Cleveland Indians – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-06-23T06:09:15Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Steve Adams <![CDATA[Trade Candidate: Zach Britton]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125545 2018-06-22T16:49:14Z 2018-06-22T16:49:14Z As the non-waiver trade deadline draws nearer, Zach Britton will be among the most oft-speculated and oft-rumored players to be on the move. It’s difficult to fathom a scenario in which the Orioles don’t trade their longtime closer, given that the alternatives are losing him for nothing or issuing a qualifying offer worth more than $18MM to a player who has currently thrown 41 2/3 innings dating back to Opening Day 2017.

Zach Britton | Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s that level of uncertainty surrounding Britton, though, that makes his trade candidacy particularly intriguing. It stands to reason, of course, that several teams will be interested in the once-dominant lefty. FanRag’s Jon Heyman reports that the Astros (who nearly acquired Britton last July) and Indians are already in on Britton. It’s reasonable to expect that virtually every team within a stone’s throw of contending will check in on Britton (or already has checked in on Britton) between now and the deadline. But should Britton be considered a premium trade chip?

Britton is teeming with name value — and with good reason. From 2014-16, he was very arguably the best relief pitcher on the planet. Over that three-year stretch the southpaw posted a 1.38 ERA with 9.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 0.3 HR/9 and a historic 77.9 percent ground-ball rate in 209 innings. He set the all-time record for single-season ground-ball rate in 2015 and then broke his own record a year later when a staggering 80 percent of balls put in play against him were hit on the ground. Britton missed bats and limited walks, and it was virtually impossible to lift the ball against him. He was an absolute buzzsaw in the ninth inning. No relief pitcher in the game topped Britton’s 9.5 RA9-WAR in that time.

In the time that has followed, however, Britton has seen his 2017 season cut roughly in half by forearm injuries. Then, in the offseason, he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon that required surgical repair and ultimately kept him on the shelf until mid-June. He’s only just now returned, and he’ll have scarcely more than six weeks to show contenders that he’s worthy of being deemed an impact reliever once again. Had Britton been his usual self in 2017, perhaps it’d be worth giving him the benefit of the doubt on the heels of a non-arm injury. But the 2017 version of Britton, in spite of a solid 2.89 ERA, simply didn’t look all that dominant.

Last year’s 18 percent strikeout rate (7.0 K/9) was Britton’s lowest since moving to the bullpen in 2014. His 11.5 swinging-strike rate was his lowest as a reliever by nearly five percent, and his 31.8 percent chase rate was six percent lower than his 2015-16 peak. Britton still induced grounders at an elite rate (72.6 percent), but not at the historic levels he’d reached in the three preceding seasons. And after walking just 6.9 percent of the hitters he faced from 2014-16, Britton walked 11.2 percent of his opponents last season en route to a 4.34 BB/9 mark. Britton was a good reliever last season, but he wasn’t elite and didn’t perform at a level commensurate with his $11.4MM salary.

Britton still received a raise to $12MM, though, even after the Orioles knew he’d require surgery to repair his ruptured Achiles, and that salary is all the more problematic now in 2018. Britton is owed about $6.45MM through season’s end, as of today. (It’d be about $3.94MM on the day of the non-waiver trade deadline.) That’s a rather significant sum for a team in the middle of the season — especially with the number of contenders who are either over the luxury tax limit (Nationals, Red Sox) or trying hard to remain slightly south of it (Yankees, Dodgers, Giants).

So far in 2018, Britton has only faced 17 batters and totaled 4 1/3 innings of work, so it’s hard to glean all that much from his early results. That said, it should be of at least mild concern that his average sinker is down from 96.1 mph in 2017 to 93.7 mph in 2018. He’s allowed just one hit in facing those 17 opponents and picked up five strikeouts, but he’s also walked four of them and thrown a first-pitch strike to just eight of them. That wouldn’t be especially concerning in a vacuum, but given the backdrop of last season’s control issues, it’s hardly promising to see Britton struggling with to locate the ball early out of the gates.

Clearly, there’s still time for Britton to rebuild his trade value. Even if his velocity doesn’t trend all the way back up, he’d be plenty appealing if he could scale back the walks and continue inducing grounders at an elite level. The O’s could (and should be willing to) increase his trade value by agreeing to pay down some or all of his significant salary, but that hasn’t been the front office/ownership’s M.O. in recent years. (To the contrary, the O’s have parted with Competitive Balance draft picks in order to shed relatively minimal commitments to relievers Ryan Webb and Brian Matusz.)

Britton’s trade candidacy, perhaps more than any other player who is likely to be moved this summer, is punctuated by “ifs.” If his velocity returns, if his control improves, if last year’s lack of whiffs proves to be a fluke and if the Orioles are willing to absorb some salary, he may very well end up looking like the premium trade chip that many expect him to be based on his name value. Right now, however, Britton looks like a solid but expensive reliever whose on-field results haven’t lined up with that name value in nearly two calendar years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

]]>
49
Steve Adams <![CDATA[Adrian Beltre Drawing Trade Interest]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125516 2018-06-21T23:29:52Z 2018-06-21T23:21:22Z Both the Phillies and Indians have varying levels of interest in Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com. Philadelphia’s interest is portrayed a bit more strongly in the report, whereas Morosi writes that “[a]t least some within the Indians organization would like to acquire Beltre,” who is familiar with skipper Terry Francona from the 2010 season with the Red Sox.

The Rangers’ stance as sellers on this summer’s trade deadline has been clear for weeks. Texas currently sits 12 games below .500 and an insurmountable 18 games out of first place in the American League West. They’re a similarly daunting 14.5 games out of the American League Wild Card chase.

While trade interest in Beltre figures to pick up as the deadline draws nearer, it’s not yet clear whether the 39-year-old Beltre will waive his 10-and-5 rights, which allow him to veto any trade scenario with which he is presented. Certainly, there’s a logical case to be made that given his age, Beltre would prefer to go somewhere with a chance to win a World Series ring. At the same time, he’s been with the Rangers since 2011 and undoubtedly has a comfort level with his teammates, the coaching staff, the city and Rangers fans. He’s earning $18MM this season — with approximately $9.77MM of that sum still owed to him through season’s end.

For the Phillies, it’s not difficult to see the appeal Beltre brings to the organization. Philadelphia third baseman have posted a lackluster .235/.300/.399 batting line so far in 2018, and their third basemen have been seven runs below average in the field according to both Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved. There’s been little in the way of value provided from either Maikel Franco or J.P. Crawford, the latter of whom just went on the disabled list for up to six weeks after incurring a broken hand when he was hit by a pitch two days ago.

The Indians, meanwhile, have a less obvious need, considering the brilliance of Jose Ramirez, who has broken out as a full-fledged superstar over the past two seasons. Ramirez is hitting a ridiculous .291/.391/.611 with 22 homers, 20 doubles, a triple and 10 steals (in 12 tries) while playing strong defense at third base. However, Ramirez is also a more-than-capable second baseman, and the Cleveland organization has received virtually no production at that position from former star Jason Kipnis (.208/.282/.328 in 295 plate appearances). Acquiring Beltre would allow Cleveland to shift Ramirez to second base.

Clearly, Beltre isn’t the player that he once was. But the future Hall of Famer has still notched an impressive .302/.357/.428 slash with three homers, nine doubles and a triple so far through 182 plate appearances. However, he’s also had a pair of DL stints this season due to hamstring strains and has begun to see more time at designated hitter as a means of keeping his legs healthier. That could limit some of his appeal to an NL club such as the Phillies, though with Crawford, Franco and Scott Kingery on the roster, the Phils have the depth to rest Beltre a couple of times per week should they deem it necessary.

]]>
83
Steve Adams <![CDATA[Amateur Draft Signings: 6/20/18]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125435 2018-06-20T17:58:07Z 2018-06-20T17:58:07Z Previously reported near-agreements for Angels first-rounder Jordyn Adams and Cubs first-rounder Nico Hoerner have now become official, according to a pair of reports from Jim Callis of MLB.com and Jon Heyman of FanRag Sport (Twitter links). Adams will take home a $4.1MM bonus that tops his slot value by roughly $700K, while Hoerner receives the full-slot value of $2.724MM, as The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney said was likely when reporting the deal to be close.

Here’s an update on some notable signings from the top few rounds of the draft (rankings referenced are courtesy of Fangraphs, MLB.com, Baseball America and ESPN’s Keith Law; Fangraphs and MLB.com scouting reports are available to the public free of charge, while the others require subscriptions):

  • The Indians have signed supplemental first-rounder Lenny Torres, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Callis adds that he’ll receive a $1.35MM signing bonus, which falls just under $400K shy of his overall slot value at No. 41 overall. Fangraphs (39) and Law (40) ranked Torres most aggressively, praising a fastball that touches 97 mph but both also acknowledging that his current lack of command and his size lead to some risk that he’s bullpen-bound and won’t last as a starter. Fangraphs notes that he’s flashed an above-average to plus changeup in the past, while Law writes that he could eventually have an above-average curve as well. He’d been committed to St. John’s but will enter pro ball instead.
  • Callis also tweets that the Rockies agreed to terms on a $2MM bonus with supplemental pick Grant Lavigne. That comes in $296K above his $1.704MM slot value at No. 42 overall. A high school first baseman out of New Hampshire, Lavigne is listed at 6’4″ and 230 pounds already at the age of 18. Law ranked him 60th and praised his feel to hit and plus raw power, wondering if he’d have gone higher in the draft had he played in warmer weather where he’d face better competition. Callis and colleague Jonathan Mayo write in their report that he’s a better runner than would be expected, though his speed is still a bit below average.
  • The Blue Jays announced that they’ve signed second-rounder Griffin Conine, and Callis adds that he’ll receive the full $1.35MM slot value of his No. 52 overall selection. Somewhat remarkably, Conine ranked 50th on all of the pre-draft rankings listed in the intro above. The son of former Major League All-Star Jeff Conine, Griffin starred as an outfielder at Duke, where he hit .286/.410/.608 with 18 homers, 15 doubles and a pair of triples and walked in 15.5 percent of his 278 plate appearances. Conine had first-round potential (top 10, per Law) heading into the season but struck out at the worst rate of his college career (26.6 percent) and dropped accordingly. He’s limited to the outfield corners and has plenty of raw power and a strong arm but concerns about his hit tool.
]]>
11
Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Select Contract Of George Kontos]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125379 2018-06-19T20:44:28Z 2018-06-19T20:44:28Z The Indians announced Tuesday that they’ve selected the contract of right-handed reliever George Kontos from Triple-A Columbus and placed fellow righty Evan Marshall on the 10-day disabled list due to inflammation in his right elbow.

Kontos, 33, was released by the Pirates in late May and signed a minor league pact with Cleveland a few days later. He’s been in the organization for a bit more than two weeks and has tossed 7 2/3 shutout innings in Columbus, allowing seven hits and no walks with six strikeouts and a 61.9 percent ground-ball rate.

That’s encouraging progress for the veteran Kontos, who posted respectable numbers in the Giants’ bullpen from 2012-17 and was terrific for the Pirates late in 2017 before faltering in 2018. Kontos was unable to recover from a dismal start to the year with the Buccos, as he struggled to a 5.03 ERA in 19 2/3 innings before being designated for assignment and released.

More troubling than his ERA was the fact that Kontos, who entered the season with a career 7.4 K/9 mark, managed just nine strikeouts in those 19 2/3 frames (4.1 K/9). His swinging-strike rate was nearly cut in half (from 16.4 percent to 8.5 percent), and his average fastball velocity dipped from 91 mph last season to 89.6 mph in 2018. Unsurprisingly, Kontos’ lack of whiffs translated into more hits, as he averaged a career-worst 10.5 H/9 and 1.8 HR/9 with the Pirates through the season’s first two months.

The Indians will hope that the heartening results Kontos displayed in Columbus can carry over to the Majors and help to stop the bleeding for a porous relief corps. Indians relievers rank 28th in MLB with a 5.42 ERA, and their 4.71 FIP checks in at 29th. No team’s collective bullpen has averaged more than Cleveland’s 1.63 HR/9.

Certainly, the team has missed Andrew Miller, who has been limited to just 14 1/3 innings this season while dealing with injuries. However, virtually every reliever on the Cleveland staff has taken a step back. Zach McAllister (5.40), Dan Otero (6.12), Nick Goody (6.94) and Tyler Olson (7.27) all have ghastly ERAs thus far after functioning as core pieces of a strong bullpen in 2017.

]]>
18
Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Sign Marc Rzepczynski]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125286 2018-06-18T18:56:20Z 2018-06-18T18:46:43Z The Indians announced that they’ve signed left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski to a minor league contract. The southpaw, who’d recently been released by the Mariners, has been assigned to Triple-A Columbus.

This’ll mark the second stint with the Indians for Rzepczynski, who pitched for Cleveland from 2013-14 before being traded to the Padres in exchange for outfielder Abraham Almonte at the 2014 non-waiver trade deadline. Since that time, the well-traveled lefty has bounced from San Diego to Oakland to D.C. to Seattle.

[Related: Cleveland Indians depth chart]

Rzepczynski, 32, parlayed a solid 2016 season between the A’s and Nationals into a two-year, $11MM contract with the Mariners. And while he performed reasonably well in the first season of that deal, Rzepczynski struggled enormously in 2018 before being cut loose earlier this month. Nicknamed “Scrabble” due to his spellcheck-busting last name, Rzepczynski posted a 4.02 ERA in 37 1/3 innings for Seattle in 2017, though his 25-to-20 K/BB ratio lefty plenty to be desired. This year, he allowed 11 runs (eight earned) on 13 hits and nine walks with 10 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings.

Rzepczynski has long been tough on opposing lefties, though, limiting same-handed opponents to a paltry .225/.295/.303 slash through 852 career plate appearances. For a Cleveland club whose bullpen has been among the worst in the Majors this season, he’ll add a veteran depth option that can at least be utilized in situational matchups. That could be all the more important for the Tribe in the near future, as Cleveland currently has both Andrew Miller and Tyler Olson on the disabled list.

The Mariners remain on the hook for the bulk of the $5.5MM salary that Rzepczynski is earning this year. Cleveland will only owe him the pro-rated league minimum for any time he spends at the big league level. That sum, subsequently, would be subtracted from what the Mariners owe him through season’s end.

]]>
14
Steve Adams <![CDATA[Melky Cabrera Elects Free Agency]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125275 2018-06-18T17:14:45Z 2018-06-18T17:06:31Z The Indians announced Monday that outfielder/designated hitter Melky Cabrera has elected free agency rather than accepting an outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus. He’d been designated for assignment last week and cleared outright waivers. The 33-year-old veteran switch-hitter will now head back to the open market in search of a new opportunity.

Cabrera, who’d signed a minor league deal with Cleveland in late April, had his contract selected in May and totaled 66 plate appearances for the Indians, though he managed just a .207/.243/.293 batting line in that small sample of work.

It should be noted, of course, that Cabrera didn’t have a full Spring Training and only logged 42 plate appearances in Triple-A before joining the big league club. It’s not especially surprising then, to see some rust at the plate after a fairly limited amount of time to ramp up.

Cabrera is only a year removed from providing roughly league-average offense at the big league level. In 666 plate appearances between the White Sox and Royals last season, Cabrera slashed .285/.324/.423 with 17 homers, 30 doubles and a pair of triples — good for a 99 OPS+ and a 98 wRC+. And, from 2014-17, Cabrera racked up 2616 plate appearances between the Blue Jays, White Sox and Royals, hitting a combined .289/.333/.431 in that time (110 OPS+). While he’s no longer a threat on the bases and doesn’t provide much value with the glove, his track record could earn him an opportunity to land on a big league roster with another organization, though he may once again have to earn that opportunity with a Triple-A stint.

]]>
13
Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mike Napoli Planning To Play In 2019]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125207 2018-06-17T18:57:22Z 2018-06-17T18:57:22Z Even after tearing his right ACL and meniscus last April, Mike Napoli isn’t ready to close the book on his career, the veteran slugger tells The Athletic’s Zack Meisel (subscription required).  “I’m going to train like I’m going to play next year,” Napoli said.  “When it’s time to make that decision, I’ll make it, but I still really want to play.  I don’t want to go out like that.  I feel like I can still play.  We’ll see.  We’ll see what opportunities there will be and go from there.”  Even if his chances at a 13th big league season seem remote, it wouldn’t be too surprising for a team to take a flier on Napoli on a minor league deal next spring, assuming he is healthy enough to play.  If a comeback doesn’t materialize, Napoli said his next dream would be to become a Major League manager, and he believes he would be able to start his post-playing career as a coach somewhere in the Indians organization.

Here’s some more from around the league…

  • The Cubs aren’t yet sure what their plans are for the trade deadline, GM Jed Hoyer told Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (subscription link).  “What we may need on July 31 may be totally different than what we know sitting here right now,” Hoyer said.  “I do think that right now the answers are here….Now, that might not be the answer in six weeks. But I think that’s the answer today.”  Chicago already has quite a bit of depth and talent on the roster, plus Yu Darvish and Carl Edwards Jr. will provide reinforcements upon returning from the disabled list, though it would be surprising if the Cubs didn’t make at least one notable addition as they push for another postseason berth.
  • Right-hander Tom Koehler has had a setback in his recovery from an AC strain and isn’t expected back until August, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group (Twitter link) and other reporters.  Koehler signed a one-year, $2MM deal with Los Angeles last winter but has yet to officially pitch for the club after suffering the injury during Spring Training.  He initially hoped to return by the All-Star break but will now have to wait longer to properly don the Dodger blue.
  • The Tigers are considering deploying a six-man rotation, as manager Ron Gardenhire hinted to MLive.com’s Evan Woodbery and other reporters.  With Blaine Hardy pitching well, Detroit wants to find a way to keep him in the rotation when Francisco Liriano makes his expected return from the DL this week, plus the other starters could benefit from the lesser workload.  “We’ve got some guys in there that could probably use extra days, take innings off our load.  We started thinking we could probably do this.  Not saying we’re going to, but we could,” Gardenhire said.
]]>
11
Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Indians Place Carlos Carrasco, Tyler Olson On 10-Day DL]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125181 2018-06-17T14:46:35Z 2018-06-17T14:46:11Z The Indians placed right-hander Carlos Carrasco and left-hander Tyler Olson on the 10-day disabled list today, as per a team press release.  Righties Shane Bieber and Evan Marshall have been recalled from Triple-A to fill the two spots on the 25-man roster, with Bieber starting today’s game against the Twins.

Carrasco is headed to the DL with what the team describes as a “right elbow contusion,” which would be a best-case scenario after Carrasco took a Joe Mauer line drive off his throwing elbow yesterday.  The 99.6mph liner forced Carrasco to leave the game, and he was scheduled to undergo x-rays this morning, though there aren’t yet any details on the results of those tests.

Cleveland has off-days this Thursday and on June 28, so it’s possible Carrasco could only miss one start if his injury isn’t serious and he spends the minimal amount of time on the DL.  The right-hander has been a big contributor to the Tribe’s rotation, posting a 4.24 ERA, 9.5 K/9, and 4.36 K/BB rate over 91 1/3 innings this season.  The ERA is a bit higher than Carrasco is used to over the last three seasons, though ERA predictors (3.40 FIP, 3.43 xFIP, 3.43 SIERA) have a more favorable view of his performance.

Olson, meanwhile, has suffered a left lat strain.  The southpaw famously didn’t allow a single run over 22 innings (20 in the regular season, two in the playoffs) for Cleveland last season, though his 2018 has been much rockier, with a 7.27 ERA over 17 1/3 frames.  Olson is still missing bats to the tune of an 11.9 K/9, however, and while his 4.15 BB/9 is problematic, he has also faced a lot of bad luck in posting that ungainly ERA.  Olson isn’t allowing a lot of hard contact (his .306 xwOBA is well below his .365 wOBA), and he has an unusually low strand rate (just 54.6%) and a very high .378 BABIP.

With Olson out, veteran Oliver Perez is the only left-hander in the Indians pen, as Andrew Miller is still sidelined with knee inflammation.  Miller has been tossing bullpens in recent days, however, and is expected to at least be starting a rehab assignment relatively soon.

]]>
8
Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Designate Melky Cabrera For Assignment]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124969 2018-06-17T14:14:42Z 2018-06-17T14:14:53Z SUNDAY: The team expects to know by Monday whether or not Cabrera will accept an outright assignment, according to the Indians’ official Tribe Insider Twitter news feed.

THURSDAY: The Indians announced Thursday that they’ve activated outfielder Brandon Guyer from the disabled list and cleared a spot for him on the active roster by designating Melky Cabrera for assignment.

Signed to a minor league deal in late April, the 33-year-old Cabrera appeared in 17 games with Cleveland and tallied 66 plate appearances, though he managed just a .207/.243/.293 batting line in that small sample of work.

Cabrera, of course, was operating without the benefit of a full Spring Training during his short time with the Indians. While he did pick up 42 plate appearances in Triple-A before making his debut with the team, it’s perhaps not surprising that he exhibited a fair bit of rust at the plate. To his credit, Cabrera posted a 34.6 percent hard-hit rate, per Fangraphs, and punched out just 10 times in his 66 PAs (15.2 percent).

The switch-hitting Cabrera is only a year removed from providing roughly league-average offense at the big league level. In 666 plate appearances between the White Sox and Royals last season, Cabrera slashed .285/.324/.423 with 17 homers, 30 doubles and a pair of triples — good for a 99 OPS+ and a 98 wRC+.

While he’s long graded out as a sub-par defensive outfielder — never more so than in 2017 — he’s also been a steadily average or better producer at the plate throughout his late 20s and early 30s. From 2014-17, Cabrera racked up 2616 plate appearances between the Blue Jays, White Sox and Royals, hitting a combined .289/.333/.431 in that time (110 OPS+). So while things didn’t work out for the Melk Man in Cleveland, it’s certainly not out of the question that another team could look to pick him on a similarly low-cost investment with the hopes that he can provide some additional offense.

The Indians will have a week to trade Cabrera or run him through outright or release waivers, though a veteran player with his service time will have the option of refusing an outright assignment and again exploring free agency. He’s better-suited for an AL club who can plug him in at DH periodically, though Cabrera could also function as a bench bat and occasional outfielder in the NL.

]]>
45
Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Indians Notes: Carrasco, Zimmer]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125158 2018-06-17T02:31:14Z 2018-06-17T02:29:58Z
  • The Indians are awaiting word on right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who departed his start Saturday after a 99.6 mph line drive off the bat of the Twins’ Joe Mauer struck him in the pitching elbow. Carrasco left after 1 1/3 innings with what the team called a forearm contusion, though manager Terry Francona said afterward (via Joe Noga of cleveland.com) that he’s undergoing tests on his elbow to rule out further damage. “When you look inside a pitcher’s elbow, there’s a lot going on,” Francona said. “Right now, they said it was a contusion. The hope is that’s all it is. We’ll know more by late tonight.” Saturday continued a somewhat down year for Carrasco, who allowed four earned runs to lift his ERA to 4.24 (compared to 3.29 last season), though his secondary numbers paint a far more hopeful picture.
  • The Indians’ Triple-A affiliate in Columbus announced that it has placed center fielder Bradley Zimmer on the DL, retroactive to June 14, with right shoulder discomfort. The injury continues a Murphy’s Law 2018 for Zimmer, who was on the major league DL earlier this season with a rib contusion and then was demoted to Triple-A on June 5 after limping to a .226/.281/.330 line in 114 PAs. He also hasn’t posed a threat in the minors this year, albeit over a mere 28 PAs, with a .148/.179/.259 line and 11 strikeouts against one walk.
  • ]]>
    28
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Injury Notes: Donaldson, Blue Jays, Ravin, May, Goody]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125096 2018-06-16T14:09:17Z 2018-06-16T14:09:17Z Former AL MVP Josh Donaldson is expected to miss “at least a few more days” before getting a chance to return to the Blue Jays’ lineup. A report from Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com indicates that Donaldson still hasn’t felt comfortable running at full speed, or as manager John Gibbons puts it, “he still couldn’t cut it loose,” during a series of running drills on Thursday. The third baseman has been out since May 28th with a sore calf muscle. Coupled with the shoulder injury he dealt with earlier this season, one has to wonder just how much these injury concerns will impact the 32-year-old Donaldson’s free agent stock headed into the 2018-2019 offseason. It’s not as though he’s produced while on the field, either: his .234/.333/.423 slash line (despite a .303 BABIP) is a far cry from his typical production, while his strikeout rate sits at a career-high 27.7%.

    As for the Blue Jays, they’re at least likely to get Marcus Stroman and Steve Pearce back in the near future, as both are currently embarking on rehab assignments in the minor leagues.

    Let’s take a look at some other injury situations around baseball…

    • Nate Rowan, beat reporter for the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate, tweets that Trevor May is headed to the DL with shoulder inflammation. The move is retroactive to June 14th. May’s only recently made his way back from Tommy John surgery, a recovery he wrote about for MLBTR; he was optioned to Triple-A immediately following his activation. There’s no word yet on the severity of the shoulder situation or how long May is expected to be out. In his most recent major league action, May pitched to a 5.27 ERA across 44 relief appearances for the Twins.
    • Another AL Central reliever received unfortunate news today as well. Nick Goody of the Indians visited Dr. James Andrews after feeling soreness during his throwing program. The diagnosis remains elbow hyperextension and posterior elbow inflammation, and though that’s far from the worst-case scenario, he’ll be shut down for at least three weeks after receiving a PRP injection. It’s bad news for an Indians club that has seen its bullpen go from the upper echelon in the league in 2017 to a bottom-dweller in 2018.
    • Braves reliever Josh Ravin (currently pitching for Triple-A Gwinnett) experienced a scare yesterday when he was struck in the face by a line drive. Ravin’s stable, however (at least enough so to tweet), and is set to be further evaluated on Sunday in Atlanta when the swelling goes down. The current diagnosis is five facial fractures and a concussion. Ravin has yet to allow a run in Gwinnett across 18 innings, during which time he’s struck out 30 batters and walked nine.
    ]]>
    6
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Amateur Draft Signings: 6/14/18]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125006 2018-06-15T03:45:11Z 2018-06-15T03:45:03Z Here are the day’s deals of note from the top few rounds of the draft (rankings referenced are courtesy of Baseball AmericaMLB.comFangraphs and ESPN’s Keith Law — with the scouting reports from MLB and Fangraphs both coming free to the general public) …

    • Athletics second-round pick Jeremy Eierman will receive a $1,232,000 bonus, per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). That’s well over the $872,400 slot value that came with the 70th pick. The Missouri State produce drew big grades from BA (#26) and MLB.com (#29) as the top collegiate shortstop, with both a history of productivity and an intriguing power/speed offensive profile for a player who could potentially stick at shortstop. Analysts also note that an offensive downturn in the just-completed season introduced new questions about his long-term outlook.
    • The Cubs are in agreement with second-round pick Brennen Davis on a $1.1MM bonus, Callis reports on Twitter. That checks in just north of the 62nd pick’s $1,060,900 allocation. Davis ranked 81st on the Fangraphs board, with physical tools and projection driving the outfielder’s draft standing. He had been committed to the University of Miami.

    Earlier Updates

    • The Padres will pay out $2.6MM to land supplemental first-round choice Xavier Edwards, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis (Twitter link). A consensus first-round talent, Edwards went 38th overall ($1,878,300 allocation) and required a well-over-slot bonus to give up his commitment to Vanderbilt. Fangraphs was the highest outlet on the Florida high-schooler, ranking him 17th among all eligible players based upon his outstanding speed, quality bat, and promising outlook as an up-the-middle defender.
    • The Rays have deals in place with compensation selection Nick Schnell and competitive balance Round B choice Tanner Dodson, according to reports from Callis (Twitter links) and Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (also on Twitter). Schnell will receive $2.3MM; the high-school outfielder was chosen with the 32nd overall pick, which comes with a $2,171,700 slot value. He’s credited with a quality tool set and what MLB.com calls an “extremely projectable frame.” Tampa Bay will save some money on Dodson, whose $997,500 bonus falls shy of the $1,228,000 slot value at #71. He’s valued most as a power pitcher but is also said to have legitimate talent as a switch-hitting outfielder, which could give the Rays another multi-functional prospect to work with.
    • Second-round choice Nick Sandlin will go to the Indians for $750K, Callis tweets, which will leave some savings against the $939,700 pick allocation. With the signing, the Cleveland organization will add a highly effective collegiate hurler who is known less for his pure stuff than for his wide pitch mix and use of varied arm angles. Sandlin cracked the top 100 list of the Fangraphs team and landed within the top 200 draft prospects as graded by Baseball America and MLB.com. It certainly seems he’ll be an interesting player to follow as a professional.
    ]]>
    5
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Free Agent Stock Watch: Michael Brantley]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124918 2018-06-13T20:03:24Z 2018-06-13T20:01:41Z When the 2017 campaign came to a close, it was an open question whether the Indians should and would exercise a $12MM club option over outfielder Michael Brantley. The alternative — which MLBTR poll respondents narrowly preferred — was to send him onto free agency with a $1MM buyout.

    As it turned out, of course, Cleveland elected to roll the dice on Brantley, betting that he’d have his first healthy season since 2015 — when he was a high-end offensive performer. Significant shoulder and ankle problems conspired to limit Brantley to just 101 total games over the ensuing two seasons. Though he hit well in 2017, turning in a .299/.357/.444 with nine home runs in 375 plate appearances, that wasn’t near the top-level output he had turned in previously. All said, it was open to question just what Brantley would contribute in 2018

    For the budget-conscious contenders, it wasn’t an easy call, particularly with a variety of potential buy-low targets available in free agency and other needs clamoring for attention. While the overall roster performance hasn’t been quite to expectations in 2018, though, the decision to hang onto Brantley has paid off handsomely.

    Through 245 plate appearances on the year, Brantley carries a .316/.359/.529 slash with 11 home runs. He has returned to striking out in less than ten percent of his plate appearances. And while he isn’t walking as much as he did in 2015, with a slightly below-average 6.1% rate, Brantley is producing more power (.213 isolated slugging) than he ever has in a full season. Better still, Statcast thinks there’s more in the tank, as it credits him with a .410 xwOBA that significantly exceeds the .374 wOBA mark that has resulted.

    Still, there are some questions facing Brantley away from the plate. Typically a plus runner, he has rated as a negative thus far in 2018 under Fangraphs’ BsR measure. More worrisome, perhaps, is the slippage in his defensive metrics. Most of his career has been spent in range of average in left field, but Brantley has been panned by both DRS (-8) and UZR (-5.6) in 2018.

    In regard to the baserunning and glovework, a full-season sample or finer analysis could change the picture. Still, though, those aren’t the most promising developments for a player who is already 31 years of age and has fought through major health concerns of late. Brantley has also typically carried fairly significant platoon splits over his career, though he has generally produced palatable numbers against southpaws.

    If Brantley can maintain his current offensive trajectory, and perhaps exhibit reasonable form in the other areas of play as well, then he’ll have quite an interesting free-agent case. His premium plate discipline and contact skills ought to play well in the market — former teammate Carlos Santana got $20MM annually last winter despite being limited to first base defensively — though age will certainly come into play.

    Frankly, there are no shortage of interest market markers to consider here. On the lower end, the agreement that Denard Span inked with the Giants covered his age-32 through age-34 campaigns. Like Brantley, he was coming off of some injury-marred campaigns with questions about how he’d bounce back. Melky Cabrera was more youthful but not as accomplished as Brantley when he signed his three-year, $42MM pact with the White Sox. The same is true of Jay Bruce, who was born months apart from Brantley but reached the market one year sooner, securing $39MM over three seasons.

    There’s certainly a ready argument that Brantley ought to out-perform those contracts, particularly if teams still view him as a plausible corner outfielder for most or all of the contractual term. Players of a similarly advanced age have secured five-year guarantees, with recent examples including Lorenzo Cain ($80MM), Dexter Fowler ($82.5MM), and Ian Desmond ($70MM). In each of those cases, though, the length of the deal was perhaps less concerning since the players involved were considered capable of playing center field (as well as the infield, in Desmond’s case), even if Brantley still carries a better offensive profile.

    Barring an unreal run to finish the year, Brantley will likely struggle to command a fifth year, particularly as we’ve generally seen a movement toward shorter contracts in free agency. Even with the injury history, though, might he be a strong candidate for a fourth year? Curtis Granderson got to four years, at a $15MM rate, at a more advanced age. He was coming off of an injury-shortened season, though he was also an established 40-homer bat at a time when that meant more than it does today. Alex Gordon landed $72MM on a four-year term, but didn’t face the kinds of long-term health questions that Brantley does. Nick Swisher was 32 years old when he signed for four years and $56MM after a run as a steadier, but lower-ceiling hitter than Brantley. Of course, those four-year contracts are also somewhat out of date. Josh Reddick recently secured four years and $52MM. But he was entering his age-30 campaign.

    Taken together, that’s quite a broad range. Given his return to form thus far, one could reasonably craft an argument that Brantley ought to rate in the Granderson-Gordon range as a high-quality, veteran corner bat. Then again, teams will need to examine and weigh his long-term medical outlook quite closely, as Brantley has dealt with quite a bit more than the sort of acute injuries that take place in the course of playing baseball. In that view, perhaps the three-year arrangements provide a better model, though even in that event Brantley is on track to staking a claim to a significant AAV.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    ]]>
    21
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Release Matt Belisle]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124805 2018-06-12T12:43:52Z 2018-06-12T12:43:52Z The Indians’ top affiliate has announced that righty Matt Belisle was given his unconditional release. He had been pitching with the Columbus Clippers since signing a minors deal in mid-May.

    Belisle, who just turned 38, had opened the season in the MLB pen for the Indians after turning in a solid overall effort last year with the Twins. He was designated for assignment just over a month into the season, though, after surrendering six earned runs on nine hits in 10 1/3 innings.

    In some regards, Belisle has produced similar results in an identical number of frames since reporting to Triple-A. While he has surrendered five earned on ten hits, though, the underlying numbers are much more promising. After managing only four strikeouts during his time in the majors this year, Belisle has recorded an 11:1 K/BB mix for Columbus.

    It is not immediately clear whether Belisle had an opt-out opportunity or otherwise requested his release. Based only upon his recent track record and showing, however, it seems reasonable to guess he’ll land in a spot where he’ll have a clear chance at returning to the majors.

    ]]>
    3
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Agree To Over-Slot Deal With Sixth-Rounder]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124763 2018-06-12T03:44:05Z 2018-06-12T03:42:59Z
  • In a fairly sizable over-slot signing, FanRag’s Jon Heyman tweets the Indians agreed to a $900K bonus with sixth-rounder Raynel Delgado, whose No. 193 overall selection came with a value of $235,600. The switch-hitting prep infielder out of Florida has impressed scouts with his bat speed and hit tool from both sides of the dish, but questions about his defense and a commitment to Florida International pushed him down the board a bit. BA ranked him 83rd, touting the potential for plus power from both sides of the dish. Callis and Mayo peg him as a potential offensive-minded second or third baseman down the line.
  • ]]>
    15
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Promote Francisco Mejia]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124783 2018-06-11T22:34:21Z 2018-06-11T21:18:39Z The Indians have promoted top prospect Francisco Mejia, per a club announcement. Right-hander Evan Marshall was optioned to create active roster space.

    Mejia, who’s known most for his bat, was announced as a catcher/outfielder. It’s still unknown just how the team will deploy him in the mid and long-term, but he’ll fill in for backup catcher Roberto Perez for the meantime. Though the team says Perez is not going on the DL — at least, not yet — he is expected to miss some time after being struck by a pitch in the hand yesterday.

    Mejia, who made a brief MLB cameo last year, entered the season as a consensus top-twenty prospect leaguewide, with many assuming he would hit his way into the MLB mix sooner than later. Defensively, though, there are far greater questions. Thus far in 2018, he has split his time about evenly behind the plate and in the grass.

    While he has worked to find a defensive home, Mejia hasn’t produced to his typical levels at the plate. In 214 plate appearances at the highest level of the minors, he owns a .214/.271/.33 slash. That said, as the team notes in its release, the switch-hitting Mejia has been on a hot streak of late. And he came into the season with a track record and reputation as a polished hitter from both sides of the plate.

    While the Cleveland organization gets a sense for what kind of contribution it can expect from Mejia now and in the future, the 22-year-old will accrue MLB service time. He already had 31 days from 2017, and can earn as many as 112 from this point through the end of the current season, so he could profile as a future Super Two qualifier if he stays up for good.

    Mejia made the news earlier this season when he brought a lawsuit seeking to abrogate his contractual relationship with an entity called Big League Advance. The litigation will determine whether Mejia is forced to pay a portion of his ongoing MLB earnings.

    ]]>
    16
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Release Richie Shaffer]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124424 2018-06-08T13:27:15Z 2018-06-08T13:26:09Z The Indians announced that they’ve released corner infielder Richie Shaffer from their Triple-A affiliate in Columbus. The 27-year-old former first-round pick had been in his second season with the organization.

    Selected 25th overall by the Rays back in 2012, Shaffer logged fairly pedestrian numbers in the low minors before breaking out with a big 2015 in which he batted .267/.357/.539 in 108 games between Double-A and Triple-A as a 24-year-old. Tampa Bay brought him to the Majors late that season, but he managed just a .213/.310/.410 slash with five homers in 142 plate appearances with the Rays from 2015-16. The Rays traded Shaffer and Taylor Motter to the Mariners in exchange for three minor league pitchers (including Andrew Kittredge) that offseason, and he bounced around the waiver wire before settling in with Cleveland prior to the 2017 campaign.

    Shaffer notched an .802 OPS with 30 homers for Cleveland’s top affiliate in 2017, but he’s off to an ugly start in 2018, having batted .164/.216/.310 through 125 PAs in his second season with Columbus. He’s primarily been a third baseman in the minors but also has significant experience at first base and in both corner outfield slots.

    ]]>
    9
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Andrew Miller Resumes Throwing From Mound]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124271 2018-06-06T16:31:45Z 2018-06-06T13:18:21Z
  • Indians lefty Andrew Miller seems to be making progress from the right knee problems that sent him to the DL. Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, via Twitter, Miller will do some mound work today that will help with an assessment as to whether he needs a rehab stint. That seems generally to be a positive sign given the uncertainty when Miller was sidelined. Inflammation is hardly the most ominous diagnosis, to be sure, but in this case Miller has dealt with repeat problems in the same joint. He has also been unusually human on the mound this year, allowing seven earned runs and issuing an uncharacteristic ten walks over his 14 1/3 innings.
  • ]]>
    24
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Option Bradley Zimmer, Activate Lonnie Chisenhall]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124237 2018-06-05T21:49:02Z 2018-06-05T21:49:02Z The Indians announced on Tuesday that they’ve activated outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall from the 10-day disabled list and opened a roster spot by optioning struggling center fielder Bradley Zimmer to Triple-A Columbus.

    [Related: Updated Cleveland Indians depth chart]

    Zimmer, 25, has turned in quality contributions on the bases and in the outfield this season, but he’s had a dreadful time at the plate, batting just .226/.281/.330 with a pair of homers in 114 trips to the plate. Those struggles are largely a continuation of a poor 2017 second half for the former first-rounder. Zimmer debuted and hit .285/.339/.450 prior to the All-Star break last season before fading badly down the stretch with a .196/.275/.318 line to close out the season. Zimmer struck out at a 33.5 percent clip in the second half last season, and he’s posted an even more alarming 38.6 percent strikeout rate in 2018.

    As for the 29-year-old Chisenhall, he’ll return from a calf strain that has held him out of action since landing on the disabled list way back on April 8. He’s made just 21 plate appearances this season in what is likely the most important campaign of his big league career. Chisenhall, who hit .288/.360/.521 in 270 PAs last season, is set to hit free agency for the first time following the 2018 season. While durability appears to be a legitimate concern for him, he’s been productive at the plate in three of the past four seasons and will look to rebuild his stock as best he can in the four months between now and season’s end.

    ]]>
    14
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Indians Sign George Kontos]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123975 2018-06-05T02:55:09Z 2018-06-03T15:24:46Z The Indians have signed reliever George Kontos to a minor league contract, according to an announcement from the team.

    Kontos debuted in the majors with the Yankees in 2011 and has since pitched for the Giants and Pirates. The Bucs released the 32-year-old this week after he opened the season with 18 2/3 innings of 5.03 ERA ball. Kontos has generally been successful in the majors, however, as he carries a 3.11 ERA with 7.25 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 43.3 percent groundball rate over 350 innings. Along the way, the righty has held same-handed hitters to a a paltry .228/.270/.374 line and limited lefties to a .236/.325/.381 mark.

    Kontos seemingly stands a chance of returning to the bigs in Cleveland, whose bullpen has been a disaster this year. Indians relievers rank dead last in ERA (5.92) and third from the bottom in fWAR (minus-0.6). The club has been on the lookout for established relievers as a result, and already signed Oliver Perez this weekend before adding Kontos.

    ]]>
    9
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Indians Sign Oliver Perez, Designate Jeff Beliveau]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123867 2018-06-02T17:49:36Z 2018-06-02T17:32:50Z The Indians search for bullpen help continues, as Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports that the club has signed lefty Oliver Perez to a major league deal. The club has designated fellow left-hander Jeff Beliveau for assignment in a corresponding move.

    The Yankees released Perez from his minors contract just yesterday; as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd pointed out at that time, he’d received a June 1st opt-out date in his contract with the club due to his status as an Article XX(B) free agent. Perez struck out 10.5 batters per nine innings while walking 3.9 across the past two seasons with the Washington Nationals, and the Indians will hope he can serve as another reliable lefty reliever behind Tyler Olson while former ALCS MVP Andrew Miller rehabs a knee issue.

    As Bastian aptly pointed out, Perez will end up being the 15th relief pitcher used by the Indians this season, whereas they only used 13 relievers for the entirety of 2017 (position players and starters coming out of the bullpen excluded). Those relievers have combined to post an ERA north of 6, good for the worst mark in the majors. While it would be silly to think that Perez can have a significant impact on that figure, he’s got a long resume of effective performance against same-handed hitters. On the whole, he’s limited those lefties to a .228/.318/.365.

    In any case, that makes him an upgrade over Beliveau, who’s at times seemed incapable of getting any outs at all. Beliveau’s got a gargantuan ERA of 11.57 this season, and remarkably, his FIP suggests he’s been lucky to have posted even that figure. Of course, this all comes in a 4 2/3 inning sample size, but Indians fans will surely be glad to see Beliveau replaced in the bullpen regardless.

     

    ]]>
    24
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Danny Salazar]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123714 2018-06-01T01:17:37Z 2018-06-01T01:17:37Z The Indians are still searching for answers on Danny Salazar’s ailing right shoulder, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Salazar, 28, has been out all season due to a right shoulder impingement that is causing tendinitis, and he’s currently not throwing after receiving a pair of injections in his shoulder this month. He will be re-evaluated by team medical officials in the coming days.

    FanRag’s Jon Heyman, though, paints an even more ominous picture when it comes to Salazar, reporting in this week’s notes column that the Indians don’t expect Salazar to return until September, if he returns at all this season. For a club that has seen considerable struggles both at the fifth spot in the rotation and in the bullpen, that’s a most unwelcome timeline for a clearly talented arm that, if healthy, would give Cleveland one of the top rotations in all of baseball.

    Fans of the team, clearly, will hope that there’s still some possibility of a more optimistic prognosis. The recent track record, though, does not inspire much confidence. Shoulder troubles slowed Salazar in 2017 as well, when the right-hander was limited to just 103 innings. More generally, durability concerns have plagued him throughout his MLB tenure, as he’s topped 25 appearances and 140 innings in just one season — his 185-inning 2015 campaign.

    If Salazar is indeed out of the picture for the foreseeable future, the Indians will  have to determine whether Shane Bieber or Adam Plutko will occupy the fifth spot in the rotation behind Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger now that Josh Tomlin has been dropped to the bullpen. They’ll also need to plan for ways in which they can upgrade their bullpen without relying on the possibility of a healthy Salazar returning to supplement a group that has struggled through multiple DL stints to Andrew Miller. Clearly, the team has missed the reliable innings it got last year from setup men Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith (though Shaw has struggled considerably in his own right in his first season with the Rockies).

    A prolonged absence for Salazar would not only be a blow to the Indians but would also potentially impact his future standing with the organization. Salazar entered the 2018 season with three years, 162 days of Major League service time and will be arbitration-eligible for the third time as a Super Two player this offseason. He’s earning $5MM this year and would likely command that same figure in arbitration were he to miss the whole year, while he’d probably receive a small bump if he returns to contribute in any capacity this September. While that’s hardly an exorbitant amount to pay for a pitcher of Salazar’s considerable upside, the Indians don’t generally have ample cash reserves to work with and could end up facing a tough call.

    ]]>
    13
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Angels Claim Oliver Drake]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123754 2018-05-31T22:23:53Z 2018-05-31T21:53:51Z The Angels have claimed reliever Oliver Drake off waivers from the Indians, per a club announcement. He had been designated recently by the Cleveland organization.

    Meanwhile, the Halos also announced that southpaw Ian Krol cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A. It is not yet clear if he accepted the assignment to the club’s top affiliate.

    The 31-year-old Drake has had a rough go of things this year. He opened the season with the Brewers and then landed with the Indians. Despite recording 19 strikeouts and a 46.0% groundball rate in his 17 frames, he has coughed up 15 earned runs on 21 hits and nine walks on the year.

    For the Halos, Drake will provide a fresh arm that still holds its share of intrigue. He has, after all, managed a 13.1% swinging-strike rate this season and has surely been unlucky to carry only a 51.6% strand rate and .412 batting average on balls put in play against him. Indeed, Statcast credits him with an appealing .311 xwOBA that significantly lags the actual .353 wOBA that has been produced by opposing hitters.

    ]]>
    22
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Promote Shane Bieber]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123546 2018-05-31T21:03:06Z 2018-05-31T21:01:33Z MAY 31: The move is official. Righty Ben Taylor was optioned to open an active roster spot, while fellow righty Nick Goody was moved from the 10-day to the 60-day DL for a 40-man opening.

    MAY 28: The Indians are set to promote top pitching prospect Shane Bieber for his first MLB action, skipper Terry Francona announced (via Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal, on Twitter). Bieber is slated to receive a start on Thursday, which is also his 23rd birthday.For the time being, it’s expected only to be a spot start.

    Since he was taken in the fourth-round of the 2016 draft out of UCSB, Bieber has zipped up the ladder in the Cleveland farm system.In 2017, his first full season as a pro, Bieber threw 173 1/3 innings of 2.86 ERA ball with a shiny 162:10 K/BB ratio.

    The results have been even better thus far in 2018. In ten starts — five apiece between Double-A and Triple-A — he has allowed just eight earned runs on 43 hits over 65 1/3 innings, while racking up a ridiculous mix of 61 strikeouts against just three free passes.

    Prospect evaluators have increasingly taken notice of Bieber’s sustained output. MLB.com just bumped him onto its top-100 list, crediting him with four useful pitches that he (obviously) commands with aplomb. Clearly, there’s some question whether Bieber’s pure stuff is all that compelling, but it seems his off-the-charts ability to spot the ball will likely make him a useful major-league hurler.

    The Indians obviously believe that Bieber is ready now to begin contributing at the game’s highest level. Though he’s only scheduled to get the ball once before being demoted, the move will put Bieber on the 40-man roster. He could well be the top available arm if a future need arises, whether that’s in the rotation or a bullpen unit that has struggled mightily thus far.

    ]]>
    53
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Acquire Myles Jaye From Twins]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123598 2018-05-30T02:00:20Z 2018-05-30T02:00:20Z
  • The Indians announced that they’ve acquired right-hander Myles Jaye from the Twins in exchange for cash. He’ll join the rotation for Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate in Columbus, per the announcement. The 26-year-old Jaye made his MLB debut with the Tigers last season but was rocked for 17 earned runs on 18 hits and 10 walks in 12 2/3 innings at the MLB level. Jaye, a former 17th-round pick (Blue Jays, 2010), has a solid track record of preventing runs at the Triple-A level (3.81 ERA, 141 2/3 innings). He’s off to a decent start in Triple-A this year, having pitched to a 4.25 ERA in 42 1/3 frames — albeit with a middling 19-to-15 K/BB ratio in that time. With Adam Plutko and Shane Bieber emerging as rotation options at the MLB level, the addition of Jaye will give the Cleveland organization some additional depth.
  • ]]>
    11
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Select Jeff Beliveau, Option Adam Plutko]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123595 2018-05-29T20:47:23Z 2018-05-29T20:47:23Z The Indians announced Tuesday that they’ve selected the contract of left-handed reliever Jeff Beliveau from Triple-A Columbus and optioned right-hander Adam Plutko to Columbus in his place. Cleveland’s 40-man roster is now full.

    Beliveau, 31, will return to the Indians for a second stint this season. He allowed four runs on five hits and four walks with two strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings for Cleveland earlier this season before being designated for assignment, outrighted, and accepting an assignment to Triple-A. He’s notched a 22-to-4 K/BB ratio in 15 1/3 innings with Columbus this season.

    [Related: Updated Cleveland Indians depth chart]

    The 26-year-old Plutko pitched quite well in his first two starts of the season and flirted with a no-hitter against the Cubs on May 23, though the White Sox knocked him around for five runs in his most recent start. With prospect Shane Bieber stepping up for a spot start on Thursday this week, the Indians won’t need a fifth starter for the foreseeable future, so Plutko can head back to Triple-A to work on regular rest before potentially returning at some point in June.

    It’s possible, though, that Bieber steps up and seizes the fifth spot in the rotation that was vacated earlier this month when Cleveland shifted Josh Tomlin to the bullpen. It’ll likely be a performance-based decision, but both right-handers seem likely to play significant roles on Cleveland’s pitching staff through season’s end. Each has been outstanding in the minors thus far, and the Indians have seen their bullpen struggle while receiving little from the fifth spot in their rotation.

    ]]>
    6
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Indians Place Andrew Miller On 10-Day DL]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123303 2018-05-26T20:25:08Z 2018-05-26T20:12:34Z According to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, Indians lefty Andrew Miller is headed back to the DL with right knee inflammation. It’s the same knee issue that caused him problems last year, which is surely incredibly disheartening news to a Cleveland ballclub whose bullpen situation just seems to keep getting worse. For the time being, the Indians have recalled right-hander Evan Marshall from Triple-A Columbus.

    A separate tweet from Bastian reveals that the knee has been an underlying issue “the entire time” this season, according to manager Terry Francona. That could be considered good news in the sense that it helps explain Miller’s uncharacteristic struggles this season (he’s pitched to a 4.40 ERA this season, which would be his career high as a full-time reliever). However, it’s obviously deeply concerning news considering the Tribe’s desperate need for Miller to put his health issues behind him and help shore up a bullpen with a 6.23 ERA on the season.

    Though Miller’s 14.44 K/9 is right in line with his marks in recent years, it’s his 6.28 BB/9 that stands out as an alarming red flag. That’s more than double his full-season mark in any of the past four years. There’s currently no timetable for his return, but it seems likely that the Indians will proceed with extreme caution considering Miller’s value to the club in the postseason. Despite having a sub-.500 record, Cleveland is currently leading the AL Central and is considered a strong favorite to win the division for the third consecutive year.

    ]]>
    16
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Indians Designate Oliver Drake, Recall Ben Taylor]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123295 2018-05-26T19:09:19Z 2018-05-26T18:51:40Z Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal tweets that the Indians have designated right-handed reliever Oliver Drake for assignment and recalled fellow righty Ben Taylor from Triple-A to take his roster spot. Drake was charged with six earned runs in last night’s game against the Astros.

    It’s the latest turn in the revolving door that’s been the Indians’ bullpen this season as they desperately search for lightning in a bottle to stabilize their relief corps. The Tribe’s bullpen currently ranks dead last in baseball with a 6.23 ERA, and have suffered many a loss at the hands of relievers who simply can’t seem to preserve leads for their stellar starting rotation. Last night’s loss may have been one of the most disheartening yet, as Indians fans watched Corey Kluber shut out Houston over 6 1/3 strong innings only to groan later as a five different relievers combined to allow four earned runs in the eighth inning and seven more in the ninth.

    For Drake’s part in that nightmare, he allowed base hits to five Astros and beaned one more. All six of those players crossed the plate, and Drake managed to record just two outs. He’d been generally good for the Indians in three appearances prior to that, striking out four batters in 3 2/3 innings after being acquired from the Orioles. It’s worth noting that in his four appearances as an Indian, he owns a 12.46 ERA but a 2.65 FIP (though the microscopic sample size probably renders those numbers somewhat pointless).

    As for Taylor, he’ll be up for his second stint with the Indians, having allowed just a single earned run in 3 1/3 innings so far this season while striking out five of the 13 hitters he faced. Prior to this season, Taylor had spent his entire career in the Red Sox organization. On the whole, he owns a 4.79 ERA and 4.26 FIP for his career across 20 2/3 innings.

     

    ]]>
    11
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 5/24/18]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123147 2018-05-24T16:34:07Z 2018-05-24T16:34:07Z We’ll use this post to track the day’s minor moves:

    • The Indians have added righty Mitch Talbot on a minors deal, per MLBTR’s Steve Adams (via Twitter). He’ll join the rotation at Triple-A Columbus, taking the place of the recently promoted Adam Plutko. Talbot last appeared in the majors with the Indians way back in 2011 and had not been with an MLB organization since 2013. In the interim, he has pitched in the independent leagues and KBO. Last year, Talbot spun 110 innings of 3.03 ERA ball with 8.8 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 for the Sugar Land Skeeters.
    ]]>
    5
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Move Josh Tomlin To Bullpen]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122903 2018-05-21T14:21:19Z 2018-05-21T14:21:19Z The Indians are shifting fifth starter Josh Tomlin to the bullpen in favor of rookie right-hander Adam Plutko, manager Terry Francona revealed last night (link via Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer). Plutko, 26, will be recalled later this week to make what will be his second Major League start. Hoynes notes that Plutko “would appear to be the Tribe’s fifth starter for the time being.”

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

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

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

    [Related: Cleveland Indians depth chart]

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

    ]]>
    24
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Lonnie Chisenhall To Begin Rehab Assignment]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122897 2018-05-21T04:57:07Z 2018-05-21T04:55:54Z
  • Lonnie Chisenhall is slated to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Monday, Indians manager Terry Francona told media (including Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer).  Chisenhall will only play every other day initially, Francona said, as the outfielder slowly ramps up after missing over six weeks with a strained calf.  It isn’t clear how long it will be before Chisenhall is ready to return to the Tribe’s roster, though the club is in dire need of some help in right and center field.
  • ]]>
    21
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Indians Select Melky Cabrera, Designate Alexi Ogando]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122855 2018-05-21T17:01:16Z 2018-05-20T21:36:25Z 4:36pm: The Indians have indeed optioned Marshall, Hoynes reports. Additionally, the club has designated reliever Alexi Ogando for assignment. Ogando signed a minor league accord with the Indians during the offseason and ended up cracking their roster earlier this month. However, the 34-year-old only made one appearance – a disastrous May 4 outing against the Yankees in which he pitched one frame and allowed two earned runs on two hits and three walks. Ogando took the loss in that game.

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

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

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

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

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

    ]]>
    30
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Re-Sign Matt Belisle]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122507 2018-05-16T14:17:29Z 2018-05-16T14:17:29Z The Indians have announced that righty Matt Belisle is re-joining the organization on a minor-league deal. He’ll begin his tenure at Triple-A.

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

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

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

    ]]>
    6
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Place Bradley Zimmer On DL, Select Neil Ramirez]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122430 2018-05-15T20:01:50Z 2018-05-15T19:53:57Z The Indians announced today that they’ve placed outfielder Bradley Zimmer on the 10-day DL. He’ll be replaced on the active roster by righty Neil Ramirez, whose contract was selected. Clearing a 40-man spot was accomplished by shifting lefty Ryan Merritt to the 60-day DL.

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

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

    ]]>
    5
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Face Several Roster Needs]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122389 2018-05-15T18:45:54Z 2018-05-15T15:13:37Z
  • While the Indians are continuing to lead an uninspiring AL Central division, that doesn’t mean it has been all sunbeams in Cleveland. The organization surely anticipated more than a .500 start through forty games after topping one hundred wins in 2017. But the results largely reflect what has to this point been a fairly middling performance from the roster overall. Zack Meisel of The Athletic (subscription link) takes a look at the big picture, diagnosing the bullpen as one key overarching concern. It’s tough to disagree with that fact given the putrid overall performance from the Indians’ relief unit to date. Adding some arms seems a mid-season given, but Meisel also notes that the club has a similar issue on the position-player side, with a group of top-end stars that has not been supported to this point by the reserves. All said, there seem to be quite a few areas ripe for improvement over the summer, which is obviously not preferable but does leave the club with many potential avenues to seek value.
  • ]]>
    14
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Undrafted Free Agents, Urshela, Aledmys]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122121 2018-05-12T19:29:00Z 2018-05-12T19:29:00Z J.J. Cooper of Baseball America recently answered a question from a Twitter fan about undrafted free agents in MLB. It turns out that there were eight undrafted free agents on MLB rosters at the start of the year, and all eight of them were right-handed pitchers. Unlike football, where there are plenty of UDFA success stories, it’s exceedingly rare for a UDFA to produce significantly at the MLB level. Some outliers include Matt Shoemaker, Miguel Gonzalez, Darren O’Day and Kirby Yates. Of the UDFA’s currently in the majors on opening day, Tigers reliever Joe Jimenez (23 years old) and Rays pitcher Andrew Kittredge (28) are the only players below the age of 30. There are a few more fun facts in Cooper’s piece, making it well worth a full read.

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

    • The Blue Jays announced earlier today that they’ve activated infielder Gio Urshela and optioned outfielder Dalton Pompey to Triple-A Buffalo. Urshela, 26, was recently acquired for cash (or a player to be named later) after the Indians designated him for assignment earlier this month; he’d been on the DL since the start of the season. While acclaimed as somewhat of a defensive wizard, Urshela carries an anemic bat and has posted a wRC+ of just 57 throughout the course of his major-league career.
    • In other Blue Jays news, shortstop Aledmys Diaz has begun throwing, says Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. He’s expected to begin hitting later this week. Diaz left last Sunday’s game after spraining his ankle, but it doesn’t appear as though the injury will keep him sidelined for much longer than the ten-day minimum at this point. Diaz was acquired from the Cardinals this offseason in exchange for outfielder J.B. Woodman; the shortstop has hit .216/.273/.431 so far with his new club.
    ]]>
    3
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Injury Notes: Naquin, Graveman, Buchter, Hendriks, Vielma, Alvarez,]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122111 2018-05-12T23:22:32Z 2018-05-12T17:23:04Z The Indians have placed outfielder Tyler Naquin on the DL with a left hamstring strain, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com writes. Naquin limped into second during yesterday’s game while running out a double, and stayed in the game through the remainder of the inning. He was taken out subsequently, though, and sent to get an MRI. There’s no word yet on the severity of Naquin’s injury, nor how long he’ll be out. It’s surely a disappointing development for the Indians; Naquin’s hitting .333/.367/.453 on the year, albeit with an unsustainable .442 BABIP. In a related move, the Indians activated reliever Tyler Olson from the paternity list for today’s game.

    Other injury notes from around the league…

    • Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle provided some injury updates on Athletics players with a pair of tweets today. Right-hander Kendall Graveman is “limping around” after taking a liner off his shin last night. While the situation is reportedly better than expected, the A’s aren’t yet certain whether they’ll need to push back Graveman’s next side session. Meanwhile, Ryan Buchter (shoulder strain) will begin a throwing program next week, and Liam Hendriks (groin strain) is scheduled to throw off a mound today.
    • In Orioles injury news, infielder Engelb Vielma is set to have surgery on his knee (according to Rich Dubroff of PressBoxonline.com). He sustained the injury after tripping over a mound while running down a fly ball in foul ground during a minors game, and while it’s not thought to be season-ending, some in the Orioles organization have loudly voiced their frustrations about the circumstances surrounding the injury. Meanwhile, Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun tweets that Pedro Alvarez’ hamstring tightness will hold him out of today’s lineup, though there’s still hope that he could be called upon to hit if needed.
    ]]>
    6
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Blue Jays Acquire Gio Urshela]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121939 2018-05-09T20:08:54Z 2018-05-09T20:02:23Z The Blue Jays have acquired third baseman Gio Urshela from the Indians, per a club announcement. Cash considerations or a player to be named later will go to Cleveland in return.

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

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

    ]]>
    51
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Salazar Shut Down For A Week Following PRP Injection]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121892 2018-05-09T02:10:03Z 2018-05-09T02:10:03Z
  • Indians right-hander Danny Salazar will  be shut down for at least the next week after receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection in his ailing right shoulder (link via Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer). Salazar was moved to the 60-day disabled list last week and has yet to pitch in the Majors this season due to an impingement in that right shoulder. At this point, there’s clear indication as to when the Indians can plausibly expect him to return to the roster. Mike Clevinger has stepped up and filled Salazar’s rotation spot quite nicely, though the fifth spot in the Cleveland rotation continues to be an issue.
  • ]]>
    16
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Outright Jeff Beliveau; Matt Belisle Elects Free Agency]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121847 2018-05-08T18:05:44Z 2018-05-08T18:05:44Z The Indians have announced the resolutions for two pitchers who were recently designated for assignment. Lefty Jeff Beliveau will remain in the organization after being outrighted, while right-hander Matt Belisle has chosen free agency after he cleared waivers.

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

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

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

    ]]>
    5
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Andrew Miller Could Return On Friday]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121736 2018-05-07T00:38:05Z 2018-05-07T00:36:04Z
  • Andrew Miller is on track to return from the disabled list on Friday, Indians manager Terry Francona told MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian and other reporters, provided that Miller gets through another scheduled throwing session on Tuesday without any problems.  Miller already threw one bullpen on Saturday without any ill effects from the hamstring strain that sent him to the DL back on April 26.  Cleveland has sorely missed Miller, as the Tribe’s relievers entered play today with the third-worst bullpen ERA in the game, even before an ugly late-game collapse against the Yankees.
  • ]]>
    16
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[AL Central Notes: Farquhar, Romero, Goody, Soler]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121611 2018-05-05T15:06:45Z 2018-05-05T15:00:16Z Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports shares details of the long road ahead for White Sox reliever Danny Farquhar after the right-hander suffered a recent brain aneurysm. The incident occurred in the Sox dugout just under two weeks ago following an outing against Houston, and caused Farquhar to be hospitalized in what was a scary few hours. As Passan notes, 40% of people who suffer a brain aneurysm don’t survive them, while half of those who survive end up with resulting disabilities. He adds that success in the early stages afterwards is measured in small improvements. Farquhar’s agent says he’s been progressing and has a positive outlook. It’s fair to think it’ll be a significant amount of time before Farquhar is able to pick up a baseball again, but the early signs are encouraging for the right-hander’s health. Passan’s lengthy piece also details some historical precedents for aneurysms in baseball players, as well as the adversity Farquhar has already overcome in his seven-year MLB career. We at MLBTR are relieved to hear that Farquhar is stable, and wish him the best of fortunes in the road to recovery.

    Other items from around the AL Central…

    • Speaking of close calls, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press has a story from Twins rookie Fernando Romero’s past, when the right-hander almost drowned in a hotel pool. It took a while for Romero to gradually overcome his fear of swimming, but he now uses it as a conditioning method to strengthen his shoulder for pitching purposes. Berardino also tells the tale of how Romero nearly went unsigned for an entire international period, failing to receive an offer from any of the 50 scouts in attendance at a showcase. The main knock on him was lack of a “major league body”, and a perceived likelihood that he’d get hurt. Ultimately Romero found his way to the Perfect Game Tournament, where several more scouts were in attendance, and while the Astros made a strong run at him, he ultimately went to the Twins for a signing bonus of $260K.
    • According to Terry Francona (via a tweet from Jordan Bastian of MLB.com), it’s best-case scenario outcome for Indians reliever Nick Goody, who left the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader with an elbow injury. Tests have revealed no structural damage; it’s thought that Goody’s pain was the result of hyperextending his elbow. He’ll reportedly be shut down for a week and then re-evaluated. It’s a sigh of relief when considering the worst-case scenarios in an elbow-fearing pitching climate; it’s well-known that ligament injuries can result in 12-18 month absences. Goody’s a vital part of a Tribe bullpen that’s recently shuffled through a few low-upside relievers; they’ve designated both Matt Belisle and Jeff Beliveau for assignment in the past week and before that lost Andrew Miller to the DL with a hamstring injury.
    • Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com tells readers about the plate discipline improvements made by Royals outfielder Jorge Soler. In stark contrast to last season, he’s already drawn 18 walks and has seen 4.46 pitches per plate appearance. His .309/.429/.526 slash line on the season is exactly what Kansas City envisioned when they acquired him from the Cubs prior to last season in exchange for closer Wade Davis. Manager Ned Yost credits the improvements to the fact that Soler is “not chasing much of anything”, though it’s certainly worth noting that his chase rate this year is in line with his typically low figures the past few seasons and therefore not indicative of any major changes. I’d add, though, that Soler is certainly seeing more pitches per plate appearance than he did during his injury-riddled 2017 campaign; he’s seen 4.26 PPPA so far, up from 3.99 last season.
    ]]>
    17
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Indians Acquire Oliver Drake From Brewers]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121612 2018-05-05T14:40:04Z 2018-05-05T13:57:39Z Right-hander Oliver Drake, whom the Brewers designated for assignment on Tuesday, has been traded to the Indians for cash considerations. The move was announced by Milwaukee via its Twitter account. The Indians have yet to announce a corresponding move.

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

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

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

    ]]>
    24
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Designate Jeff Beliveau, Gio Urshela; Select Alexi Ogando]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121572 2018-05-04T19:58:22Z 2018-05-04T19:48:29Z The Indians have made some roster tweaks today, per a club announcement, with right-hander Alexi Ogando joining the active roster after his contract was selected. Meanwhile, southpaw Jeff Beliveau and third baseman Gio Urshela were designated for assignment (the latter upon his activation from the DL).

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

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

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

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

    ]]>
    19
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians Select Contract Of Evan Marshall, Put Nick Goody On DL]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121524 2018-05-04T00:21:20Z 2018-05-04T00:21:20Z The Indians have not wasted any time in moving righty Nick Goody to the 10-day DL after he exited tonight’s contest in obvious pain. As MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets, Goody been diagnosed with elbow inflammation for the time being, but will undergo further testing.

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

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

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

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

    ]]>
    5