The Indians announced Wednesday that a pair of veteran non-roster invitees have been informed that they will not make the Opening Day club: right-hander Justin Grimm and infielder Ryan Flaherty. While the club indicated that the pair is weighing opt-out clauses, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that Flaherty has already declared his intent to exercise his opt-out provision and will become a free agent.
Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal tweets that Alex Wilson is also not going to make the roster and is currently exploring options with his agent. The Indians made clear to all three veterans that they hoped to retain them in Triple-A, though that won’t happen with Flaherty at the very least. Lastly, Cleveland announced that right-hander Tyler Clippard has been released but re-signed to a new minor league deal.
Flaherty, 32, hit .217/.298/.292 through 182 plate appearances with the Braves last year and was long a versatile but light-hitting utility piece for the Orioles prior to his lone season in Atlanta. The left-handed hitter is a career .216/.286/.347 batter in 1452 plate appearances and has experience playing all over the infield as well as in the outfield corners.
Wilson, also 32, has been a steady member of the Tigers’ bullpen over the past four seasons, working to a combined 3.20 ERA with a below-average 5.8 K/9 mark but a quality average of 2.1 BB/9. He’s averaged 6.3 punchouts per nine innings pitched over the past two seasons and logged the second-best grounder rate of his career in 2018 (49.2 percent), but his general lack of strikeouts has led fielding-independent pitching metrics to view him less favorably than his generally solid earned run average. This spring, he allowed just two runs on five hits and two walks with seven stirkeouts in 8 2/3 innings.
The 30-year-old Grimm, meanwhile, allowed one earned run on eight hits and four walks with nine punchouts in 8 1/3 innings with Cleveland this spring. He was once a high-quality setup option for the Cubs but has stumbled to a 6.69 ERA over his past 72 2/3 big league innings. That said, Grimm has continually showed an ability to miss bats in the Majors and in the upper minors.
As for Clippard, the 34-year-old has been sidelined for the past five days by a pectoral injury that was originally believed to come with a roughly two-week timeline. The exact reason for his newly structured minor league pact could come down to a matter of altered opt-out clauses or even altered base salary/incentives, but the Indians reportedly made clear at the time of his injury that they hoped to work out a deal to retain him. It would appear they’ve reached an agreement to do so, and it seems quite likely that assuming Clippard’s injury heals as expected, he’ll emerge as a big league option for the Indians early in the year. For now, he’ll remain in MLB camp and continue rehabbing, per the team’s announcement.