MLB Trade Rumors » » Cleveland Indians 2017-10-21T12:05:27Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom 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.

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Earlier tonight, we took a look at the Tigers’ managerial search, breaking down the list of candidates that are slated to interview and those that have been more casually linked to the vacancy in Detroit. The Phillies, too, 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.

As with the Tigers (and eventually with all of the managerial searches of the offseason), we’ll track the majority of the managerial chatter in a single place over the course of the search and update accordingly as the hunt progresses. Here’s the most up-to-date chatter on the Phils…

Will Interview/Have Interviewed

  • The Phils have already interviewed Athletics bench coach Chip Hale, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag. The 52-year-old fell out of favor with the Diamondbacks after just two years on the job, exiting along with GM Dave Stewart after a disappointing 2016 campaign.
  • Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway is slated to interview with the Phils. ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported the initial interest, with Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reporting that Philadelphia has officially asked for permission to discuss the opening with Callaway. Now that the Indians have been bumped from the postseason, the path is cleared to discussions. As Hoynes notes, the 42-year-old Callaway has had quite some success with an excellent Indians pitching staff.
  • 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)

  • 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.
  • Like the Tigers, the Phillies are interested in speaking to Rockies bench coach Mike Redmond, per FanRag’s Jon 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.
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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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Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Brandon Guyer To Undergo Surgery]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104515 2017-10-10T13:12:32Z 2017-10-10T13:12:32Z Indians outfielder Brandon Guyer is set to undergo surgery on his left wrist, Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal reports on Twitter. The club provided a bit more detail in an announcement, noting that the procedure will involve a repair of the extensor tendon.

At this point, it’s not clear how long Guyer will miss; more will be known after he emerges from surgery. Regardless of the prognosis, he’s under contract for next season under the two-year, $5MM deal he signed in January. Cleveland also possesses a $3MM option (with a $250K buyout) for 2019.

Obviously, the injury news means that Guyer won’t be a part of the Indians’ postseason run, though that had largely become clear already. The 31-year-old endured an injury-limited and disappointing 2017 campaign. Through 192 plate appearances, he slashed just .236/.326/.327 with a pair of long balls.

Prior to the current season, Guyer has been a source of solidly above-average hitting line he carried to that point. While he has never done much damage against same-handed pitching, Guyer has been a weapon against lefties, posting a lifetime .281/.379/.448 batting line.

Right-hander Adam Plutko has undergone his own surgery, the team further noted. In his case, a procedure to repair his right hip labrum is likely to sideline him for four to six months. Plutko briefly cracked the majors last year but struggled to a 5.90 ERA in 135 2/3 Triple-A frames in 2017.

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Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 10/8/17]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104391 2017-10-08T22:15:03Z 2017-10-08T22:15:03Z Here are the latest minor league moves from around the game, with the most recent transactions at the top of the post…

  • The Indians outrighted right-hander Joe Colon to Triple-A Columbus, per a team announcement.  Colon was designated for assignment earlier this week.  The righty made 28 relief appearances for Columbus this season before being suspended on July 1 for a PED violation; this was the second PED suspension of Colon’s career, as he missed 50 games in 2016 following his initial violation.  Colon, a 12th-round pick for Cleveland in the 2009 draft, has a 3.44 ERA over 568 1/3 career innings in the Tribe’s minor league system, and he pitched 10 innings for the big league club in 2016.
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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Indians' Scout Liked Aaron Judge Better Than Mark Appel In 2013]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104380 2017-10-08T17:26:40Z 2017-10-08T03:09:53Z Rockies bench coach Mike Redmond is drawing interest from two manager-needy teams, the Phillies and Tigers, Jon Heyman of FanRag reports. Redmond isn’t far removed from managing the Marlins, who went 155-207 on his watch from 2013-15. The former big league catcher played with the Marlins from 1998-2004, giving him familiarity with Tigers general manager Al Avila. The executive was in Miami’s front office for a portion of Redmond’s tenure as a player there.

More from around baseball:

  • With the Indians and Yankees facing off in the American League Division Series, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com flashes back five years to a decision that has impacted both franchises. The Indians signed former Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher to a four-year, $56MM deal in December 2012, a move that didn’t pan out for Cleveland but did help lead to the Aaron Judge era in the Bronx. By letting Swisher walk in free agency, the Yankees earned a compensatory draft pick in 2013, the 32nd selection, with which they chose Judge. Unsurprisingly, Cleveland passed on Judge at No. 5 in the first round (the Indians grabbed a different now-Yankees outfielder in Clint Frazier, whom the Tribe traded in a 2016 deal for reliever Andrew Miller), though one member of the club’s scouting department was particularly enamored of the hulking slugger. “One of our scouts liked him over [No. 1 overall pick Mark] Appel, which is crazy to think about,” Indians president Chris Antonetti told Castrovince. “It’s not necessarily how we had him on our board, but one of our scouts felt strongly about it. There were some questions about his size, but he also did a lot of things really well, and he was renowned for having a great makeup.”
  • There haven’t been any contract discussions between the Rockies and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez since spring training, according to Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. The Rockies offered CarGo an extension back then, but he turned it down and proceeded to endure the worst season of his career. The 31-year-old impending free agent batted an uncharacteristically poor .262/.339/.423 in 534 plate appearances, but he did fare much better after the All-Star break (.314/.390/.531 in 207 PAs).
  • The Diamondbacks won 93 games during the regular season and broke a five-year playoff drought, leading Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic to highlight some of the good work done by their past decision-makers. While first-year GM Mike Hazen is responsible for the J.D. Martinez, Ketel Marte, Daniel Descalso, Jeff Mathis, Taijuan Walker and Fernando Rodney acquisitions, among others, predecessors Josh Byrnes, Jerry Dipoto, Kevin Towers and Dave Stewart each have a hand in the current on-field product in Arizona – something Hazen realizes. “There are contributions all over the place,” he told Piecoro. “They should be proud of that, I think. We all know in the game things happen. Changes get made. For whatever reason, they get made. But it still doesn’t change the fact that there was good done, too.”
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Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Encarnacion Expects To Play Again This Postseason]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104361 2017-10-07T20:21:37Z 2017-10-07T19:51:29Z According to two tweets (separate links) from beat reporter Jason Beck of MLB.com, Cleveland Indians designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion’s MRI revealed no structural damage. He’s considered day-to-day with a sprained ankle. Encarnacion said he was relieved at the results, having initially feared something much worse. His goal is to get the swelling down with an expectation that he’ll play again this postseason.

Terry Francona had this to say on Encarnacion’s status when he met with reporters today (credit to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, who tweeted an image with the full quote).

“He is, I would say, I don’t know if ’remarkably’ better is a good word, but pretty close. He’s doing much better today. I don’t think he’s going to start tomorrow, but he’s not been ruled out, either. So, we’ll take our time and allow him to continue to get treatment. But if he’s that close to being available, that’s a really good sign. So, we’re obviously not going to do anything roster-wise.”

This is certainly the best scenario the Indians could have hoped for after seeing Encarnacion leave last night’s game with a scary-looking ankle injury. That the Indians don’t plan on making a roster move to replace Encarnacion for the remainer of the series is an encouraging sign that the team truly believes he can get back on the field. The 34-year old veteran led the team with 38 home runs during the regular season and finished second only to All-Star Jose Ramirez in wOBA (.378) and wRC+ (132). His 15.5% walk rate ranked 8th in all of baseball. Any extended absence for him certainly would have been devastating to an Indians team with hopes of a second consecutive trip to the World Series.

It’s expected that All-Star Michael Brantley will take over DH duties if Encarnacion is unable to play in Game 3 against the Yankees on Sunday. Brantley went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts after replacing Encarnacion in Friday’s game.

Encarnacion came to the Indians just last offseason on a three-year, $60MM deal that includes a $5MM buyout on a $25MM team option for 2020. Full details on Encarnacion’s contract can be found here.

 

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Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Central Notes: Royals, Reds, Jose Ramirez]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104343 2017-10-08T01:10:51Z 2017-10-07T16:59:20Z Via Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, Royals GM Dayton Moore details the elements of an uncertain offseason for Kansas City. The organization will go “one of two ways”, according to Moore. The first option is obvious; the club could choose to “gut the team” in a complete teardown, saving money and going for high draft picks. But Moore does detail an ambitious alternative: trying to retain their free agent stars. Everybody assumes that we are just going to just get blown away in free agency, and we don’t have a chance,” he tells Dodd. “They may be right, but I think everybody felt that way about Alex Gordon at the time. That fell back to us. You just never really know.” Indeed, there are rumblings that one of the Royals’ biggest offseason priorities will be to retain star first baseman Eric Hosmer. But with the 2017 Royals’ payroll setting a franchise record for the fifth consecutive year while delivering a losing season, Moore does make one blunt concession. “It’s very clear to us that we need to get younger and more athletic. We’re going to continue with that mindset as we go forward into the future.”

More from baseball’s central divisions…

  • Ken Rosenthal details the elements of a bittersweet postseason for Reds scouting director Chris Buckley in a piece for The Athletic (subscription required and recommended). Seven players originally signed by the Reds are currently playing October baseball with the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, including infielders Didi Gregorius and Justin Turner. While the presence of former Cincinnati signees gives Buckley a clear rooting interest, it also evokes painful memories of the two scouts he lost to cancer in recent years.
  • David Waldstein of the New York Times tells the fascinating story of how superstar infielder Jose Ramirez first came to the Indians. According to Waldstein, Ramon Pena (then an international scout for Cleveland) attended a three-game showcase in the Dominican Republic largely to gawk at invitees Jorge Alfaro and Martin Peguero, but noticed Ramirez playing with surprising confidence and determination. During a subsequent telephone call with a local trainer who represented the players, Pena was focused on trying to sign Alfaro. When he learned that Alfaro was asking for $1.5 million, the conversation shifted to Ramirez. Pena eventually talked the trainer down from $300,000 all the way to $50,000. After an agreement was in place, however, Pena was unable to gather the papers required for Ramirez to play in the United States, so he sat out the 2010 season and instead spent the year working out at the Indians’ facility in Boca Chica. The team managed to get Ramirez’ papers in order in time for the 2011 season, and Ramirez sped through the minor leagues, making his MLB debut just two years later.
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Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Playoff Team Notes: Encarnacion, Astros, Nationals]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104324 2017-10-07T13:57:26Z 2017-10-07T13:18:27Z Indians cleanup hitter Edwin Encarnacion left last night’s game with an ankle injury. While trying to get back to second base in order to avoid being doubled up, his ankle hit the bag and appeared to bend to a gruesome extent. The right-handed DH could not put weight on his right leg as he was helped off the field. While there’s no word yet on the severity of the injury, Encarnacion appeared to be in a lot of pain. The Indians added the slugger on a three-year, $60 million contract this past offseason, and he rewarded them with a .258/.377/.504 season in which he smacked 38 homers and drove in 107 runs. He’s a tremendous right-handed power hitter amidst a left-heavy lineup, and his absence for any length of time would be a huge blow to a Cleveland team that is searching for its first title since 1948.

More from some teams still playing baseball in October…

  • Dallas Keuchel of the Astros had always felt as though the team was missing a strong veteran presence in the clubhouse. “Guys were just waiting for the Astros to get a lot better,” he tells Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. After adding Brian McCann, Josh Reddick and Carlos Beltran, Houston soared to a 101-61 record and currently have a 2-0 lead on Boston in the ALDS. A.J. Hinch also appreciates the value of having these veteran players. “They’ve taken everybody under their wing, they’ve developed a culture in the clubhouse and a chemistry that’s all inclusive, which I can appreciate.” Most notably, the piece reveals that Carlos Beltran has become a strong mentor for fellow Puerto Rican Carlos Correa.
  • Nationals assistant hitting coach Jacque Jones has been suspended indefinitely, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. According to a civil suit filed on September 28th, Jones allegedly distributed nude photos of an ex, causing her to suffer “general and special damages”. Dusty Baker described the news as “kind of a downer” before last night’s game, describing Jones as a big part of the team. In Jones’ absence, minor league hitting coordinator Troy Gingrich will serve as the assistant to hitting coach Rick Schu.
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Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tribe Notes: Bruce, Alomar]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104285 2017-10-06T18:59:45Z 2017-10-06T18:59:45Z With Jay Bruce enjoying a big night in Game One of the ALDS, the Indians’ official Twitter account couldn’t resist a pretty pointed tweet at the Yankees, who came up short in their bid to acquire Bruce from the Mets last summer.  Ken Davidoff of the New York Post recaps how negotiations between the Mets and Yankees broke down, not only because Cleveland was willing to absorb all of Bruce’s remaining salary, but also because “the Mets didn’t like one bit the idea of Bruce helping the Yankees’ pennant drive” given the inter-Big Apple rivalry.  Bruce was a big contributor down the stretch for the Tribe (hitting .248/.331/.477 with seven homers over 169 PA) then went 2-for-3 with a homer and three RBI in last night’s victory.

  • In more Mets/Indians news, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (Twitter link) that Tribe first base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. “has received strong consideration” for an interview about the Mets’ managerial opening.  Alomar has been a member of Cleveland’s coaching staff for eight years, serving at first base except for a two-year stint as bench coach in 2012-13 that also included a six-game stint as interim manager at the end of the 2012 season.  Alomar has been linked to several managerial jobs over the years and has links to the Mets — he played his last season with the Amazins and spent his first two years as a coach in the Mets organization as a roving catching instructor.
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Jason Martinez <![CDATA[How They Were Acquired: Cleveland Indians ALDS Roster]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104198 2017-10-05T22:54:41Z 2017-10-05T22:44:10Z The Indians came within one game of celebrating their first World Series championship in nearly seven decades last season, and they had the luxury of retaining the vast majority of that team for the 2017 campaign. Unlike others so far in this series, Cleveland has assembled its roster almost entirely via the draft, international free agency and trades. Such moves have accounted for 22 of the Indians’ 25 players, with only three joining the roster via free agency or waivers.

Here’s how president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti, general manager Mike Chernoff and the rest of the Indians’ brain trust have pieced together a 102-win team that led the American League in wins thanks largely to a historic winning streak late in the year…

[Related: Cleveland Indians Depth Chart and Payroll Outlook]

The vast majority of the Indians’ core is controlled not only for the 2018 season but into 2019 as well. Cleveland could lose Santana and Shaw as free agents this winter, and rental pickups Bruce and Smith are eligible for free agency as well. But Cleveland’s future is exceptionally bright, with stars like Kluber, Carrasco, Lindor and Ramirez all controlled through at least the 2020 season. With at least two teams in full rebuild mode in the AL Central, the Indians are primed for a prolonged run of success.

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Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Revisiting The Corey Kluber Trade]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=104023 2017-10-04T00:44:45Z 2017-10-04T00:43:04Z
  • Corey Kluber was a promising but unheralded young arm in the Padres farm system when he was acquired by the Indians in July 2010, as Cleveland.com’s Bud Shaw revisits the trade that gave the Tribe its ace.  Kluber was acquired as part of a three-team deal that saw the Cardinals send Ryan Ludwick to the Padres, while St. Louis picked up Jake Westbrook from Cleveland and Nick Greenwood from San Diego.  Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti, then the team’s GM, said they received good scouting reports and “great analytical information” on Kluber that caught their interest, but “at the same time, no one sat there and said we were trading for a future Cy Young winner. We had no idea.”
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Who Will Win The World Series?]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103789 2017-10-01T18:01:08Z 2017-10-01T18:01:08Z Aside from Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton’s pursuit of 60 home runs, the final day of Major League Baseball’s regular season won’t bring much drama. Colorado on Saturday became the last team in the majors to clinch a playoff spot and will be one of 10 clubs vying for World Series glory over the next month-plus. Here’s a rundown of the participants by league and seeding:

    National League

    1.) Los Angeles Dodgers (record: 103-58; most recent title: 1988): The Dodgers are loaded with stars and depth, which explains how they easily exceeded the 100-win mark despite enduring a 1-15 stretch from Aug. 26 through Sept. 11. They recovered from that nightmarish 16-game showing over the season’s final couple weeks and once again look formidable entering the postseason. While the Dodgers have scored the second-fewest runs of this year’s playoff teams, they’ve still managed to pace all NL clubs in position player fWAR. Plus, with a Clayton Kershaw-fronted rotation and a Kenley Jansen-led bullpen, their staff is atop the NL in pitching fWAR.

    2.) Washington Nationals (record: 97-64; most recent title: never): The Nationals cruised to an NL East crown this year despite losing center fielder Adam Eaton in April and having to go without arguably their best player, right fielder Bryce Harper, from mid-August until late September. Harper suffered a knee injury that looked like a season-ender when it happened, and while the missed time derailed his MVP chances, he’s back to lead a lineup that also includes other standouts in Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy, Trea Turner and Ryan Zimmerman. On the pitching side, it seems ace and Cy Young candidate Max Scherzer avoided a serious hamstring injury during his start on Saturday. If that’s the case, Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez could be the premier starting trio in the playoffs. They’ll hand off to a bullpen that has featured offered plenty of shaky performances in 2017, though midseason additions Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler have helped stabilize the Nationals’ relief corps.

    3.) Chicago Cubs (record: 92-69; most recent title: 2016): At this time a year ago, Chicago was putting the finishing touches on a 103-win regular season and preparing to enter the playoffs as the odds-on favorite. Ultimately, the Cubs lived up to the billing last fall and broke a 108-year title drought in an unforgettable World Series against the Indians. They haven’t been as sharp this year, owing in part to worse performances from their pitching and defense, but are still laden with talent. There’s no shortage of quality position players on hand, including reigning MVP Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, but the Cubs will need more from their staff – particularly Jake Arrieta, who’s dealing with a hamstring issue right now, and Jon Lester.

    4.) Arizona Diamondbacks (record: 92-69; most recent title: 2001): One of this year’s surprise teams, the Diamondbacks rode an underrated starting staff and a top 10 offense (by runs scored) to a playoff berth. Starters Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Zack Godley, Patrick Corbin and Taijuan Walker have all turned in good to great seasons, which is why the D-backs’ starters lead the NL in fWAR. They also have a pair of offensive superstars in first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, though he had a horrid September that likely ruined his MVP chances, and outfielder J.D. Martinez. The latter has been a revelation since coming over from the Tigers in a July trade, having smashed 29 home runs in 61 games and batted .304/.369/.746 in 255 plate appearances. If you’re looking for a potential Achilles’ heel, no playoff entrant has a worse wRC+ (84) against left-handed pitchers than Arizona. That doesn’t seem to bode well for a team that will face the Dodgers, whose southpaws include Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Tony Cingrani and Tony Watson, if it wins the NL wild-card game.

    5.) Colorado Rockies (record: 87-74; most recent title: never): Primarily on account of NL MVP candidates Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon, the Rockies are near the top of the league in runs scored, which is what you’d expect from a team that plays half its games at Coors Field. The Rockies managed to break a seven-year playoff skid this season largely because of an improved pitching staff that sits eighth in the majors in fWAR. Still, despite the presence of Jon Gray, their rotation doesn’t look particularly imposing relative to other playoff teams’ staffs. They do, however, feature a few highly capable relievers in Greg Holland, Chris Rusin, Pat Neshek and Jake McGee.

    (Poll link for app users)

     

    American League

    1.) Cleveland Indians (record: 101-60; most recent title: 1948): At 48-45, the reigning AL champions were a mere three games above .500 on July 18. Since then, they’ve run roughshod over the rest of the league en route to a 53-15 mark, including a historic 22-game winning streak from Aug. 22 to Sept. 14. The Indians lost a meaningless game to the White Sox on Saturday, but that was just their fourth defeat in the past 35 contests. Needless to say, they’re heading into the playoffs on a roll. As you’d expect, Cleveland’s roster is chock-full of excellence. MVP hopeful Jose Ramirez and all-world shortstop Francisco Lindor are at the helm of a talent-rich offense, one that supports what could be an all-time great pitching staff from top to bottom. Ace/Cy Young candidate Corey Kluber, righty Carlos Carrasco and super reliever Andrew Miller, one of the faces of last year’s postseason, deservedly grab the most headlines, but good luck finding any weak links among the other pitchers the Tribe will use in the playoffs.

    2.) Houston Astros (record: 100-61; most recent title: never): With a league-high 892 runs and a 121 wRC+, it’s a wonder how anyone gets the Astros out. Much of the damage has come from AL MVP front-runner Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, the latter of whom missed significant time earlier this season, but ancillary pieces such as Marwin Gonzalez, Alex Bregman, Josh Reddick and Yuli Gurriel have all been no worse than very good at the plate. And then there’s the one-two pitching punch of recently acquired ace Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel, not to mention a deep starting staff/bullpen behind them. If there’s one big concern here, it’s that Houston may be the worst defensive team in the playoffs.

    3.) Boston Red Sox (record: 93-68; most recent title: 2013): This year’s Red Sox have deviated from past Boston teams that used the likes of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez to pound opponents into submission. In fact, this is the first playoff-bound Red Sox club since 1995 to qualify for the postseason without scoring at least 800 runs. Nevertheless, they have several especially well-rounded position players (Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi and the banged-up Dustin Pedroia, to name a few) who have done enough in the field to make Boston an elite defensive outfit. That defense supports the AL’s foremost southpaw, Chris Sale, and superstar closer Craig Kimbrel. Boston is entering the playoffs with some concerns in its rotation, though, including the recent struggles of Sale and the yearlong issues 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello has had. Fortunately for the Sox, starter Drew Pomeranz quelled some late-season concerns with an encouraging start against the Astros on Saturday.

    4.) New York Yankees (record: 90-71; most recent title: 2009): Baby Bombers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez have more than lived up to the hype this season, combining for 85 home runs and 11.7 fWAR in 1,203 PAs. Fifty-one of those long balls have come from Judge, an OPS machine and an AL Rookie of the Year shoo-in whose 8.2 fWAR leads the majors. The rest of the Yankees’ offense isn’t exactly subpar, either, as a laundry list of their other hitters have notched above-average seasons at the plate. And New York’s pitching staff could be built for October, with an incredibly strong bullpen and a rotation that features perhaps the AL’s third-best starter, Luis Severino. One of the major questions regarding the Yankees is which versions of Sonny Gray and Masahiro Tanaka will show up in the postseason – if the team gets by the wild-card game, that is. Gray allowed between four and six earned runs in three of five September starts, while Tanaka was a mixed bag throughout the regular season. He did conclude the slate with a seven-inning, 15-K shutout against the Blue Jays on Friday, though.

    5.) Minnesota Twins (record: 84-77; most recent title: 1991): In terms of teams, there probably hasn’t been a better story during the regular season than the Twins, who were 103-game losers and owners of the majors’ worst record a year ago. Adding to the improbability of their Cinderella run to the playoffs, the Twins were sellers at this year’s trade deadline, when they dealt starter Jaime Garcia to their wild-card opponent, the Yankees, and Kintzler to the Nationals. However, Brian Dozier, Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, Joe Mauer & Co. were undeterred in the face of those deals and the late-summer absence of slugging third baseman Miguel Sano, who missed over a month with a left shin injury but just returned this week. Given its relatively underwhelming pitching staff, Minnesota is obviously a long shot to claim its first World Series in 26 years. For now, the Twins are focused on the Yankees, who have historically owned Minnesota in the playoffs. But New York’s past triumphs came during series. The wild-card round is a one-off, increasing the odds of an upset. The Twins’ No. 1 starter, Ervin Santana, allowed two or fewer runs in 20 of 33 starts during the regular season. If he’s that stingy against the Yankees on Tuesday – an admittedly tall order – an upset could be in the offing.

    (Poll link for app users)

     

    And now for the most important question (poll link for app users)…

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Mickey Callaway Likely To Draw Managerial Interest ]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103784 2017-10-01T16:23:24Z 2017-10-01T16:23:24Z
  • Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway will be a popular managerial candidate in the coming weeks, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets. “He’s on everybody’s list,” one executive said of the 42-year-old Callaway, who has been the Tribe’s pitching coach since 2013 and is now in charge of arguably one of the best staffs in baseball history. If Callaway does become a manager in the offseason, it’ll be with the Phillies, Tigers or Mets, barring an unexpected firing elsewhere.
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    Charlie Wilmoth <![CDATA[Indians Activate Michael Brantley]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103752 2017-09-30T19:04:46Z 2017-09-30T19:04:46Z The Indians have activated outfielder Michael Brantley from the 10-day DL, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. That means the team will have the option of placing Brantley on its ALDS roster. Manager Terry Francona had previously said the team intended to give Brantley “every chance possible,” although Bastian tweets that Brantley is not in tonight’s lineup.

    Brantley had been on the DL since early August after suffering an ankle sprain. Before that, he was productive, batting .299/.358/.445 over 372 plate appearances while returning from a 2016 campaign that was ruined by a shoulder injury.

    The Indians are currently going with an outfield mix of Austin Jackson, Jason Kipnis, Jay Bruce, Lonnie Chisenhall and others. Brantley would give them another option in left field, and possibly off the bench as well, in the playoffs. The team is also currently missing center fielder Bradley Zimmer, who’s out with a hand injury, and Brandon Guyer is currently active but struggling with a sore wrist.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Michael Brantley Nearing Return]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103534 2017-09-28T14:32:55Z 2017-09-28T14:32:55Z
  • The AL-leading Indians, meanwhile, may see a notable reinforcement of their own come back in time for the playoffs. They’re targeting a weekend return for outfielder Michael Brantley, manager Terry Francona told William Kosileski of MLB.com and other reporters Wednesday. If Brantley fares well in his first action since suffering a right ankle sprain, one that has sidelined him since Aug. 8, he seems likely to make the Tribe’s ALDS roster. “We’re trying to give him every chance possible so we can make a good decision,” Francona said. “He’ll be included in that.”
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Revisiting Indians' Acquisition Of Mike Clevinger]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103322 2017-09-24T18:41:05Z 2017-09-24T18:41:05Z
  • Terry Pluto of cleveland.com revisits the 2014 trade in which the Indians acquired right-hander Mike Clevinger from the Angels for reliever Vinnie Pestano. Clevinger has turned into a valuable starter for the Tribe this season, but when the deal went down, he was a struggling 23-year-old at the High-A level who was still working back from a 2012 Tommy John procedure. Unsurprisingly, then, Clevinger was not the Indians’ initial target in talks with the Halos. “I don’t recall who we asked for first,” president Chris Antonetti told Pluto. “It wasn’t Mike.” Nevertheless, the Indians saw enough promise in Clevinger to think he could pan out. “He was striking out a hitter an inning (58 in 55 innings). We felt with some changes to his delivery, he could throw a little harder and get more depth on his breaking ball,” GM Mike Chernoff explained. “There were some ingredients for him to succeed.”
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Indians Shut Down Shawn Morimando Due To Lack Of Innings]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103275 2017-09-23T21:58:45Z 2017-09-23T21:58:45Z
  • Left-hander Shawn Morimando has been sent home by the Indians due to a rather unusual reason — the team simply can’t find any innings for him, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.  Morimando was promoted on September 1 since the Tribe wanted extra pitching on hand for a double-header, but Morimando had yet to make an appearance over three weeks into his call-up.  Morimando will still receive service time and pay for the remainder of the year.  The 24-year-old does have some MLB experience on his resume, appearing in two games (4 2/3 IP) for Cleveland in 2016.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Michael Brantley]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=103123 2017-09-20T20:22:04Z 2017-09-20T20:22:04Z The Indians have updated the medical situation of key outfielder Michael Brantley in a team announcement (via Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, on Twitter). While the door still seems at least theoretically open to a return at some point in the postseason, it’s now apparent that Brantley won’t make it back before the end of the regular season.

    A recent examination revealed that Brantley has both a “deltoid ligament sprain” and “right ankle synovitis” — injuries which have kept him out since early August. He has been running on a specialized treadmill that keeps weight off of the lower extremities, but has yet to run on flat ground. Now, Brantley will rest for seven to ten days before he’s looked at again to see if he can begin to run.

    Clearly, there’s no way Brantley will be cleared to play in a baseball game over the next ten days, meaning he’s not going to appear before the postseason. Presumably, he’ll require at least some ramp up time before the club would trust a postseason roster spot to him, too, making it seem quite unlikely that he’d be prepared to appear in the ALDS. Beyond that, should the club advance, it’s anyone’s guess.

    The news means that the Indians won’t welcome back a key contributor as soon as had been hoped. Cleveland has played well without him — and that’s quite the understatement — but would no doubt prefer to plug in Brantley’s quality bat in left field. The loss stings all the more with youngster Bradley Zimmer also on the shelf.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[No Timetable For Michael Brantley's Return]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=102947 2017-09-17T20:31:41Z 2017-09-17T20:31:41Z
  • An ankle injury has kept Indians left fielder Michael Brantley out since Aug. 8, and it doesn’t appear he’s going to return anytime soon. President Chris Antonetti said Sunday that the Indians lack clarity on when Brantley could come back, according to Tom Withers of the Associated Press (Twitter link). That’s an unfortunate development for a historically hot Tribe club that recently lost center fielder Bradley Zimmer for the season. Cleveland started longtime second base Jason Kipnis in Zimmer’s place Sunday, with corner outfielders Jay Bruce and Austin Jackson flanking him.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Notes: Santana, Kipnis]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=102822 2017-09-15T16:22:28Z 2017-09-15T16:14:29Z
  • Indians slugger Carlos Santana admits to Zack Meisel of The Athletic that he put a significant amount of pressure on himself early this season as he entered a contract year. Santana struggled badly through the first 10 weeks or so of the 2017 campaign, but he credits first-year teammate Edwin Encarnacion — who had a tumultuous free-agent experience himself last winter — for getting his mind into a better place and turning his season around at the plate. “He told me to keep playing baseball and enjoy the (season) and play hard every day and don’t think about it,” says Santana. “He is a good influence for me and my mind.” Meisel notes that Santana hopes to remain in Cleveland — FanRag’s Jon Heyman wrote the same yesterday, as he has at various points this year — though the Indians will have some tough roster decisions to make with relatively limited finances. (A second deep playoff run, of course, wouldn’t hurt their financial outlook.)
  • Jason Kipnis is expected to start in center field for the Indians as soon as this Sunday, per Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Bradley Zimmer’s season-ending injury created an opening, and it was reported earlier this week that Kipnis would get a look there in his place. A center fielder in his college days, Kipnis isn’t exactly unfamiliar with the position, though it’s been seven years since Cleveland moved him to second base. Manager Terry Francona tells Hoynes that the training staff has to sign off on the decision still, though he adds that it’d be a surprise if they didn’t, given how healthy Kipnis has looked recently as he nears the end of his rehab from a hamstring injury.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[2017 Rule 5 Roundup]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=102751 2017-09-14T16:14:45Z 2017-09-14T14:15:17Z With just a few weeks left in the season, we have a pretty clear idea of which Rule 5 draft picks will stick with their drafting teams. At this point, having already carried the player this far and with expanded rosters easing any pressures, teams are quite likely to stay the course. Here’s how this season’s Rule 5 group has shaken out thus far:

    Keepers

    It isn’t official yet, but these

    • Miguel Diaz, RHP, kept by Padres (via Twins) from Brewers: As part of the Pads’ unusually bold Rule 5 strategy, the club kept three youngsters this year. Diaz, 22, has managed only a 6.21 ERA with a 31:22 K/BB ratio over 37 2/3 innings. But he is showing a 96 mph heater and will remain with the organization, quite likely heading back to the minors next season to continue his development.
    • Luis Torrens, C, kept by Padres (via Reds) from Yankees: The youthful backstop — he’s just 21 — has struggled badly on offense in limited action. Through 133 plate appearances, he’s slashing just.169/.246/.212 — with just four extra-base hits, none of them home runs.
    • Allen Cordoba, INF, kept by Padres from Cardinals: And then there’s Cordoba, who’s also just 21 years of age. He faded after a hot start at the plate, but on the whole his output — a .209/.284/.304 batting line and four home runs over 215 plate appearances — is fairly impressive given that he had never before played above Rookie ball.
    • Dylan Covey, RHP, kept by White Sox from Athletics: Technically, owing to a DL stint, Covey has only compiled 83 of the minimum 90 days of active roster time required to be kept. But he’s going to make it there before the season is up, meaning that the Sox will be able to hold onto his rights and option him back to the minors in 2018. Covey, 26, has struggled to a 7.90 ERA with 4.9 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 over 54 2/3 innings, allowing 18 long balls in that span.
    • Stuart Turner, C, kept by Reds from Twins: Turner has seen minimal action, appearing in just 33 games and taking only 77 trips to the plate. And he’s hitting just .141/.184/.268 in that sporadic action. Clearly, though, the Reds have seen enough to believe he’s worth the trouble to hang onto.

    Still In Limbo

    • Kevin Gadea, RHP, selected by Rays from Mariners: Gadea has not pitched at any level this year owing to an elbow injury. He’ll remain with the Tampa Bay organization for the time being, but will still need to be carried on the 40-man roster over the offseason and then on the active roster for at least ninety days for his rights to permanently transfer.
    • Armando Rivero, RHP, selected by Braves from Cubs: It’s the exact same situation for Rivero as for Gadea, though he has had shoulder problems.
    • Josh Rutledge, INF, selected by Red Sox from Rockies: This was not your typical Rule 5 move. Boston snagged the veteran infielder after he signed a minors deal with Colorado. He ended up seeing minimal MLB time owing to injuries and his season ended recently with hip surgery. Rutledge is eligible for arbitration this fall and isn’t likely to be kept on the 40-man roster regardless.
    • Anthony Santander, OF, selected by Orioles from Indians: Since he only made it off of the DL late in the summer, Santander can accrue only 45 days on the active roster. If Baltimore wants to keep him, then, it’ll need to put him on the Opening Day roster next year. Santander has seen minimal playing time thus far, recording two hits in twelve trips to the plate, though he put up impressive numbers on his rehab assignment.

    Kept By Other Means

    • Daniel Stumpf, LHP, signed with Tigers after electing free agency upon return to Royals: This is another unusual situation. As a previous Rule 5 returnee, Stumpf was eligible to elect free agency upon being returned to his original organization. That’s just what happened when Detroit sent him back to Kansas City; the southpaw then turned around and re-signed a MLB deal with the Tigers. He has ended up turning in a rather productive year, posting 32 1/3 innings of 2.78 ERA ball with 8.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 at the major-league level and showing even more impressive numbers during his time at Triple-A.

    Already Returned

    • Tyler Jones, RHP, returned to Yankees by Diamondbacks: Jones has thrown rather well at Triple-A since going back to the New York organization, posting 10.7 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings, though he has also allowed 4.38 earned per nine.
    • Caleb Smith, LHP, returned to Yankees by Brewers: Smith ended up earning a 40-man roster spot and spending some time in the majors after showing quite well as a starter in the minors. But he has been knocked around in his 18 2/3 MLB frames on the year.
    • Justin Haley, RHP, returned to Red Sox by Twins (via Angels): The 26-year-old didn’t stick with Minnesota, allowing a dozen earned runs in 18 innings before being returned to Boston. But he has thrown well since landing back at Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a 2.66 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 44 innings over seven starts.
    • Tyler Webb, LHP, returned to Yankees by Pirates: Webb also gained a 40-man spot with the Yankees after showing some intriguing K/BB numbers at Triple-A. He was ultimately dealt to the Brewers.
    • Aneury Tavarez, OF, returned to Red Sox by Orioles: Tavarez played his way back up to Triple-A upon his return to his former organization, but has hit just .244/.292/.400 in 145 plate appearances there.
    • Glenn Sparkman, RHP, returned to Royals by Blue Jays: Sparkman was bombed in his one MLB appearance and has been limited to just 30 1/3 minor-league frames due to injury.
    • Hoby Milner, LHP, returned to Phillies by Indians: Another player who has risen to the majors with the organization that originally let them leave via the Rule 5, Milner has turned in 24 1/3 frames of 1.85 ERA ball in Philadelphia. Of course, he has also managed just 15 strikeouts against ten walks in that span.
    • Mike Hauschild, RHP, returned to Astros by Rangers: The 27-year-old righty struggled badly in his eight MLB frames. Upon returning to the rotation for Houston’s top affiliate, Hauschild has uncharacteristically struggled with free passes (5.3 per nine).
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    Charlie Wilmoth <![CDATA[Bradley Zimmer Out Six To Eight Weeks Following Hand Surgery]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=102536 2017-09-12T21:44:58Z 2017-09-12T21:08:41Z Sept. 12: Doctors estimate that Zimmer will need six to eight weeks before he’s ready for full baseball activities, which seems to largely eliminate the possibility that he’d be able to return to contribute in the postseason (Twitter links via MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian).

    Sept. 11, 9:23pm: Zimmer is set to undergo surgery on his broken hand tomorrow, Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon-Journal reports on Twitter. It’s still not known exactly how long Zimmer is likely to be sidelined.

    12:49pm: Zimmer is expected to miss the rest of the season, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports via Twitter.

    This is a significant blow to an Indians team that has won 18 in a row and has their sights set on a return to the World Series. Zimmer’s defense in center field has been well above average according to advanced metrics. It’s unclear whether Zimmer will be able to return for any amount of time in the postseason, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility. It’s worth noting that even with a broken hand, Zimmer could have a place on the roster as an emergency pinch-runner in high-leverage situations.

    Sept. 10: Indians manager Terry Francona says outfielder Bradley Zimmer has a broken bone in his hand, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. To be precise, Zimmer has fractured the fourth metacarpal on his left hand, as Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal tweets. The injury occurred when Zimmer slid into first base and had his hand stepped on by Chris Davis in the Indians’ game against the Orioles Sunday.

    We won’t know more about Zimmer’s injury until he sees a hand specialist tomorrow, but his broken bone appears to be a significant bit of bad news for an Indians team that has otherwise had plenty to celebrate lately. This is the second injury in ten days that Zimmer has suffered while diving — he came up with concussion issues after attempting a diving catch earlier this month.

    The 24-year-old Zimmer has emerged as a solid contributor in his rookie season. He’s batted a modest .243/.310/.389, but has created good value with his baserunning (he has 18 steals while only being caught once) and center field defense, resulting in a solid 1.5 fWAR over his first 100 games. Assuming Zimmer has to miss time, the Indians have a variety of players who could help in center field. Austin Jackson has ample experience at the position. Tyler Naquin, Abraham Almonte and speedy newcomer Greg Allen could represent other possibilities there.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Will Try Jason Kipnis In Outfield; Andrew Miller Nearing Return]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=102608 2017-09-12T01:53:39Z 2017-09-12T01:53:39Z After reeling off eighteen-straight wins — soon to be 19– the Indians now possess the best record in the American League. But Cleveland is still working through some injury-related roster issues as the postseason approaches.

    In particular, with Bradley Zimmer joining Michael Brantley on the DL, the club is experimenting with utilizing longtime second baseman Jason Kipnis on the outfield grass, as MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis is nearing his own return from a hamstring injury, but Jose Ramirez now stands in his way at second with Giovanny Urshela settling in at third. While Urshela doesn’t offer much with the bat, he is regarded as a quality defender at the hot corner.

    Given the team’s current needs, then, Kipnis can perhaps be of greater function on the grass. And he won’t exactly be hidden as he attempts the move: manager Terry Francona noted that Kipnis will receive a look in center field. Though the skipper also made clear that the team isn’t exactly committed to the move, and isn’t necessarily giving up on a return from Zimmer, it does seem the experiment will be given some run. It’s worth bearing in mind that Kipnis did features as an outfielder in college (and briefly as a professional), so he does have some background to draw from.

    Kipnis says he’s happy to contribute any way he can at this juncture. It has been a tough season for him thus far. In between injuries, he carries a .228/.285/.409 batting line with 11 home runs. Defensive metrics have also soured on Kipnis’s glove, which had rated as a positive over the prior two seasons. If the move sticks in the short term, it’ll be interesting to see if it has any impact on Cleveland’s offseason plans. Kipnis is under contract through at least 2019 for a guaranteed $30.5MM, so he’ll return in some capacity barring a surprising trade.

    In other news, also covered by Bastian, lefty relief star Andrew Miller seems to be on the mend from his recent knee problems. A plan for his return to the major-league hill has yet to be nailed down, but it seems that could happen in relatively short order so long as Miller responds well to a live bullpen session that took place today. With the division already all but secured, the Indians will surely be in no rush to get Miller back. Rather, the overarching concern will be ensuring that he’s at full speed for the postseason.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Indians Release Dan Robertson]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=102487 2017-09-11T02:36:45Z 2017-09-11T02:36:09Z
  • Also from Eddy, the Indians released outfielder Dan Robertson.  In 88 plate appearances for the Tribe, Robertson hit .225/.287/.338 with a home run.  Robertson signed a minor league deal with Cleveland last winter and was released and re-signed to a new deal in August by the club.

    [SOURCE LINK]
    • Also from Eddy, the Indians released outfielder Dan Robertson.  In 88 plate appearances for the Tribe, Robertson hit .225/.287/.338 with a home run.  Robertson signed a minor league deal with Cleveland last winter and was released and re-signed to a new deal in August by the club.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Sawchik On Yandy Diaz's Approach]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=102343 2017-09-08T02:10:33Z 2017-09-08T02:10:33Z
  • Indians prospect Yandy Diaz has demonstrated elite exit velocity but also an extreme tendency to hit the ball on the ground, writes Travis Sawchik of The Athletic (subscription required and recommended). The 26-year-old Diaz signed out of Cuba for $300K three years ago, and while he’s never cracked many top prospect lists, his exit velocity and outstanding eye at the plate (14 percent walk rate, more walks than strikeouts in the minors) make him an intriguing breakout candidate despite his age. In addition to chatting with Indians assistant hitting coach Matt Quatraro about Diaz’s approach, Sawchik breaks down Diaz’s point of contact and recent adjustments to his swing as he looks to carve out a role on the team moving forward.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Move Danny Salazar To Bullpen]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=102341 2017-09-07T23:53:33Z 2017-09-07T23:53:33Z The Indians are moving right-hander Danny Salazar to the bullpen, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Salazar lasted just two-thirds of an inning in his first start off the disabled list due to inflammation in his right elbow.

    To call the 2017 campaign and up-and-down year for Salazar would be an understatement. The 27-year-old pitched poorly through the season’s first two months before a brief move to the ’pen followed by a subsequent placement on the disabled list for shoulder fatigue. He returned roughly six weeks later and looked like the Salazar of old — dominating hitters and racking up prodigious strikeout totals. From July 22 through Aug. 15, Salazar tossed 32 1/3 innings with a minuscule 1.39 ERA and a gaudy 46-to-9 K/BB ratio. Salazar surrendered only five runs in those 32 1/3 frames, but he allowed six runs in his next start (4 2/3 innings) before landing back on the DL.

    Salazar’s move to the relief corps points to a rotation consisting of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Josh Tomlin down the stretch, though manager Terry Francona did tell Hoynes that the team will try to get Salazar a two- or three-inning appearance in the near future. That could give Salazar an opportunity to stretch back out for the postseason,  but he could also simply be multi-inning weapon for October if he takes to his new role well and remains healthy.

    Looking beyond the 2017 season, the injuries and the late move to the bullpen this year figure to hamper his arbitration earnings. Salazar avoided arbitration as a Super Two player for the first time last winter, agreeing to a fairly sizable $3.4MM salary. He’ll still receive a raise on that figure for the 2018 season, but the extent of that salary increase will be reduced thanks to his limited innings and lack of productivity for much of the year. Cleveland controls Salazar through the 2020 season, and he’ll be arbitration-eligible a total of three more times (including this upcoming offseason).

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[AL Notes: Astros, Salazar, Profar, Travis]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=102292 2017-09-07T02:35:51Z 2017-09-07T02:13:29Z The Astros have reallocated resources away from traditional scouting roles to newer methods of assessing talent, most notably eliminating eight positions recently. It’s a move that could signal yet another stage of development in the now-ensconced analytical revolution, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic explores in detail through conversations with numerous key industry figures (subscription required and recommended). Houston is one of a few teams drawing back on the live-game player analysis of pro scouting. That said, per Rosenthal, other clubs have increased their staff sizes, making for a multitude of approaches around the game. The piece is essential reading for baseball fans.

    Here are some more notes from the American League:

    • Danny Salazar’s first start upon returning from the disabled list lasted just two-third of an inning and put his spot in the Indians’ postseason rotation in question, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Trevor Bauer, like staff aces Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, is pitching well right now, Hoynes observes, and right-handers Mike Clevinger and Josh Tomlin have also been throwing better (should a fourth starter be needed). Hoynes wonders if the Indians could again use Salazar as a bullpen piece in the playoffs, noting that the righty did at least display strong velocity in his otherwise ugly outing.
    • With the Rangers foregoing an opportunity to bring up Jurickson Profar this month, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News examines how the one-time uber prospect fell entirely out of the club’s plans. If Texas can’t even find a use for him with expanded rosters, it only stands to reason that the team will elect to move on over the winter — even if that means taking far less in return than once would have seemed reasonable. As Grant notes, that’s particularly true given that Profar will be out of options. Surely some other team will offer something to take a shot on a player who is still just 24 years of age and won’t command much of a raise on his $1.05MM arbitration salary. Notably, too, given his minimal MLB time this year — and the Rangers’ decision not to activate him in September — Profar will be controllable through arbitration for three more seasons.
    • While Devon Travis has mostly been excellent for the Blue Jays when healthy, he has also appeared in only 213 games over the past three years while dealing with a variety of injuries. That has led to some suggestions that he might be best off moving off of second base to the outfield, though GM Ross Atkins (via MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm, on Twitter) doesn’t sound wholly convinced of the idea. Atkins suggested some openness, but emphasized that it could be explored “more in the context of versatility” rather than that of improving durability. The GM made clear that he thinks Travis is most valuable as the team’s everyday second baseman and also stressed that there’s no real “research” showing that shifting onto the grass would really help keep Travis on the field.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Indians Sign Cuban Right-Hander Roberto Hernandez]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=102023 2017-09-04T02:26:42Z 2017-09-04T02:25:48Z
  • The Indians have signed 16-year-old Cuban right-hander Roberto Hernandez to a deal with a $320K bonus, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports.  Hernandez wasn’t included within MLB.com’s top 30 or BA’s top 50 rankings of 2017-18 international prospects, though Badler describes the righty as “one of the better” arms available in the July 2 class.  Cleveland had an international spending pool of $5.75MM to work with in this signing period, and $3.825MM has already been accounted for by the team’s signings of youngsters George Valera, Aaron Bracho, Jose Tena and Wilfi Peralta.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Notable September Call-Ups]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=101842 2017-09-02T07:02:41Z 2017-09-02T03:00:58Z September 1 marks the date on which regular-season rosters expand from 25 to 40 in Major League Baseball. While the merit of that rule and its impact on games are a source of debate — MLB games tend to increase considerably in length in September as managers can more freely make pitching changes with deeper bullpens — the fact remains that there could be more than 100 players promoted to the big leagues today as the first wave of call-ups arrives.

    Many September call-ups are players that have experience already under their belt. Journeyman big leaguers with exceptionally specific roles (e.g. pinch-running and defensive specialists) become a luxury that teams can now afford, and many teams will bring up a third catcher or additional bullpen arms for depth, even if a long-term MLB role isn’t likely for said players.

    Some promotions, though, are more notable than others. Big league teams will often use the month of September to get a look at their top organizational prospects, and in some instances September can provide a potential audition for former stars seeking to reestablish themselves. (The Orioles, for instance, were reported last night to be bringing slugger Pedro Alvarez up from Triple-A for the season’s final month.)

    All that said, here are some of this year’s more notable September promotions (we’ll update throughout the day as more moves are announced)…

    • Four new youngsters are joining the Cardinals, the team announced. Outfielder Harrison Bader and infielder Alex Mejia were already on the 40-man, but the team has also gone ahead and added righty Sandy Alcantara and backstop Alberto Rosario. Alcantara is an interesting pitcher to keep an eye on, as he reputedly comes with a big arm and could contribute from the bullpen — though he’s still ironing things out as a starter after spending the year pitching to a 4.31 ERA at Double-A.
    • The Indians announced that they’ve recalled top catching prospect Francisco Mejia from Double-A Akron and selected the contract of outfielder Greg Allen from Akron, thus adding him to the 40-man roster. The 21-year-old Mejia is commonly regarded as one of the top 25 prospects in all of Major League Baseball and was reportedly the would-be centerpiece to the Jonathan Lucroy trade that Lucroy vetoed in 2016. Allen, too, was set to be a part of that trade but has instead remained in the Indians organization and will now join Mejia in donning a big league jersey for the first time this month.
    • Right-hander Fernando Salas will return to the Angels, who announced last night that his contract has been selected from Triple-A Salt Lake. Salas spent parts of three seasons as a useful bullpen arm for the Angels before a trade to the Mets last August. While he dominated for New York down the stretch, Salas was torched for a 6.00 ERA this year after re-signing with the Mets. He tossed three scoreless innings in Salt Lake City and will hope for a strong finish to bolster offseason interest.
    • The Blue Jays, too, will be getting another look at an old friend. Outfielder Michael Saunders is joining the Jays as a September call-up, tweets MLB.com’s Greg Johns. While Saunders is merely looking to show well in his return to the Majors after struggling badly with the Phillies earlier this season, another outfielder is looking to carve out a long-term role in Toronto; trade acquisition Teoscar Hernandez is also on his way to the Majors, per Johns. The 24-year-old Hernandez was acquired in the Francisco Liriano swap and has posted a combined .265/.351/.490 batting line in 456 Triple-A plate appearances this season.
    • The Mets are promoting right-handers Jacob Rhame and Jamie Callahan, tweets MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. While neither reliever is considered to be among the game’s best prospects — they rank 23rd and 30th, respectively, on MLB.com’s list of the Mets’ top 30 prospects — both were recently acquired on the trade market. Rhame came to the Mets from the Dodgers as the return for Curtis Granderson, while Callahan arrived in Queens by way of the Addison Reed trade with the Red Sox. Both will be looking to make a strong impression as they seek to secure a long-term spot in the Mets’ bullpen.
    • The Tigers are getting their first look at left-handed reliever Jairo Labourt, per a team announcement. The 23-year-old was acquired alongside Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd in exchange fo David Price back in 2015. He’s turned in an excellent 2.17 ERA across three minor league levels this season and averaged better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings, albeit with some shaky control (4.5 BB/9).
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Yankees Acquire Erik Kratz From Indians]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=101667 2017-08-31T16:46:27Z 2017-08-31T16:37:49Z The Yankees announced that they’ve acquired veteran catcher Erik Kratz from the Indians in exchange for cash considerations.

    The 37-year-old Kratz has spent parts of the past seven seasons in the Majors, logging a combined .200/.248/.362 batting line in 647 plate appearances as an up-and-down reserve option. He’s had a very nice year with Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate, however, posting a robust .270/.359/.472 slash with 13 homers in 324 plate appearances. Kratz has also thwarted 37 percent of stolen base attempts against him this season in Triple-A and posted characteristically solid framing marks (per Baseball Prospectus).

    Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine will remain the two primary catchers in the Bronx, but the addition of Kratz gives the Yankees a veteran option to serve as a third catcher down the stretch in September when rosters expand. Notably both Sanchez and Romine are facing potential suspensions following the Yankees’ recent brawl with the Tigers, so Kratz can help fill in during their absences as well.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 8/30/17]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=101620 2017-08-30T23:57:06Z 2017-08-30T23:57:06Z Here are Wednesday’s minor moves from around the league…

    • The Indians announced that right-hander Diego Moreno has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus after being recently designated for assignment. Cleveland claimed Moreno off waivers from Tampa Bay in late July, but he didn’t appear in a game for their Major League club. In 27 1/3 minor league innings this season, Moreno has logged a 0.99 ERA with a 27-to-4 K/BB ratio, though his overall Triple-A track record isn’t quite as impressive (3.54 ERA in 175 1/3 innings with similar strikeout rates but lesser control). Moreno has allowed nine earned runs on 15 hits and five walks with 14 strikeouts in 16 Major League innings — including 5 2/3 frames with the Rays earlier this year.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Indians Select Craig Breslow’s Contract, Designate Diego Moreno]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=101313 2017-08-26T19:27:42Z 2017-08-26T19:08:42Z The Indians have selected the contract of veteran left-hander Craig Breslow from Triple-A Columbus, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports (via Twitter).  In corresponding moves, lefty Ryan Merritt was optioned to Triple-A and right-hander Diego Moreno was designated for assignment.

    Breslow signed a minor league deal with the Tribe earlier this month after being released by the Twins at the end of July.  Breslow posted a 5.23 ERA, 1.5 K/BB and 5.2 K/9 over 31 innings for Minnesota, though those unimpressive overall numbers mask some glaring splits.  Right-handed hitters accounted for much of the damage against Breslow this season, while he held left-handed hitters to just a .200/.279/.257 slash line (over 44 PA).

    With Andrew Miller on the DL, Breslow adds some veteran depth to a Cleveland bullpen that only has one other left-hander (Tyler Olson, who is yet to allow a run over 10 innings pitched this season).  Miller isn’t expected to be out of action long, and when he returns after the September 1 roster expansion, so the Tribe will have their multi-inning threat as well as two southpaws in Breslow and Olson who can handle more specific situations against lefty bats late in games.

    Moreno was claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay last month and he has since made six appearances for Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate.  Moreno has a 2.97 ERA, 9.3 K/9 and 3.7 K/BB rate over 424 2/3 career innings over ten years in the minors, as well as a 5.06 ERA over two brief stints in the big leagues (10 1/3 IP with the Yankees in 2015 and 5 2/3 IP with the Rays this season).

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Andrew Miller Diagnosed With Patellofemoral Syndrome, Shut Down 5-7 Days]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=101228 2017-08-25T19:30:54Z 2017-08-25T19:30:54Z Indians lefty Andrew Miller has been diagnosed with “patellofemoral syndrome” in his right knee, per a club announcement (via Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer, on Twitter). At this point, he’ll just need to be shut down for five days to a week before being reevaluated.

    The diagnosis doesn’t appear to be all that concerning. Rather, it’s a common condition that can occur when cartilage underneath the kneecap is not functioning properly. It seems likely that the club will largely be looking to get the inflammation and discomfort under control before allowing Miller to ramp back up.

    All told, then, the news is as good as the Indians could have hoped for. Certainly, when Miller left his most recent outing after sitting well below his usual velocity level, there were some fears it could be worse. The key fact is that there’s no bone, muscle, or ligament damage. And the relatively short rest period that has been prescribed seemingly indicates that doctors anticipate the joint ought to respond fairly quickly to treatment.

    Cleveland has been hit with a sudden rash of injuries, with Danny Salazar and Jason Kipnis also just heading to the DL. Players such as Josh Tomlin, Michael Brantley, and Lonnie Chisenhall are all on the shelf as well, so the Indians still have quite a few notable players working back toward full health. Fortunately, the team maintains a sturdy, 5.5-game lead in the AL Central, so there’s a decent bit of cushion to work with.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Place Miller, Salazar, Kipnis On 10-Day DL]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=100970 2017-08-23T20:32:43Z 2017-08-23T20:32:47Z 3:32pm: The team doesn’t currently have a timetable for Kipnis’ return, manager Terry Francona tells reporters (Twitter links via Bastian). An MRI revealed a strain, but there could be some scar tissue forming in Kipnis’ hamstring as well. As for Miller, the Indians consulted with the Cleveland Cavaliers’ medical staff to get another opinion on dealing with this type of injury to a player of Miller’s height. They’ll have a more detailed update tomorrow, but it doesn’t appear that the injury is especially serious.

    Aug. 23, 1:57pm: Kipnis is headed to the DL with what the team is calling a hamstring strain, though the severity isn’t yet known. Infielder Erik Gonzalez has been recalled to take his roster spot.

    Aug. 22, 10:38pm: Indians fans can breathe a sigh of relief with respect to Salazar, as Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon-Journal tweets that his MRI came back clean. That said, Salazar will still “be down a few days before being built back up,” per Lewis.

    Unfortunately for Cleveland fans, though, there’s now yet another injury situation over which to have some trepidation. Second baseman Jason Kipnis exited tonight’s game in the second inning with tightness in his right hamstring, and Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets that Kipnis is scheduled for an MRI of his own tomorrow.

    Kipnis was on the disabled list from July 9 through Aug. 6 due to a strained right hamstring and missed three additional games with discomfort in that same hamstring earlier this month.

    4:22pm: MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets that Salazar felt “tightness” in his right elbow during a side session Tuesday and will undergo an MRI later tonight.

    2:23pm: The Indians have placed two key hurlers — lefty Andrew Miller and right-handed starter Danny Salazar — on the 10-day DL, per a club announcement. The team has recalled righty Shawn Armstrong and infielder Yandy Diaz to take the open roster spots.

    It’s disappointing to see both Miller and Salazar landing back on the DL so soon after recent trips. The former left his appearance last night after a worrying dip in velocity, as his patellar tendinitis flared up. Meanwhile, the latter has been diagnosed with elbow inflammation. He missed a lengthy stretch with shoulder woes, but had pitched brilliantly in his first five starts upon his return before turning in a dud in his last outing.

    The outlook on these two pitchers isn’t yet clear, but Cleveland will obviously be hoping for a relatively quick return. While the Indians do enjoy a fairly healthy 5.5-game cushion in the AL Central, that’s hardly an unassailable position. If a repeat postseason run is to be had, the club will need these high-powered arms at its disposal.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Andrew Miller Leaves With Aggravation Of Knee Injury]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=100923 2017-08-22T04:04:45Z 2017-08-22T02:40:09Z Star Indians reliever Andrew Miller left his appearance today with what the team is calling an aggravation of the right knee patella tendinitis that recently sent him to the DL, as MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. His outlook is not currently known.

    Miller missed little more than the minimum earlier this month, and threw without apparent issue on Friday. But he exited after just seven pitches tonight, issuing a walk and showing a significantly reduced fastball velocity. Miller, who typically sits at 95 mph, was clocked at an average of around 90 mph this evening.

    It’s too soon to know whether there’s cause for real concern. And Cleveland can afford to exercise caution with a five-game lead (entering today’s action) in the AL Central. Still, at this stage of the season, it’s a bit worrying to see such a showing from such an important piece of the team’s hopeful post-season roster.

    Even if it turns out that Miller’s situation is serious, the Indians would have no realistic hope of finding a similarly valuable arm on the August trade market. With Boone Logan possibly out the rest of the way, though, any questions surrounding Miller could leave the club with added impetus to find another southpaw reliever.

    Fortunately for Cleveland, Tyler Olson has been a revelation since ascending to the MLB roster. Through 11 appearances this year — already matching a career-high — Olson has racked up 13 strikeouts (on a 13.6% swinging-strike rate) against just one walk without allowing a run.

    The Indians also announced that first baseman Carlos Santana departed the contest with lower-back tightness. There’s little reason at this point to believe that is an injury of any significance.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[MLBTR Mailbag: Lowrie, Bruce, Giants, Controllable Starters]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=100678 2017-08-19T14:50:12Z 2017-08-19T13:24:38Z Thanks as always for your questions! If yours wasn’t selected this week, you can always pose it in one of our weekly chats: Steve Adams at 2pm CST on Tuesdays, Jason Martinez at 6:30pm CST on Wednesdays, and yours truly at 2pm CST on Thursdays.

    Here are this week’s questions and answers:

    Why is it so hard for the A’s to move Jed Lowrie? — Rene H.

    Well, there has been a bit of a game of musical chairs in the second/third base market. The Red Sox went with Eduardo Nunez. The Nationals grabbed Howie Kendrick, who can also play outfield. The Brewers ended up with Neil Walker in August. Those deals filled some of the main needs out there, though there are at least a few teams that could still make a move. The Angels stand out; the Indians have looked in this area; and the Blue Jays could be a dark horse if they make a run.

    But let’s suppose a few organizations are indeed still poking around on Lowrie. Those same teams will also have other options to consider. Ian Kinsler is now off the market after his waiver claim was revoked by the Tigers. But Brandon Phillips and Zack Cozart are both pending free agents who could move. Yangervis Solarte may not clear waivers, but could be claimed and pursued. And Asdrubal Cabrera also represents a possibility.

    Cabrera, like Lowrie, comes with a club option for 2018. In Lowrie’s case, it’s just a $6MM cost to keep him (against a $1MM buyout). He has surely played well enough to make that a decent asset to move over the winter. And perhaps Oakland isn’t all that anxious to press Franklin Barreto into everyday duty in the majors just yet. After all, he’s only 21, didn’t hit much in his brief debut, and has encountered a rising strikeout rate at Triple-A. Lowrie could help stabilize the infield the rest of the way or even in 2018, or he could still be flipped if a decent offer comes along.

    How do you guys see the [free-agent] market for Jay Bruce developing? I have a hard time believing that a 30/31-year-old who has six seasons where he OPSed over .800 would have trouble locking down a fourth year at a $13MM AAV. — Alex W.

    As Alex helpfully pointed out in his email, there are indeed quite a few corner outfielders that have landed free-agent contracts in that range. Recent deals that could work as comparables run from Nick Markakis (4/$44MM) and Josh Reddick (4/$52MM) up to Nick Swisher (4/$56MM) and Curtis Granderson (4/$60MM). Bruce is a plausible candidate to land in that general realm.

    I do think Bruce is flying under the radar a bit, given the obvious appeal of his quality offensive output this year — .267/.334/.541 with 32 homers. It doesn’t hurt that he has turned things on thus far since going to the Indians, has finally reversed the abysmal defensive metrics, and is regarded as a top-shelf professional. The two lost seasons of 2014 and 2015 are hard to ignore entirely, and he has never hit lefties nearly so much as righties, but he has returned to his prior trajectory since and has been average at the plate when facing southpaws this season. Plus, there won’t be any draft compensation to contend with.

    But where exactly he falls, and whether he gets a fourth year or instead takes a higher AAV over three, will depend upon market forces. J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton (if he opts out) would be the two top corner outfielders, but both are righty bats that would require very significant contracts. Granderson and Melky Cabrera will present alternatives for teams seeking lefty pop, but neither has quite Bruce’s present power and both are much older. All things considered, Bruce should be fairly well positioned.

    I’m wondering if the Giants’ plan to re-tool, rather than rebuild, has a reasonable chance of success. Does SF have only two or three spots, like one outfielder and two pitchers, that will make the difference in being competitive? Or will the re-tooling need to involve more spots on the roster, like two outfielders, maybe an infielder (third base), and three or four pitchers? And are there players available in free-agency for them to do that? — Tim D.

    Let’s start with the presumption that Johnny Cueto opts into the remainder of his deal. That would fill one of the rotation slots but also keeps a lot of cash on the books — over $150MM total already for 2018, with more than $100MM promised in each of the next two seasons. And the club will also have to consider what it’ll cost to keep Madison Bumgarner around past 2019.

    Looking over the roster — see the current depth chart here — the Giants will face questions in a variety of areas. Third base is unresolved, the team needs at least one starting outfielder (a center-field-capable player would perhaps be preferred, bumping Denard Span to left), and several bench/platoon roles are open to question. The team will likely at least look into adding a starter, though it could choose instead to go with Matt Moore along with Ty Blach or another less-established pitcher to line up behind Cueto, Bumgarner, and Jeff Samardzija. Bullpens can always be improved, though the Giants can hope for a bounceback from Mark Melancon and continued performance from reclamation hit Sam Dyson in the late innings.

    On the whole, then, perhaps a more dramatic roster overhaul isn’t really needed. Assuming the club is willing to spend up to, but not past, the $180MM-ish payroll it carried entering the current season, that leaves some room to add. But the long-term commitments and 2017 downturns certainly also speak in favor of exercising some caution. I’d expect a focus on striking shorter-term deals with veterans.

    Possibilities at third could include Pablo Sandoval, Todd Frazier, and Yunel Escobar, or the Giants could go bigger and chase the still-youthful Mike Moustakas. In the outfield, Lorenzo Cain would be the top center-field target, though he’ll be entering his age-32 season and won’t be cheap. There are some interesting alternatives, including Carlos Gomez, Jon Jay, and Jarrod Dyson. It’s also possible the Giants could chase Bruce or another corner piece while adding a player like Austin Jackson to platoon with Span in center. And as ever, there are lots of different pitchers available at different price points should they look to add there.

    Ultimately, there ought to be decent value available in the price range the Giants will be shopping. Whether that’ll work out or not … well, that’s dependent upon quite a few other factors and is tough to predict at this point.

    Which young, controllable starters (like Chris Archer, for example) will potentially be available via trade this upcoming offseason? –Matt H.

    Archer is certainly a good example of a guy who could be available and who’ll be asked about quite a lot. Depending upon how things end up for the Rays this year — currently, it’s not trending in the right direction — they may be more or less inclined to undertake a more dramatic move such as dealing the staff ace.

    Generally, though, I’d expect the pickings to be slim. Several teams that sit in the bottom of the standings and have young arms don’t seem likely to move them. For instance, I don’t really expect the Mets (Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, etc.), Blue Jays (Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez), or Phillies (Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez) to be looking to deal young starters.

    There are a few other names to watch, though. Michael Fulmer of the Tigers would figure to draw some of the most fervent interest, and Detroit has to be thinking creatively entering an offseason full of questions. The Pirates could decide that now’s the time to move Gerrit Cole, though he’ll only have two years of control remaining so may not really meet the parameters. Julio Teheran of the Braves will surely again be a topic of speculation, at least, and the Marlins will have to consider cashing in Dan Straily.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 8/16/17]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=100470 2017-08-16T19:34:50Z 2017-08-16T19:34:50Z Here are some of the latest minor moves from around the game, courtesy of Baseball America’s Matt Eddy except where otherwise noted:

    • The Mariners outrighted right-hander Christian Bergman to Triple-A after he cleared waivers, per a club announcement. Bergman, 29, had the right to opt for free agency now or at the end of the season; given that he’s now listed on Tacoma’s roster, it seems he’ll wait and consider the latter option when the time comes. Bergman, 29, has thrown 51 1/3 innings on the year for Seattle, working to a 4.91 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.
    • Outfielder Daniel Robertson will return to the Indians on a minors deal after being designated for assignment and then released, the club announced. The 31-year-old has appeared in each of the past four MLB campaigns — each time with a different team.  This year, he took 88 plate appearances for Cleveland, slashing .225/.287/.338. While it’s not clear whether Robertson will factor at the major league level again this year, the fleet-footed, high-contact 31-year-old could conceivably make for a useful bench piece once rosters expand in September.
    • The Diamondbacks have added right-handers Andury Acevedo and Louis Coleman on minors deals. Acevedo, who’ll soon turn 27, was intriguing enough to land a 40-man spot with the Cubs a few years back, but has yet to show any consistency on the mound in the upper minors. As for Coleman, who threw 48 innings of 4.69 ERA ball last year for the Dodgers, he’ll return to Arizona after briefly testing the open market. He has worked to a 2.05 ERA with 10.6 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 over 57 innings this year in stints with the D-Backs’ and Reds’ top affiliates.
    • Heading to the Reds on a minors deal is slugging outfielder Adam Walker. He has bounced around via waiver claims and minor-league deals of late, seeing time in three organizations thus far in 2017. All told, he has compiled a tepid .185/.220/.410 batting line — with a dozen home runs but also 88 strikeouts against just ten walks — in his 241 plate appearances in the upper minors.
    • The White Sox released infielder Grant Green, who had previously seen brief action in the majors this year with the Nationals. On the season, Green owns an overall .232/.306/.300 slash over 245 plate appearances at the Triple-A level with those two organizations. The 29-year-old was once considered a notable possible contributor with the Athletics and Angels, but has managed only a .248/.283/.336 batting line in his 353 trips to the plate in the majors.
    • Six-year MLB veteran Collin Cowgill has been released by the Padres. Cowgill, 31, joined the organization on a minors deal over the winter, but never earned a crack at a return to the majors. He carries a .235/.297/.390 slash through 220 plate appearances
    • Finally, the Rangers have released lefty Bobby LaFromboise and righty Jaye Chapman. The former has made 27 MLB appearances and shown some intriguing numbers at times, but struggled last year at Triple-A with the Phillies and was sidelined for much of the current season. The 30-year-old Chapman, meanwhile, is looking to work back toward the majors for the first time since his lone stint back in 2012. But he was hit hard in his 36 2/3 innings at Triple-A Round Rock, with a 6.63 ERA and 6.9 K/9 against 5.2 BB/9.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Lonnie Chisenhall, Michael Brantley]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=100442 2017-08-16T01:48:17Z 2017-08-16T01:42:53Z
  • The Indians’ acquisition of Jay Bruce could push the injured Lonnie Chisenhall from right field to left field once he’s activated from the DL, writes MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. Cleveland has a left field vacancy of sorts at the moment due to Michael Brantley’s ankle injury, and Bastian writes that there’s currently no timetable for Brantley’s return. Per manager Terry Francona, Brantley is still in a walking boot and is still “in the healing stages” of his recovery from a sprained right ankle. Chisenhall has never even played a full inning in left field as a big leaguer, but he made a smooth transition from third base to right field and has graded out as an above-average defender there since 2015, per Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Miller, Chisenhall Nearing Returns]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=100291 2017-08-14T14:25:12Z 2017-08-14T14:07:12Z
  • Andrew Miller is scheduled to make a minor league rehab assignment on Wednesday this week, and the Indians are expecting him to need just one appearance before being activated, per Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. If all goes well, that seems to point to a total of roughly two weeks on the shelf for Miller, who hit the disabled list back on Aug. 3. Hoynes also notes that outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall began a rehab assignment on Sunday, so he could return from a lengthier absence (on the disabled list since July 9) in the relatively near future as well.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Indians Re-Sign Perci Garner To Minors Deal]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=99908 2017-08-11T01:58:21Z 2017-08-10T22:30:34Z
  • The Indians have re-signed righty Perci Garner to a minor league contract, tweets Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. Cleveland just released Garner, 28, a week ago. Injuries have limited him to 15 2/3 frames between Double-A and Triple-A this year.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Designate Daniel Robertson]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=99869 2017-08-10T16:08:46Z 2017-08-10T16:04:58Z The Indians have designated outfielder Daniel Robertson for assignment, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. His 40-man spot was needed for the just-acquired Jay Bruce.

    Robertson, 31, has seen action in each of the past four MLB seasons — including a 32-game run this year in Cleveland. But he has never shown much with the bat, with a cumulative .262/.314/.328 slash over 386 trips to the plate.

    Through 178 plate appearances at Triple-A on the year, Robertson is slashing .340/.407/.409 — reflective of his typical blend of excellent plate discipline and little pop. Robertson has also swiped quite a few bags as a professional, though he’s just 7-for-12 at Triple-A this year and has only successfully taken a bag in half of his dozen career attempts in the majors.

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