Cleveland Indians – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-11-13T14:01:50Z WordPress Mark Polishuk <![CDATA["Nearly A Zero Chance" Indians Re-Sign Michael Brantley]]> 2018-11-12T04:26:12Z 2018-11-12T04:26:12Z
  • “There is nearly a zero chance Michael Brantley will return to the” Indians in 2019, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes.  A reunion between the two sides seemed pretty unlikely, as Brantley’s strong 2018 season has put him in line for a lucrative free agent contract.  This made him an imperfect fit to return to the Tribe’s outfield, as Cleveland may be exploring ways to cut some veterans from the payroll while still looking to contend again next season.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Market Notes: Yankees, Padres, Gray, Athletics, Cards]]> 2018-11-10T04:14:13Z 2018-11-10T04:14:13Z With the GM Meetings now wrapped up, the stage is set for the offseason action to get underway. Of course, we’re still waiting for some significant dominoes to fall … and everyone involved is no doubt curious to see how this year’s market will develop after the 2017-18 dud. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports cites some warning signs on spending levels; readers interested in the higher-level picture will want to give his reasoning a look.

    While we wait for some hard data points to be set down, the just-completed meetings left quite a few rumors. We’ve covered many over the past several days; here are a few more worthy of note:

    • Though the Yankees seem unsettled at first base, Jon Heyman of Fancred reports that they haven’t reached out to the Diamondbacks on slugger Paul Goldschmidt. The potential rental slugger, one of the game’s steadiest offensive producers, is reportedly on the trading block. While the Yankees got stunning production from Luke Voit over a brief stretch late last year, and still have Greg Bird on hand, it wouldn’t be surprising if they sought to add a bigger piece.
    • Unsurprisingly, the Bronx organization seems fixated first on pitching. Beyond its free agent targets, the club is looking into the biggest possible names on the trade market. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that the Yanks have opened a line of communication with the Mariners on James Paxton. And the New York delegation to the GM Meetings met with their peers from the Indians, per Jon Heyman of Fancred (via Twitter), with Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco both covered in conversation. It obviously isn’t at all surprising to hear that the Yankees have checked in on these distinguished hurlers, but it’s nevertheless a notable bit of information as the market continues to develop.
    • There are quite a few possibilities for the Padres, writes Dennis Lin of The Athletic (subscription link), as the organization is feeling a need to show some real strides in the win-loss department. We’ve heard chatter recently about the desire for a young starter and the series of potential trade pieces, but Lin’s most interesting notes seem to focus on the left side of the infield. Manny Machado is not seen internally as a realistic target, with Freddy Galvis still under consideration at short. If the team really wants to push things forward, though, Galvis or another veteran may only warm the seat up for top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. At third, Josh Donaldson does not appear to be the first name on the club’s list of targets. Rather, says Lin, the current plan is to seek a new third baseman via trade.
    • So, where have the Padres set their sights for a third baseman? There aren’t many obviously available options that would figure to represent everyday pieces. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported recently, though, that the Pads are interested in pursuing Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who recently posted a big campaign on the heels of what now looks to be quite a team-friendly extension. Given the Cincinnati organization’s inclination to begin pushing toward contention, that seems like a tough deal to swing for Padres GM A.J. Preller.
    • Acee also tabs the Padres as a suitor for Yankees righty Sonny Gray, who’s being openly marketed. Whether Gray would be seen as fulfilling the club’s rotation needs, or rather serving as a potential complement to a more significant addition, isn’t clear. There are other teams with interest in Gray, of course. Per’s Mark Feinsand, at least five organizations have inquired, and it wouldn’t be surprising to hear of more. Among those contemplating a move is Gray’s former employer. The Athletics evidently think their former staff ace could bounce back in Oakland, per Jon Heyman of Fancred. Of course, it remains to be seen how much the A’s will be willing to stake on a turnaround. Meanwhile,’s Mark Feinsand hears that at least five teams have inquired with the Yankees on Gray’s availability — the A’s presumably among them. Gray is projected to top $9MM in arbitration earnings this winter, but he thrived away from Yankee Stadium last season and had plenty of encouraging secondary metrics beyond his rudimentary ERA.
    • We’ve heard recently that the Cardinals intend to explore the relief market, with one southpaw on the team’s priority list. Accordingly, it’s no surprise to hear that the club is among the many teams to show early interest in veteran lefty Andrew Miller, as’s Jon Morosi tweets. Miller is drawing interest after getting some good news on his knee, so there’ll be no shortage of competition. At this point, it’s entirely unclear where he’ll end up.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Expected To Extend GM Mike Chernoff]]> 2018-11-07T13:59:24Z 2018-11-07T13:58:10Z NOVEMBER 7: It’s “believed” that a new deal is in place, per Jon Heyman of Fancred (via Twitter), though there’s still no clear confirmation of that.

    OCTOBER 17: The Indians are in discussions with general manager Mike Chernoff about a contract extension, according to’s Buster Olney (via Twitter).

    The likelihood of a deal being struck, and on what terms, isn’t yet apparent. Indeed, little is known about Chernoff’s existing contract status.

    Chernoff was promoted to the GM seat just over three years ago, with Chris Antonetti ascending to become the president of baseball operations. But there was no indication at the time of the duration of his contract at that time, and it does not appear as if it has been reported in the interim.

    It’s not hard to understand why the Cleveland organization remains happy with its front office mix. Since the pair of leaders were promoted, the ballclub has reeled off three-straight AL Central titles. While the team hasn’t been as successful in the postseason over the past two seasons as it was in 2016, when it nearly won the World Series, the overall results have been excellent.

    While the front office has been allowed to dip into the pocketbook a bit more of late, the key drivers of the organization’s success have been a pair of superstars (Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez) and trio of outstanding starters (Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer) who were wisely compiled through the draft, international market, and trades. Chernoff and Antonetti will now be tasked with building a new group of accompanying players to keep the competitive baseball going.

    Whether or not the talks with Chernoff are of recent vintage isn’t known. Neither is it evident whether Antonetti is also up for a new deal. It does seem that the negotiations with Chernoff may help explain why the New Jersey native declined to take an interview with the Mets, who are looking for new front office leadership.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Market Chatter: White Sox, Zunino, Kimbrel, Cards, Giants, Phils, Yanks]]> 2018-11-06T19:29:22Z 2018-11-06T19:29:22Z What role will the White Sox play in this free agent market? It’s an open question whether the club will come away with any significant players, but it also seems increasingly likely that it will be heavily involved at all levels of the market. MLBTR did not pick the South Siders to land any of the top fifty free agents, but as noted in that post, the club could pursue quite a few of the players listed.’s Jon Morosi even names the White Sox as potential pursuers of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic points out the case for the Sox to spend (subscription link), while Jon Heyman of Fancred tweets that the club is expressing an inclination to “take a step forward now.” Meanwhile, on the other side of town, indications remain that the Cubs will not spend a big chunk of change this winter, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post is the latest to report (Twitter link).

    Clearly, the White Sox are an interesting team to watch. Even if it’s arguably a bit premature for significant investments, it certainly doesn’t hurt that they play in the sport’s worst overall division. Elsewhere …

    • The competition in the AL West seems to be driving the Mariners to sell. It’s unclear as yet how deep the cuts will go, but talks are already opening up. The M’s are chatting with the Rays about catcher Mike Zunino, per Rosenthal (via Twitter). With two years of control remaining, the 27-year-old backstop presents an interesting alternative to the free agent market for catchers. He’s an inconsistent but high-powered offensive performer who is generally seen as a quality defender.
    • The Cardinals and incumbent Red Sox are among the suitors for veteran closer Craig Kimbrel, according to Jon Morosi of Kimbrel is among the players who appear to be candidates to land earlier-than-usual contracts, by Morosi’s reckoning. (He mentions a few possible landing spots for others on his list, though it’s not apparent that the connections are based upon more than his analysis.)
    • Certainly, it seems the motivation is there for the Cardinals to pursue significant players. As Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, the St. Louis front office is looking hard at ways to improve. GM Mike Girsch says the team has a competitive roster as things stand, but wants to exit the offseason with “a division-leading roster.” The piece is full of worthwhile reading for Cards fans, particularly those interested in gaining some perspective on the team’s market positioning in relation to Harper and Machado. All told, it seems reasonable not to rule the Cards out as a possible pursuer of any free agent.
    • Manny and Bryce are popular considerations for most teams, of course, even if they won’t realistically be pursued by all that many organizations. The Giants are perhaps a likelier suitor than may be evident from a passing glance, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. While the San Francisco organization struggled last year, has quite a few big contracts on the books, and doesn’t currently have a GM in place, Shea says that this kind of ownership-driven decision could still be pursued.
    • Lost in the hype for those popular young free agents is the never-ending search for pitching. While the rotation was and is a strong suit for the Phillies, that doesn’t mean they can’t improve. Indeed, as Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia writes, it could make sense for the organization to use some trade assets to add a starter — in addition, of course, to pursuing a superstar position player on the open market. Salisbury tabs southpaws Robbie Ray of the Diamondbacks and James Paxton of the Mariners as two particular names to watch.
    • Likewise, as they consider their pitching options, the Yankees will look at the still-developing trade market. Per Heyman, via Twitter, the Yanks have at least some level of interest in the top arms that have newly entered the sphere of trade candidates. New York’s brass will meet with their counterparts with the Indians, who are dangling Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. The Yankees are also said to have some interest in Paxton. Those three are among the game’s better starters, so it’s hardly surprising to hear the connections.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Michael Brantley, A.J. Pollock Hire Excel Sports Management]]> 2018-11-06T15:17:50Z 2018-11-06T14:15:47Z TODAY: Also heading to Excel is outfielder A.J. Pollock, another key piece of the free agency puzzle this winter. Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription link), Pollock is staying with his own agent, Brian Peters, who’s also moving to Excel.

    YESTERDAY: Outfielder Michael Brantley has hired Excel Sports Management to represent him in free agency, SB Nation’s Devan Fink recently reported on Twitter. He is moving to Excel from The Legacy Agency along with agent Kenny Felder and some of Felder’s other clients, including George Springer of the Astros and Lewis Brinson of the Marlins.

    Of this trio, Brantley’s case is of particular note since he’s now a free agent. He recently reached the open market without having received a qualifying offer, meaning any team can sign him without surrendering draft compensation.

    Brantley, 31, spent ten seasons with the Indians. The latter half of his time in Cleveland was played under an extension that included an option for the 2018 season, which the club picked up at $11MM. However, the $17.9MM QO proved too rich for the Indians, even after watching Brantley turn in a nice effort in 2018.

    While he’s hardly an eye-popping power threat for a corner outfielder, Brantley is an exceptional contact hitter who is plenty valuable on offense. He finished the 2018 campaign with a .309/.364/.468 slash along with 17 home runs and a dozen steals. Brantley was a tough out, with a 9.5% strikeout rate that only just exceeded his 7.6% walk rate.

    Brantley’s new reps will no doubt pitch their client as a high-quality performer with the bat who showed recently that his particular skills haven’t waned. He can also provide some value on the bases, though Brantley isn’t particularly well-regarded defensively and is also somewhat vulnerable to left-handed pitching.

    The biggest questions surrounding Brantley, though, don’t involve his quality of play. Rather, they concern his ability to stay on the field. Brantley has endured a series of travails that cast some doubt on his durability, particularly given the cumulative effects. At the same time, he was healthy in 2018 and offers a hitting skillset that isn’t easy to come by. MLBTR recently named him the tenth-best free agent on the market, predicting a three-year, $45MM contract.

    Find up-to-date information on player representation in MLBTR’s Agency Database.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians “Will Listen” To Trade Proposals On Key Veterans]]> 2018-11-03T01:31:29Z 2018-11-03T01:31:29Z The Indians remain in a highly competitive stance coming out of the 2018 season, particularly in an exceedingly weak overall American League Central division. After three-straight divisional titles, the organization still has one of the game’s best — and most affordable — core talent groups.

    Still, there are plenty of needs on the roster and seemingly less resources to utilize to fulfill them. The club has in recent years both committed salary and dealt well-regarded prospects to supplement its fantastic bunch of stars.

    Given this state of affairs,’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter link), the Indians “will listen to trade offers” involving key veteran players. He specifically cites top hurlers Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, along with pricey veterans such as Edwin EncarnacionYan Gomes, and Jason Kipnis, as theoretical trade chips.

    Importantly, and unsurprisingly, the club’s two still-youthful, amply controllable stars — Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor — will remain off limits. There’s certainly little reason for the Indians even to contemplate moves involving those players, whose contract rights are among the most valuable in the entire sport.

    The most interesting element of this report, undoubtedly, is the possibility of the Indians offering up some of their top-flight pitching talent. Kluber and Carrasco are both excellent pitchers, but they are also signed to highly appealing contracts. The former, a perennial Cy Young contender, can be controlled through 2021 for as little as $30.5MM (though his 2020 and 2021 options can rise in value based upon his Cy placement). The latter, who’s also a top-10 starter over the past three seasons, will pitch for just $9.75MM next and little more in 2020 (his option, too, can be boosted based on the voting).

    There’s no specific mention of righty Trevor Bauer, who emerged to take a place alongside his more-accomplished rotation mates. He’s just as plausible a candidate to be moved from an outside perspective, though, given that he’s down to two more years of arbitration control. Bauer is the most youthful of the three, but doesn’t figure to be an extension candidate given his stated preference never to agree to a multi-year deal. Still, he’s projected to earn a bargain $11.6MM for 2019 with one more arb year to go thereafter.

    Any of these three pitchers would be hotly pursued this winter, because there just aren’t many alternatives. As our recent Market Snapshot series discussed, the trade market doesn’t seem to offer much in the way of high-end pitching– at least at affordable rates of pay. Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Madison Bumgarner do not appear particularly likely even to be discussed in trades. Zack Greinke is still good, but his remaining obligation of $95.5MM is more than it cost the Dodgers to retain Clayton Kershaw earlier today. Meanwhile, the free agent market has a few talented hurlers on offer, but that’ll entail long-term commitments and much greater financial risk.

    For some organizations, the possibility of landing one of the Indians pitchers would be a dream scenario. Of course, there’s little question that the Cleveland organization will demand a princely sum. Given its near-term ambitions, far-away prospects likely won’t headline a deal. Instead, the Indians are sure to demand high-quality players that can step right into the lineup while also providing greater long-term value than the starters who’d be dealt. While the Indians may be willing to stake a bet on their ability to find good innings from within, at least sufficient to come out ahead of the divisional opponents, it’s hard to look past the fact that the American League features a few teams that have aggregated an awful lot of talent. Rolling the dice on other hurlers (Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber, Adam Plutko, Danny Salazar) could be a viable strategy, but only if the Indians can secure young players they truly believe in with a swap.

    As for the other players on the Indians roster that could be moved, it seems reasonable to suppose that cost-savings would be a leading motivator. Encarnacion can still swing the bat, but he wouldn’t command his remaining obligation ($25MM, including a 2021 option buyout) on the open market. Gomes rebounded with the bat in 2018, but is earning a relatively hefty $7MM, plus $2MM in buyouts on a pair of options ($9MM and $11MM, respectively) that seem unlikely to be exercised. (Fellow backstop Roberto Perez also receives mention from Olney, though he’s much cheaper and his control runs further into the future. He also struggled notably in 2018.) No doubt the club would like to find a taker for some of the $17MM still owed Kipnis ($2.5MM of which is in a buyout), but other organizations would only stake so much on a rebound. First baseman Yonder Alonso ($8MM salary plus $1MM buyout on 2020 option) would also seem a hypothetical possibility.

    All things considered, there are quite a few fascinating possibilities to consider. Elite young position-player talent and/or cost savings seem clearly to be in mind here for the Indians. It may require a bit of a tightrope walk to pull things off, but the market situation seems generally favorable to the attempt.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Will Not Issue Any Qualifying Offers]]> 2018-11-02T17:39:28Z 2018-11-02T17:37:42Z 12:37pm:’s Jordan Bastian tweets that Cleveland won’t issue any qualifying offers. That means Brantley, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen will all reach free agency without the burden of draft compensation attached to them. The latter two were never really viewed as candidates for a QO, though each will be among the most intriguing relievers available this winter — even on the heels of a down season.

    12:05pm: The Indians aren’t expected to issue a $17.9MM qualifying offer to left fielder Michael Brantley prior to this afternoon’s deadline, tweets Buster Olney of

    Brantley, 31, was a borderline case for a QO and may have received one were he on a team without such tight payroll constraints. The three-time All-Star bounced back from shoulder and ankle injuries in 2018 to post an excellent .309/.364/.468 batting line with 17 homers and a dozen steals in 631 plate appearances, marking his healthiest season since the 2014 campaign. He was amog the toughest players in the league to strike out, as he went down on strikes in just 9.5 percent of his plate appearances this past season.

    Brantley’s ability with the bat has never been in question, but his durability has become a concern in recent seasons. “Dr. Smooth” averaged 148 games and 623 PAs per season from 2012-15 but suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery late in that 2015 campaign. He was limited to 11 games as a result the following season and was held to 91 games in 2017, due largely to a series of ankle issues.

    Nonetheless, Brantley is a career .295/.351/.430 hitter and a .311/.371/.475 hitter dating back to a 2014 breakout that saw him finish third in American League MVP voting. The Indians, though, already project to carry what would be a club-record $145MM payroll for the 2019 season (including arbitration-eligible and pre-arb players) and likely didn’t feel comfortable risking nearly $18MM more on a player with Brantley’s injury history accepting that sizable one-year offer. Had he accepted, Brantley would’ve been ineligible to be traded without his consent until June 15 of next year.

    The decision means that, barring a last-minute change of heart, Cleveland could lose Brantley to free agency without any form of draft-pick compensation. That’s not an ideal scenario for the Indians, though it’s a trickle-down effect of the recent success they’ve had atop the AL Central, as the franchise-record payroll is largely the product of investing heavily in Edwin Encarnacion and ponying up on contract extensions to retain aces Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Outright Brandon Barnes]]> 2018-11-02T14:16:22Z 2018-11-02T14:16:22Z The Indians announced this morning that outfielder Brandon Barnes cleared outright waivers and elected free agency. Cleveland also reinstated Tyler Naquin, Cody Anderson, Nick Goody, James Hoyt, Danny Salazar and Leonys Martin from the 60-day disabled list in a series of procedural moves.

    Barnes, 32, went 5-for-19 with a homer in a brief September appearance with Cleveland — his first big league action since the 2016 season. The former Rockies/Astros outfielder is a career .242/.290/.357 hitter in 1274 big league plate appearances and enjoyed a solid season with the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate in 2018 (.273/.347/.447, 14 homers, 19 steals in 132 games).

    The right-handed-hitting Barnes has traditionally been a bit more effective against left-handed pitching, as one might expect, and he’s logged considerable experience at all three outfield slots over the course of 14 professional seasons. He’ll likely find a minor league deal in free agency and head to Major League Spring Training as a non-roster invitee in 2019.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Agree To Avoid Arbitration With Leonys Martin]]> 2018-10-31T19:57:40Z 2018-10-31T19:13:54Z The Indians have agreed with outfielder Leonys Martin on an arbitration deal for the 2019 season, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links). He’ll earn $3MM under the contract, though as with most arb deals it is not fully guaranteed at this time.

    Martin, 30, was acquired in the middle of the 2018 season to be a key contributor down the stretch. After six productive games in Cleveland, though, he was sidelined by a terrifying bacterial infection that cost him the remainder of the season — and nearly much more. While there are surely still some roadblocks left to hurdle, it’s immensely promising to hear that the Cleveland organization has cause to believe Martin will be able to play in the coming season.

    Once a regular with the Rangers and Mariners, Martin had a disappointing 2017 campaign. Still, he secured a $1.75MM contract with the Tigers, who placed a bet that Martin’s bat could catch back up somewhat to his productive glove and legs.

    That’s just what happened, as Martin turned in a .255/.323/.425 slash with 11 long balls in 353 plate appearances before he hit the shelf. Based on those numbers, MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz had projected Martin to command a $2.8MM salary in his final trip through the arb process. Notably, Martin’s case included some unusual factors, including his initial guarantee as an international free agent and the fact that he had previously played for a higher arbitration salary before signing for less as a free agent.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Exercise Club Option Over Carlos Carrasco, Buy Out Brandon Guyer]]> 2018-10-30T15:39:02Z 2018-10-30T15:03:11Z The Indians announced their club option decisions today, and didn’t have any surprises in store. Righty Carlos Carrasco will return at a $9.75MM price tag, while outfielder Brandon Guyer receives a $250K buyout rather than a $3MM salary.

    There was never a thought that Cleveland would pass up a chance on retaining Carrasco at that rate. He’s controllable in 2020 as well under an option that’s priced just $500K higher than the 2019 version.

    At those rates, the 31-year-old hurler is one of the game’s best bargains on the mound. He has turned in year after year of outstanding results, backed by compelling peripherals. Most recently, in 2018, he spun 192 frames of 3.38 ERA ball with 10.8 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9.

    Guyer came up in the Cubs’ system after they drafted him in the 5th round of the 2007 draft. He made his big league debut with the Rays after they acquired him with Chris Archer and others in 2011’s Matt Garza swap with Chicago. The Indians acquired him from Tampa in August of 2016 for a pair of minor leaguers.

    His usefulness is limited to the outfield corners versus left-handed pitching. For his career, he’s hit .273/.376/.449 with a 130 wRC+ against left-handed pitching, but only .224/.297/.323 with a 74 wRC+ against right-handed pitching. Last season, Guyer struggled in 104 games for the Indians, slashing .206/.300/.371. He’ll be 33-years-old at the start of 2019 season and is now a free agent. 

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Could Tribe Re-Sign Allen Or Miller?]]> 2018-10-28T17:13:26Z 2018-10-28T17:13:26Z
  • Neither Andrew Miller or Cody Allen had a season to remember in 2018, though could those disappointing years actually make it more likely that one of the two relievers returns to the Indians bullpen in 2019?  Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer explores the possibility as part of a reader mailbag, with the caveat that “this is a buyer beware situation even on a one-year deal.”  Miller was hampered by multiple injuries en route to a 4.24 ERA over 34 innings for the Tribe last season, while Allen simply lacked consistency, posting a career-high 4.70 ERA over 67 frames.  The prevailing wisdom had been that Cleveland wouldn’t be able to afford to re-sign either pitcher in free agency, though if either Miller or Allen was willing to take a one-year pillow contract (with an eye towards pitching better and then looking for a multi-year contract in the 2019-20 offseason), it’s possible the Tribe could be open to that type of short-term expenditure.  The price tag will be an issue, of course, as Cleveland already has over $135MM in projected payroll for next season and still must address other needs this winter.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Lonnie Chisenhall's Future]]> 2018-10-27T23:36:37Z 2018-10-27T23:36:37Z
  • There’s almost no chance the Indians will re-sign pending free-agent outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall, Jordan Bastian of writes. The 30-year-old’s coming off his second straight injury-plagued season (he played just 82 games in 2017 and only 29 in ’18), and the Indians seem to have a cheaper in-house replacement in Tyler Naquin, Bastian observes. Chisenhall, to his credit, was a strong offensive contributor during his limited playing time over the past couple years. He has also been a member of the Cleveland organization since it drafted him 29th overall in 2008, so a parting of ways would mean the end of a long union between the two sides.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 10/26/18]]> 2018-10-26T17:16:19Z 2018-10-26T17:16:19Z We’ll track some minor moves from around the game here…

    • The Indians announced yesterday that they’ve re-signed left-hander R.C. Orlan and right-hander Shao-Ching Chiang to minor league contracts and invited both to Major League Spring Training in 2019. Orlan returned from injury in 2018 and worked his way back to Triple-A by season’s end, posting a combined 0.61 ERA with a 39-to-7 K/BB ratio across 29 2/3 innings. Much of that impressive-looking work came against Rookie-level opposition for the 27-year-old Orlan, but he also combined for 17 1/3 shutout innings between Double-A and Triple-A, making it easy to see why the organization was quick to retain him. Chiang, 24, generated strong results in a dozen Double-A starts before struggling more in his first 11 career starts at the Triple-A level. In all, the Taiwanese righty pitched to a 3.90 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 136 innings.
    • Baseball America’s Matt Eddy runs through a couple hundred minor league signings, releases, Arizona Fall League assignments, Winter League assignments and free-agent elections in his latest Minor League Transactions roundup, which has notes on all 30 big league clubs. Among the more recognizable names to formally elect free agency were Pedro Alvarez, George Kontos, Carter Capps and Chase Whitley. All should have been expected when they weren’t on 40-man rosters at season’s end, but the formalities are still at least of some note.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tribe Considering Diaz At Third, Kipnis In Left Field?]]> 2018-10-21T23:41:59Z 2018-10-21T23:41:59Z
  • In a look at what the Indians’ lineup could look like in 2019, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that “serious consideration” is being given to the idea of deploying Yandy Diaz as a regular third baseman.  With Diaz at the hot corner, All-Star Jose Ramirez would move back to second base while Jason Kipnis shifted into a left field role.  The 27-year-old Diaz posted above-average numbers (115 OPS, 115 wRC+) over 120 plate appearances for the Tribe last season, batting .312/.375/.422.  Though Diaz’s .353 xwOBA was only slightly ahead of his real-world .346 wOBA, it’s safe to say that a healthy .371 BABIP surely contributed to Diaz’s success, especially given how Diaz continued to have issues avoiding ground balls.  (To this end, his 53.3% grounder rate in 2018 was actually an improvement over his numbers in the minors.)  When he has put the ball in the air, however, Diaz has shown some tremendous exit velocity, and he has consistently posted strong on-base skills in the minors and in Cuba.  Diaz has played all over the diamond during his pro career but has spent the bulk of his time as a third baseman, giving Cleveland an internal option at the position as they figure out how to best maximize Ramirez’s production, as well as try to solve the twin struggles of Kipnis’ two-year-long slump, and a lack of outfield depth on the roster.
  • Speaking of that latter issue in Cleveland, Pluto notes that “the outfield screams for help via a trade.”  Michael Brantley could leave in free agency and Bradley Zimmer is recovering from shoulder surgery, leaving the Indians with a projected outfield mix of Kipnis, Greg Allen, Leonys Martin, and Tyler Naquin.  The Tribe won’t have much in the way of extra payroll to spend in free agency, so signing a big name outfielder or perhaps even re-signing Brantley could be difficult.  Re-signing one of their other veteran free agents (Rajai Davis, Lonnie Chisenhall, Melky Cabrera) wouldn’t be a substantial upgrade, leaving the trade market as the most logical route.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[The Mets’ GM Search]]> 2018-10-20T22:50:39Z 2018-10-20T19:48:17Z Not long after longtime general manager Sandy Alderson stepped down from his post with the Mets earlier this summer, it became clear that the organization would conduct an extensive search to tab a new head of baseball operations. Assistant GM John Ricco and special assistants J.P. Ricciardi and Omar Minaya have been overseeing the team’s baseball operations department on an interim basis, but the Mets are now formally in search of a new department leader.

    There have been multiple reports that owner Fred Wilpon is eyeing a more traditional general manager with scouting-based acumen (an “old school” type of executive, to use a broad description), while his son, COO Jeff Wilpon, is more focused on hiring an analytically-inclined executive that more closely aligns with recent industry trends. Per Jon Heyman of Fancred, the Mets are leaving some candidates with the sense that the new hire won’t quite enjoy a full slate of baseball ops power. As he puts it, the impression is that Omar Minaya or one of the other existing assistant GMs could retain control over player development functions. Team sources that spoke with Heyman denied that was the case, however.

    As we’ve done with some recent managerial searches, we’ll track the majority of the updates in the Mets’ GM search here as they navigate the early phases of the process.

    Latest Update — 10/20

    • Doug Melvin and agent Brodie Van Wagenen are the favorites to land the job, per Mike Puma of the New York Post.
    • Ng and Bloom are still being considered for the position, per Puma.
    • Littlefield, if not already eliminated, is considered a “long shot” at this juncture.
    • Close and former Mets GM Omar Minaya can’t “completely be ruled out” at this time, per Puma and Joel Sherman.

    Latest Update — 10/19

    • It seems that agent Casey Close is also still in the mix. Martino tweets that he, Van Wagenen, Bloom, Ng, and Melvin appear to make up the finalists.
    • LaRocque is no longer under consideration, Marc Carig of The Athletic reports (Twitter link).
    • Agent Brodie Van Wagenen is still in the picture after receiving an initial interview, per Carig (via Twitter). (Carig initially tweeted the opposite, but amended his report.)
    • The Mets only consider Littlefield a “fringe” contender to land the position, per Mike Puma of the New York Post.
    • DiComo now tweets that Watson did not receive a call for a second interview and is no longer in the running for the position.

    Earlier Updates — 10/19

    • The Mets have interviewed six to eight candidates and will enter the second round of interviews next week, per’s Anthony DiComo (Twitter link). Fred Wilpon will join the interview process in place of John Ricco for the second wave of sitdowns. DiComo notes that Littlefield, Bloom, LaRocque, Watson, Melvin and Ng are the six known candidates to date.
    • It’s not fully clear whether all six to eight candidates who’ve interviewed are ticketed for a followup session, though. Andy Martino f writes that the Mets have not yet determined which of the first round interviewees will be spoken with next week. Interestingly, Puma tweets that the Mets plan to make each finalist available to the media after his or her second interview is completed, so it seems as though there’ll be some transparency in the latter stages of the process.

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