder To Rays]]> 2018-03-27T20:54:16Z 2018-03-27T20:07:31Z The Indians announced a series of moves this afternoon, including a claim of lefty Jack Leathersich from the Pirates.  (The @RedSoxStats Twitter feed was first to report the claim earlier today.)  A 40-man spot for Leathersich was opened by shipping infielder/outfielder Rob Refsnyder to the Rays in exchange for cash.

    In other news, Cleveland announced that righty Jordan Milbrath — who was taken in the Rule 5 draft in December — was returned by the Pirates after clearing waivers. Finally, veteran infielder Adam Rosales is joining the Indians on a minors deal.

    Refsnyder was out of options, and thus the Tribe at least managed to get some money back for him rather than simply losing the utilityman if exposed to waivers.  Refsnyder had been battling for a backup infield job in camp, though it appears Erik Gonzalez has won that role.  Cleveland looks to be carrying five outfielders, with right-handed hitters Rajai Davis and Brandon Guyer (if healthy) balancing out lefty-swingers Lonnie Chisenhall, Tyler Naquin, and Bradley Zimmer, with Michael Brantley eventually joining the mix once he returns from the disabled list.

    Once a well-regarded prospect in the Yankees’ system, Refsnyder has yet to produce much over parts of three MLB seasons, with just a .233/.306/.311 slash line over 320 career plate appearances.  He can offer a versatile glove capable of playing second base, first base, and both corner outfield slots, so he gives Tampa Bay another multi-position bench option next to Daniel Robertson.  The Rays had been looking for a right-handed outfield bat, so Refsnyder fills that need, even if he has yet to display much hitting stroke as a big leaguer.

    Rosales was recently released from a minor league deal with the Phillies and it didn’t take him long to catch on elsewhere, as Cleveland will replace Refsnyder with a more experienced utility infielder.  Rosales has extensive work at all four infield spots (plus the odd appearance in left field) over his 10 seasons and 638 big league games.  This versatility has helped Rosales stick around in the Show despite a lack of hitting (.227/.292/.365 slash line over 1786 PA), though he did burst out for 13 homers and an .814 OPS over 248 PA with the Padres in 2016.

    Pittsburgh placed Leathersich on waivers yesterday, as he may have been an expendable piece in a Pirates bullpen that already includes Steven Brault and Josh Smoker tossing from the left side, plus Kevin Siegrist in camp on a minor league deal.  Leathersich joined the Bucs via a waiver claim off the Cubs’ roster last September, appearing in six games wearing the black-and-gold.  The 27-year-old southpaw has a 2.70 ERA in 16 2/3 Major League innings, and both his brief MLB stint and his much more expansive sample size of 278 1/3 minor league IP exhibit indicate a penchant for racking up big totals in both the strikeout and walks departments.

    Milbrath was also waived along with Leathersich yesterday, and as per the regulations of the Rule 5 Draft, the righty had to first be offered back to his original team (Cleveland) after other teams had passed on claiming the 26-year-old.  A 35th-round selection for the Tribe in the 2013 draft, Milbrath has a 4.33 ERA, 7.8 K/9, and 2.02 K/BB rate over 405 1/3 career innings in the minors, cracking the Double-A level in each of the last two seasons.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Offseason In Review: Cleveland Indians]]> 2018-03-27T01:30:59Z 2018-03-27T01:04:44Z This piece is part of MLBTR’s 2017-18 Offseason In Review series.  Click here to read the other completed reviews from around the league.

    A 102-win Indians ballclub let all seven of its free agents depart this winter, and gave out just one guaranteed contract. The Tribe will bank on a sustained breakout from Yonder Alonso and some reinforcements from the farm to supplement a core that’s won the division two years in a row, in hopes that they can end MLB’s longest championship drought.

    Major League Signings

    Trades and Claims

    Option Decisions

    Notable Minor League Signings

    Notable Losses

    Indians Depth Chart; Indians Payroll Information

    Needs Addressed

    One of the Indians’ most important decisions came right at the end of the 2017 season, as they elected to pick up their $11MM option over outfielder Michael Brantley. That call long seemed an easy one in the affirmative, but ongoing shoulder and ankle problems have added quite a lot of uncertainty to the 30-year-old’s outlook. It’s something of a risk for the Cleveland organization, but it seems Brantley is progressing well and he could still represent a significant value if he can make it back to full health and come anywhere near his peak level of production.

    Otherwise, the Cleveland brass entered the offseason with a simple to-do list: re-sign or replace their outgoing free agents in order to keep last year’s team as intact as possible. After a 102-win season in which the club won an AL record 22 consecutive games, there wasn’t any need for a significant overhaul. Most of the core was under control headed into 2018, so the organization’s tapestry of talent would likely require only minor patches to be successful in the coming season.

    It soon became evident that rival clubs valued the Tribe’s outgoing free agents far more than the team itself. Santana and Shaw both exceeded MLBTR’s expectations in terms of earning power, and departed for Philadelphia and Colorado, respectively. As each of their other five free agents found new homes, the Indians were forced to opt for the “replace” route.

    The club signed Alonso to fill Santana’s shoes, added Davis and Upton Jr. to battle for Jackson’s role, and snatched up Belisle and Torres out of the late-winter reliever bargain bin. Mission accomplished, right? Well, sort of. While each of those moves serves the purpose of patching a hole left by a free-agent departure, each serves as the equivalent of purchasing a $200 laptop because you can’t afford a Macbook. They’ll do the same job, but they don’t come with the same kind of reliability. That leaves some questions as to whether the club will be able to enjoy the same success; if one of their replacement options collapses, they’ll suddenly have a problematic hole on the roster.

    Alonso, for instance, is coming off a rare age-30 breakout season in which he became something of a poster boy for the fly ball revolution. Between the A’s and Mariners, he posted a strong .266/.365/.501 batting line with a career-high 28 home runs. That homer total far exceeded anything he’d ever done in the majors or minors, so there’s some understandable skepticism about whether or not he’ll be able to repeat such numbers as he enters an age in which baseball players typically begin to decline.

    Still, perhaps that’s not giving enough credit to Alonso. He did, after all, make some clear changes to his swing that we can point to as evidence for his breakout. And he also altered his approach at the plate; those changes were mentioned far less by both the media and respected baseball statistic outlets, but contributed just as much to his breakout campaign. As Alonso himself put it in an interview with’s Jordan Bastian“For me, it’s about driving the baseball, using my legs, doing things that I do. My pitch sequence. My pitch location. What pitches I can handle. What pitches I can’t. And then after that, just going and compete.” Focusing on the pitches he could handle worked out well for his on-base ability, as his walk rate spiked to a 13.1% clip that far exceeded his previous career high of 10.4%. The resulting .365 on-base percentage falls exactly in line with Santana’s career average, meaning that he’d actually prove a suitable replacement for the long-time Tribe slugger as long as he can continue a seemingly repeatable improvement in patience and pitch selection.

    Additionally, it’s worth noting that even if Alonso doesn’t end up producing to his 2017 levels, the Indians have some reasonable backup solutions. It’s feasible that Edwin Encarnacion could shift out of the DH spot (though he certainly wouldn’t provide much value defensively), allowing someone like on-base machine Yandy Diaz to get at-bats as the team’s designated hitter. The club also has Bobby Bradley waiting in the wings, who ranks among the top first base prospects in baseball. Point being, if Alonso regresses significantly, the Indians can probably reshape their roster to accommodate without taking a sizeable hit to their run-scoring ability.

    As far as the outfield goes, it’s difficult to imagine Davis, who was recently added to the 25-man roster, producing to the level that Jackson did last season. (Of course, Jackson himself was acquired on a minor-league deal.) The 37-year-old Davis brings with him the nostalgia of a memorable game-tying homer in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. But after he hit just .235/.293/.348 last season between the A’s and Red Sox, he probably won’t provide any real offensive value with his bat. His biggest asset to the team will be his stolen base ability, which continues to inexplicably persevere even as the outfielder approaches the age of 40.

    Speaking of 37-year-old players, Belisle was also recently informed that he’s made the team. Though he’s not necessarily an exciting addition, he ’s a reliable presence for quality innings. Across the past three campaigns, the right-hander has posted a 2.96 ERA and has typically managed to out-pitch his peripheral statistics. Again, he’s not Shaw or Smith, but he’s certainly not a pushover. Considering the bullpen will still be led by Cody Allen and Andrew Miller, there’s not much to worry about, anyway. With an embarrassment of riches in the starting pitcher department, the Tribe will likely consider flamethrower Danny Salazar for a bullpen role if he continues to struggle in the rotation.

    Questions Remaining

    The club’s outfield crew isn’t likely to intimidate other contenders. While Lonnie Chisenhall and Brantley are terrific when they’re able to take the field, neither can seem to do so on a consistent basis. Bradley Zimmer and Tyler Naquin have both shown great upside, but they’ve also had their weaknesses exposed; neither is a sure bet to find sustained success throughout the 2018 season. The even bigger overarching issue is that each of those four players bats from the left side of the plate. The Tribe’s only righty-hitting outfielders are Davis (see above) and Brandon Guyer, who was recently named to the Opening Day roster but struggled mightily last year and comes with injury concerns. While the team has some right-handed bats and switch-hitters elsewhere in the lineup, one has to imagine that such a severely lefty-heavy outfield puts them at a disadvantage against opposing southpaws.

    The organization’s dearth of vertical depth in the bullpen department is no small matter, either. The club has seven solid relievers on the active roster, but the relief corps at Triple-A is a gaggle of waiver claims and offseason minor league signees. Though they’ve lucked out in the past with waiver claims like Tyler Olson, it’s statistically unlikely that they’ll continue to win the lottery with players that other teams let go. Of course, it’s fair to note too that the rotation depth could filter down to the pen if and when more of the team’s starters are at full health.

    The health and production of second baseman Jason Kipnis is certainly up in the air after an injury-plagued age-30 season that ended up being one of the worst offensive showings of his career. His poor play resulted in a swirl of offseason trade rumors and uncertainty about his future in Cleveland, but he’s found his swing in training camp as evidenced by his six homers and .375 batting average in Cactus League play. It’s tough to know what to expect from Kipnis, but he’s an interesting bounce back candidate to watch.

    The Tribe’s catching tandem of Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez isn’t what you’d call an offensive juggernaut, but they both provide plenty of defensive value and are likely to combine for another above-average performance in relation to the rest of the league. Beyond them, super-prospect Francisco Mejia is waiting in the wings, itching to prove himself in the event of an injury to one the aforementioned duo. Mejia’s more of a bat-first backstop, and his hit tool is one of the best in the minors. Indeed, the organization is even considering utilizing him in the outfield as a means of moving up his timeline to contribute in the majors (potentially offering another means of giving a boost to the uncertain outfield mix). While none of these three players is without his flaws, it’s hard to imagine catcher being a significant area of weakness for the Indians.

    It’s more likely than not that we’ll see some kind of offensive decline from Encarnacion as the slugger enters his age-35 season. What that will look like isn’t easy to predict. Some sluggers like Paul Konerko only experienced a modest power drop-off at 35, while others such as Mark Teixeira seemed to have the rug pulled out from under them entirely at that age. As one of the few intimidating right-handed hitters in the Tribe’s lineup, they’ll be counting on him to offer at least something close to his usual power output.

    Outside of that, the Indians appear well-poised to make another run at a championship. A rotation that produced the best fWAR of all time is back in its entirety, with reasonable depth options at Triple-A and a couple of impressive prospects in Triston McKenzie and Shane Bieber not far off. The left side of their infield sports two MVP candidates in Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to once again see those two combine to top 60 homers while providing stellar defense. All in all, questions about this team’s composition are little else but nit-picking.


    The front office didn’t do much this offseason, and as such this iteration of the Indians doesn’t look quite as strong as the one that finished the season with 102 wins last year. But if they did get weaker, it certainly isn’t by much. The most important pieces remain on hand, and they have some intriguing depth in the form of high-upside prospects. That likely means a third consecutive AL Central championship and a return to the postseason.

    How would you grade the Indians’ offseason work? (Poll link for app users)

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Michael Brantley Headed To DL]]> 2018-03-25T17:23:39Z 2018-03-25T17:13:41Z
  • Indians outfielder Michael Brantley will begin the year on the disabled list, paving the way for Tyler Naquin to make the team, Paul Hoynes of tweets. Brantley has made progress in his recovery from the right ankle surgery he underwent last October, but he’s not quite ready for regular-season action.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians To Add Rajai Davis To MLB Roster; Mike Napoli Will Go To Triple-A]]> 2018-03-25T16:54:49Z 2018-03-25T16:53:43Z SUNDAY: Napoli will report to the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate, Paul Hoynes of tweets.

    THURSDAY: Indians skipper Terry Francona ran through a laundry list of roster moves today, as’s Jordan Bastian reports in a series of tweets. Of particular note, the club intends to add outfielder Rajai Davis to the active roster for the start of the season and has released first baseman Mike Napoli, with expectations of re-signing him if he cannot find a MLB opportunity elsewhere.

    Davis’s minor-league deal included an opt-out opportunity today, so it’s no surprise to see a decision come down. He’ll be slated to earn a $1.75MM salary with another $3.25MM possible through incentives.

    The 37-year-old did not hit much this spring but obviously left a positive impression on the organization, which is plenty familiar with him from his 2016 run in Cleveland. Presumably, Davis will supplement youngster Bradley Zimmer in center while also seeing some time in the corners and functioning as a pinch-runner.

    As for the 36-year-old Napoli, he’s slated to re-sign with the Indians on a new minor-league deal unless he finds a job elsewhere. Unless the market is suddenly more welcoming than it was just a few weeks back, he’ll presumably end up joining the Indians’ top affiliate to begin the season.

    There were some other roster calls made or at least addressed today, as Bastian further details. Veteran righty Alexi Ogando won’t make the MLB team but will return to rotation duties at Triple-A. Fellow non-roster relievers Matt Belisle and Carlos Torres are still awaiting their fates, which will be decided by Article XX(B) bonus decision day (this coming Saturday).

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Soon-To-Be Free Agent Andrew Miller Hopes To Stay With Indians]]> 2018-03-25T14:08:31Z 2018-03-25T14:08:29Z Indians reliever Andrew Miller could be one of the faces of a star-studded class of free agents next winter, but he’d prefer to continue his career in Cleveland. “I’m focused on this season. But absolutely. If I have an opportunity to stay here, I would. I love it here. The city’s been great to us. I can’t imagine a better place to be,” Miller told Grant Segall of After combining for a 1.93 ERA with 14.7 K/9, 2.48 BB/9 and a 51 percent groundball rate from 2013-17, the 32-year-old Miller will attempt to turn in yet another elite campaign in 2018. He’ll earn $9MM in the process.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Indians Release Carlos Torres]]> 2018-03-24T19:27:03Z 2018-03-24T19:27:03Z The Indians have granted right-hander Carlos Torres his unconditional release, Jordan Bastian of tweets.

    Over the past four seasons, only Dellin Betances has topped Torres’ 304 2/3 relief innings. In other words, he’s been a reliable workhorse out of the bullpen for the Mets and Brewers during that time. However, he was informed today that he won’t make the Tribe’s bullpen, as the seventh spot will go to fellow right-hander Matt Belisle.

    Torres owns a 4.00 ERA and 7.88 K/9 at the major league level, most of that coming in relief. Last season, however, his K/9 figure dropped below 7.00 for the first time since his rookie season, and his walk rate ballooned to 4.06 per nine. While his 4.21 ERA doesn’t seem disastrous, ERA estimators such as FIP, xFIP and SIERA suggest that his true talent was close to that of a 5.00 ERA pitcher.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Indians Notes: Napoli, Merritt]]> 2018-03-24T12:10:47Z 2018-03-24T04:39:32Z
  • Mike Napoli is expected to decide shortly whether he’ll return to the Indians on another minor league contract, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter link). The presumption seemingly remains that he’ll return and open the year at Triple-A, as manager Terry Francona tells reporters including’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter link). But nothing has been formalized at this point, with Napoli evidently still holding out hope of finding a big league opportunity elsewhere. The veteran first baseman, who was released yesterday from a minors deal with Cleveland, has struggled to generate interest at the MLB level all winter long after a middling 2017 season.
  • Meanwhile, the Indians got a bit more clarity in their pitching plans with the decision to place Ryan Merritt on the DL to open the season, as Bastian reports. A combination of knee problems to open camp and a “tired arm” as it draws to a close have conspired to hold him back. The news also prevents the Cleveland organization from making a tough call on Merritt, an out-of-options hurler that the team would prefer not to expose to waivers.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Central Notes: Indians, Naquin, Refsnyder, Reds, Miley, Cabrera]]> 2018-03-23T02:39:14Z 2018-03-23T02:27:29Z Tyler Naquin and Rob Refsnyder are still competing for a potential spot on the Indians’ opening day roster, and Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal tweets that manager Terry Francona has explained some details to them. Francona reportedly told the two players that the spot won’t simply go to the guy who gets the most hits over the last week, and that roster construction could be the biggest factor. For instance, if Brandon Guyer and/or Michael Brantley aren’t ready in time for opening day, Naquin and Refsnyder would stand a better chance to make the club out of camp. Whether the club chooses to carry seven or eight relievers will also affect their fates. It’s worth noting that Tyler Naquin has multiple options remaining, while Rob Refsnyder is an out-of-options player.

    More out of the midwest…

    • In a piece for The Athletic, Doug Gray details ten Reds prospects to keep an eye on for the coming season. The players in the article aren’t necessarily top prospects, but rather a group of under-the-radar players who Gray describes as “unheralded”. The list includes right-handers Nick Hanson and Ryan Hendrix, $10MM shortstop Jose Garcia, and Brandon Phillips’ cousin Montrell Marshall. Many of these players have significant upside and are worth the exploration by any Reds fan, or indeed any avid baseball follower.
    • Wade Miley’s opt-out date has been pushed back, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports on Twitter. The southpaw seemed likely to make the Brewers’ rotation before suffering a torn groin that’s expected to keep him out two to four weeks. Miley could have opted out of his contract tomorrow after being informed that he wouldn’t make the opening day roster, but GM David Stearns apparently worked out a deal with his agent. Miley’s opt-out date has been extended until the point at which he’s able to start pitching again.
    • Two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera is stuck in “baseball purgatory”, says Scott Miller in an opinion piece for Bleacher Report. Miller describes Cabrera as “an island unto himself”, on a rebuilding Tigers team that will not likely be able to deal him and the $192MM remaining on his contract, particularly coming off the worst season of his career wherein he was plagued by back issues. For his part, Cabrera doesn’t seem to be focused on that aspect of his situation. “I’m here to play,” he says. “I’m not here to give my opinion of what’s going to happen. I’m here to do my job, to help win games and to help the process.”