Cleveland Indians – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-10-25T20:59:40Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Looking For A Match In A Francisco Lindor Trade]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=259285 2020-10-22T13:47:18Z 2020-10-22T01:30:46Z The 2020 season ended in more disappointment for the Indians, who reached the playoffs but were once again unable to break a World Series drought that has gone back to their most recent title in 1948. The Indians may again try to contend next season, but it’s entirely possible they’ll do so without superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor. Although the charismatic four-time All-Star won’t even turn 27 until next month, he’s only a year from a trip to free agency, and odds are that the low-budget Indians won’t be able to extend him. With Lindor due to earn anywhere from $17.5MM to $21.5MM in arbitration, it could make sense for the Indians to listen to trade offers before next season. If that happens, here’s a group of teams that might inquire…

Yankees

  • New York seems to have its long-term answer at shortstop in Gleyber Torres, but he had a so-so season, after which general manager Brian Cashman indicated he’s not a lock to remain at the position. With second baseman DJ LeMahieu set to reach free agency, the Yankees will have to address their middle infield in the coming months. What better way to replace LeMahieu than by acquiring Lindor? He’d grab short and allow the Yankees to move Torres back to the keystone, where he gained a large amount of experience from 2018-19.

Mets

  • This should be an aggressive offseason for the Mets, who figure to change owners from the Wilpons to Steve Cohen. If Cohen wants to make an immediate, headline-grabbing impact, there won’t be many better ways than by acquiring Lindor. The Mets aren’t necessarily set at short, where Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario were more OK than great in 2020.

Angels

  • Regardless of whether the Angels acquire Lindor, they’re probably going to add a new starting middle infielder this offseason. David Fletcher’s capable of playing shortstop, so they’re not necessarily a shoo-in to pick up someone there. However, with Andrelton Simmons set to hit free agency, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them add a high-profile replacement and keep Fletcher at second. The Angels, having missed the playoffs six years in a row, could decide to go big on Lindor. He’d look good in a lineup with Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon.

Braves

  • The Braves received solid production from shortstop Dansby Swanson in 2020, but after failing to take home a championship once again, would they consider a sizable splash in their infield? It seems possible, especially considering their uncertainty at third base. In the event of a Lindor acquisition, the Braves could either move Swanson to the hot corner or make Swanson part of the (a) trade.

Phillies

  • Shortstop wasn’t an issue in 2020 for the Phillies, who benefited after signing Didi Gregorius to a $14MM contract. The problem for Philly is that it may lose Gregorius in free agency, leaving the position as a question mark heading into the offseason. Lindor would make for a more-than-adequate Gregorius replacement if the latter leaves.

Dodgers

  • Flaws are typically hard to find on the Dodgers’ roster, but considering their deep farm system and their penchant for pursuing stars in trades (Mookie Betts and Manny Machado, to name a couple in recent years), it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them involved in the Lindor sweepstakes. The Dodgers are fine with moving players all over the diamond, so even though there’s no clear “fit” for Lindor in LA – which boasts Corey Seager, Max Muncy and Gavin Lux among its returning middle infielders – the club could probably make it work.

Blue Jays

  • Toronto already has an-up-coming shortstop in Bo Bichette, but perhaps the club would be willing to shift its infield around to accommodate Lindor after a playoff season. Bichette could move to second or third, giving the Jays an infield consisting of him, Lindor, Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. On paper, that may be among the scariest IF units in the game.

Reds

  • A Lindor pursuit could  be out of the question for the Reds, but they do need immediate aid at shortstop. Picking up Lindor would give the team a better chance to contend in 2020, and it would hand Cincinnati an opportunity to send Jose Garcia back to the minors for further seasoning.

Athletics

  • The A’s may not have the financial clout to pull this off, but all bets could be off if it’s just for a year. Either way, the A’s, who are coming off a division-winning season, will have to figure out their middle infield before next season. Starting shortstop Marcus Semien is slated for free agency, leaving the A’s without a solution there for the time being.

Twins

  • Considering Cleveland and Minnesota are in the same division, it seems unlikely they’ll match up on a Lindor trade. Still, if the Twins make a compelling offer, the Indians would have to listen. Adding Lindor would allow the Twins to move current starting shortstop Jorge Polanco into a utility role, though that’s assuming he wouldn’t be involved in a possible deal.

Cubs

  • The Cubs already have a shortstop in Javier Baez, but he had a shockingly rough 2020 and does have extensive experience at second base. Maybe president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who’s seeking to change around the Cubs’ offense, would acquire Lindor and move Baez to the keystone in hopes of giving the club a jolt. Chicago does have a notable young middle infielder in Nico Hoerner, but he hasn’t hit since debuting in 2019.
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Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Offseason Outlook: Cleveland Indians]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=259302 2020-10-21T20:31:05Z 2020-10-21T20:31:05Z Has Francisco Lindor played his last game in an Indians uniform?  The shortstop’s fate is the biggest of several questions facing the Tribe this winter.

Guaranteed Contracts

  • Carlos Carrasco, SP: $27MM through 2022 (including $3MM buyout of $14MM club/vesting option for 2022 season)
  • Jose Ramirez, 3B: $11MM through 2021 (includes $2MM buyout of $11MM club option for 2022; also has a $13MM club option for 2023)

Arbitration-Eligible Players

Note on arb-eligible players: this year’s arbitration projections are more volatile than ever, given the unprecedented revenue losses felt by clubs and the shortened 2020 schedule. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, who developed our arbitration projection model, used three different methods to calculate different projection numbers. You can see the full projections and an explanation of each if you click here, but for the purposes of our Outlook series, we’ll be using Matt’s 37-percent method — extrapolating what degree of raise a player’s 2020 rate of play would have earned him in a full 162-game slate and then awarding him 37 percent of that raise.

Option Decisions

  • Carlos Santana, 1B: $17.5MM club option ($500K buyout)
  • Brad Hand, RP: $10MM club option ($1MM buyout)
  • Roberto Perez, C: $5.5MM club option ($450K buyout)(deal also has $7MM club option for the 2022 season)
  • Domingo Santana, OF: $5MM club option ($250 buyout)

Free Agents

After winning 93 games but missing the postseason in 2019, the Tribe got back to the playoffs this year before being unceremoniously swept by the Yankees in the best-of-three wild card series.  Despite a .588 winning percentage since the start of the 2017 season, the Indians haven’t won a single postseason series in those four years, making one of the more successful stretches in franchise history seem like something of a disappointment.

Cleveland has both stretched and tried to manage its payroll to sustain this competitive window, trading such high-salaried notables as Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber in 2019 to save some money and add some younger talent.  Even before the COVID-19 pandemic reduced revenues around baseball, the 2020-21 offseason was always projecting to be a transformative one for the Indians given how many key players (and key salaries) could be moved off the books.

We’ll begin with Lindor, who is entering his final year under team control.  Though neither side has ruled out the possibility of a contract extension, the writing has long been on the wall that the Indians won’t be able to afford the $200MM+ it would take to retain Lindor over the long term.  As such, this offseason represents the last and best opportunity for the Tribe to deal Lindor for a significant trade return, since waiting until next year’s trade deadline would greatly reduce the Indians’ asking price (and increases the risk of Lindor getting hurt or having a bad season).  Moving Lindor prior to Opening Day would also allow Cleveland to save at least $17.5MM in payroll, depending on how his arbitration number is figured.

There are several teams who figure to check in on Lindor’s services, if they haven’t already over the last couple of seasons.  Marcus Semien, Didi Gregorius, and Andrelton Simmons headline this winter’s free agent shortstop class, so Lindor could be seen as a preferable upgrade to that trio for shortstop-needy teams.

Is there a case to be made for keeping Lindor?  Certainly.  Looking at the finances first, Carlos Santana is likely to have his $17.5MM club option declined in the wake of a career-worst season for the veteran first baseman.  With Santana’s money coming off the books anyway, Lindor’s salary might not be seen as onerous for a club that has so little in the way of future contractual commitments.

Plus, trading Lindor for an acceptable return might not be quite so easy for Cleveland.  We’re only a year away from a potentially epic free agent shortstop class that could include Lindor himself along with Carlos Correa, Javier Baez, Trevor Story, and Corey Seager, so rival teams might prefer to acquire a one-year stopgap for 2021 before making the big splash at the position next year.  Trading for Lindor now would cost a team both young talent and money in the form of Lindor’s salary, whereas signing any of Semien, Gregorius, or Simmons costs only money, and less than Lindor’s projected arbitration cost.  Lindor is also coming off a down year by his standards (.258/.335/.415 with eight home runs over 266 plate appearances), which could make teams wary if they don’t write that performance off as a by-product of 2020’s unusual circumstances.

Cleveland doesn’t seem to have any inclination to rebuild, so having Lindor in the lineup would go a long way towards getting them back to the playoffs.  His average numbers in 2020 notwithstanding, Lindor is still one of baseball’s better players, and he has a particular importance on an offensively-challenged Cleveland team.  Part of the reason the Indians were willing to deal Bauer, Kluber, and Mike Clevinger was because of the club’s impressive ability to find and develop big league-ready pitching to restock the rotation, but Lindor is a much tougher player to replace.

MVP candidate Jose Ramirez and young slugger Franmil Reyes are the only sure things in a lineup that could be completely overhauled.  Beyond Lindor and Santana, Cesar Hernandez performed admirably as the Tribe’s second baseman but is headed for free agency.  Delino DeShields and/or Tyler Naquin could be non-tendered as the outfield continues to be a problem area.  At catcher, the Indians could roll with Roberto Perez and Austin Hedges and let Sandy Leon walk in free agency, or one of Perez or Hedges could be let go.

Keeping Lindor would add more stability to an overall unstable position player mix.  In the event that he is dealt, the Tribe could look internally to Yu Chang, Mike Freeman, or (with an aggressive promotion) prospect Tyler Freeman to fill the shortstop void, or Cleveland could themselves look to add a one-year veteran stopgap.  Chang or Mike Freeman could then be used at second base if Hernandez isn’t re-signed, though Hernandez has expressed interest in returning and might have a palatable enough asking price for the Tribe to explore a reunion.

Josh Naylor, acquired from the Padres as part of the Clevinger trade in August, will factor somewhere into the 2021 lineup, though it remains to be seen if the Canadian will be an everyday player at either left field or first base.  Jake Bauers could also be used at either position while Bobby Bradley is a first base candidate.  Star prospect Nolan Jones could also factor into the first base or corner outfield picture, as Jones is being worked out at other positions since Ramirez is occupies third base.

There are enough in-house candidates to provide the front office with some flexibility in their winter shopping.  If the outfield is a priority over second base, for example, the Indians could put their resources towards adding an outfielder and then making do with a Chang/Freeman platoon at the keystone.  The problem is, of course, that just about all of Cleveland’s internal candidates are either unproven at the MLB level or are coming off dreadful seasons.  (Oscar Mercado, for instance, went from Rookie Of The Year candidate in 2019 to possibly the worst hitter in baseball in 2020.)  While keeping Lindor helps this lineup, the lack of solid position player depth also serves as an argument for dealing him, since a trade might be the best method for the Tribe to acquire at least one younger, cheaper, MLB-ready regular.

Since spending will be a premium, the Tribe will be looking to find veterans at relative bargain prices.  The non-tender market is expected to be enormous, and every other team in baseball will also be hoping to scoop up lower-cost players from that same pool.  In a market where contract offers might be low across the board, the Indians have some attractive selling points for prospective free agents — plenty of opportunity for regular playing time, as well as the chance to play for a consistent contender with an elite pitching staff.

Speaking of that rotation, the Indians have the luxury of being able to focus much of their attention the position player side of the diamond thanks to their collection of arms.  Cleveland is one of the few teams that has the pitching depth to potentially make a starter available in a trade, and as the most expensive of the bunch, Carlos Carrasco might be the most obvious trade chip.  As Zack Meisel of The Athletic recently noted, however, Carrasco is such a clubhouse leader and important veteran voice on the perpetually young pitching staff that the team might see him as too valuable to move.  If the hitting is going to continue to be a question mark, the Tribe might also prioritize keeping their rotation as strong as possible.

Cleveland’s bullpen was almost as impressive as the starting staff in 2020.  Another contract with veteran southpaw Oliver Perez seems like a reasonable proposition, but Brad Hand’s $10MM club option looms as the relief corps’ biggest issue.  With James Karinchak positioned as a closer of the future, the Indians might prefer to install Karinchak now rather than pay $10MM to a reliever, even an outstanding one like Hand.  However, Hand is still such a quality pitcher that letting him go for nothing seems like something of a waste of an asset.

Exercising Hand’s option would at least allow the Indians the flexibility to explore trading him this winter, and if no deal could be found, $10MM for Hand might not be so hard to absorb if other salaries (i.e. Santana, Hernandez, Lindor) are also being moved out.  Cleveland could even explore packaging Lindor and Hand together in one blockbuster trade package, if another team wanted to make a big splash to contend in 2021.

With such a tremendous young rotation, the Indians’ window for a World Series is still open.  This offseason will be spent adding and subtracting from the lineup in search of the combination that will generate enough offense to give the pitching a chance.

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Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Examining The Indians' Catching Situation]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=256554 2020-10-14T02:05:08Z 2020-10-14T02:05:08Z
  • Sticking with the AL Central, the Indians face an offseason rife with uncertainty. The catching situation will be particularly interesting, Zack Meisel of the Athletic observes. Cleveland holds a $5MM club option on starter Roberto Pérez, while backup Austin Hedges would be in line for a raise on his $3MM salary in arbitration. That combination might prove too pricey for the low-payroll Indians, Meisel points out. That would seem to hint at Hedges being non-tendered, but Cleveland clearly liked him enough to acquire him from the Padres just over a month ago as part of the return for Mike Clevinger. Pérez had a dismal 2020 but is only a year removed from performing as one of the league’s best catchers; it’s hard to envisioning the Indians declining his option based upon a poor 100 plate appearances, although perhaps Pérez becomes a trade candidate himself if the club is comfortable turning to Hedges as their top option.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Antonetti, Chernoff Discuss Indians’ Payroll, Francona, Lindor]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=252955 2020-10-07T00:48:45Z 2020-10-07T00:48:45Z Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff held their season-ending media event this afternoon, discussing numerous topics with The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes, MLB.com’s Mandy Bell, The Athletic’s Zack Meisel, and other reporters.

    As has become a trend during these wrap-up events in 2020, there was much discussion about how the economic uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the Tribe’s payroll going forward.  While Antonetti said “we don’t have a specific number for a payroll at this point,” no implication was given that the Indians would increase spending in such a “daunting” financial environment.

    The reality of the finances in baseball in 2020 is that the industry lost billions of dollars and as a team we lost tens of millions of dollars.  That puts us in a really difficult financial position that will take us years to recover from,” Antonetti said.

    Pre-pandemic, the Indians had a projected payroll of just under $100MM for the 2020 season and that number could drop significantly given the amount of money coming off the books.  Cesar Hernandez, Oliver Perez, and Sandy Leon are all free agents, and Cleveland holds club options on Carlos Santana and Brad Hand for 2021.  If all five of those players departed, the Tribe would save approximately $39.5MM in salary, though obviously the team would be left needing to fill multiple roster holes.

    Francisco Lindor represents Cleveland’s biggest obligation, as the shortstop is arbitration-eligible for the third and final time and will earn a raise on his $17.5MM salary for 2020.  Given his rising price tag, Lindor’s name has swirled in trade rumors for months, and this offseason could represent the Tribe’s last chance to get a significant trade return on his services.

    While Antonetti said “I don’t think I ever take that view” that Lindor is a surefire trade candidate, the executive did say that there hadn’t been any more extension talks with Lindor’s camp since negotiations broke off during Spring Training.  “What has happened with the pandemic has added an entirely unexpected layer of complexity as to what the future may look like.  So we haven’t even started to wrap our head around what that may look like,” Antonetti said.

    Perhaps more tellingly, Antonetti also made multiple comments about the approach the smaller-payroll Indians have taken to put a consistent winning team on the field.  “I think we’ve made consistent decisions over the course of the past few seasons to infuse young talent to position us to sustain that competitiveness….And had we not made some of those decisions, we’d be in a much worse position right now heading into 2021,” Antonetti said.

    I think we can afford any individual player.  It’s less about that.  It’s about how do we build a team that’s capable of contending? And how do we allocate resources in a way that gives us the best chance to win as many games as possible?

    While Lindor’s Cleveland status may be up in the air, one person who is expected to return next season is manager Terry Francona.  Due to both gastrointestinal problems and surgery to correct a blood-clotting problem, Francona missed 46 games during the regular and both of the Tribe’s playoff contests, with first base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. stepping in as interim manager.  It isn’t yet known if bench coach Brad Mills or hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo will also be back in 2021 — both coaches opted out of the 2020 season.

    In other notable news, Antonetti implied that Jose Ramirez would remain as a third baseman, which creates a few ripple effects for the Tribe.  For one, it will put the focus on acquiring a second baseman (whether re-signing Hernandez or adding someone else) this winter, rather than widening the search to third basemen and moving Ramirez back to the keystone.

    It also means that top prospect Nolan Jones could move off third base and see time as a first baseman or corner outfielder.  “We have talked to him a little bit about the possibility of adding some positional versatility,” Chernoff said.  “He’s out at our fall programming in Arizona now and will mix in potentially at some other spots.”

    Jones played shortstop in high school and shifted to third base in the minor leagues, though there have been long been whispers that first base or the outfield might be his eventual position.  A second-round pick in the 2016 draft, Jones has hit .283/.409/448 over 1453 minor league plate appearances, reaching the Double-A level in 2019.  The cancelled minor league season robbed Jones of his first taste of Triple-A ball, but he did work out at the Indians’ alternate training site all summer as part of the team’s 60-man player pool.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Francisco Lindor Discusses Future]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=251209 2020-10-02T00:18:36Z 2020-10-02T00:18:36Z The Indians’ season ended Wednesday with a loss to the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs, and that may have been the last time superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor ever suits up for the team. Even though he’s still under control for one more season – his final year of arbitration eligibility – Lindor could prove to be too expensive for the low-budget Indians to keep for the long haul, so he figures to pop up in plenty of offseason trade rumors. Lindor, already a four-time All-Star who’s soon to turn 27, spoke about his future with Zack Meisel of The Athletic and other reporters after the Indians’ elimination.

    While Lindor called the Indians “a class-act organization” and made clear he loves the franchise, the city and its fan base, that doesn’t mean the club will be able to retain him. Lindor could price himself out of Cleveland’s range if he’s still a member of the team a year from now, though when asked if the Indians would be able to afford him, he said: “Of course. It’s a billion-dollar team. Of course. Of course. Of course. Yeah. That’s all I can say.”

    Lindor’s right that cash isn’t in short supply for the Indians or any other team; however, in the wake of a coronavirus-shortened season, the Indians may be less willing than ever about giving up huge money for a single player. Lindor could command a long-term deal upward of $300MM in guarantees, so it’s difficult to envision the Indians keeping him for years to come. It may even be hard to imagine that Lindor will stick around next season, considering the tantalizing trade offers that could come in for him.

    The 2020 campaign was not enormously successful for Lindor, who put up his worst-ever batting line (.258/.335/.415 with eight home runs and six steals) across 266 trips to the plate. It was a relatively small sample of work, though, and there’s no debating that Lindor has been a premier player – not just an elite shortstop – since he debuted in 2015. The question now is whether the Indians will retain Lindor to begin 2021, in which he’ll receive a raise over his $17.5MM salary. As good as Lindor is, that could prove too rich for the Indians’ blood if they’re not confident they can extend him.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Indians Reinstate Emmanuel Clase]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=251126 2020-10-01T22:38:44Z 2020-10-01T22:38:44Z
  • The Indians have reinstated right-hander Emmanuel Clase from the restricted list, the team announced. Clase missed the entire season after suffering a teres major strain and receiving an 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. Before that, he was the headlining part of the return the Indians received for righty Corey Kluber in an offseason trade with the Rangers. The flamethrowing Clase thrived in his major league debut in 2019 with a 2.31 ERA/3.43 FIP, 8.1 K/9, 2.31 BB/9 and a 60.6 percent groundball in 23 1/3 innings. Based on that, Clase should be an important part of the Indians’ bullpen next year.
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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[MLB Finalizes 16-Team Playoff Bracket]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=249303 2020-09-28T02:00:04Z 2020-09-27T23:53:32Z With a hectic final day of play in the books, the 2020 playoff field is officially set – which visual learners can view here from MLB Network. The defending World Series champion Nationals and their newly-crowned batting champion Juan Soto will watch from home.  The Mets and Phillies turned in disappointing seasons, while the Marlins stunned their NL East counterparts to enter the postseason as the #6 seed in the National League. The Braves weathered a line change in their starting rotation to win their third consecutive NL East title.

    Elsewhere in the National League, Dodgers are the team to beat, while the Padres are the team to watch. The Rockies and Diamondbacks will face some hard questions in the offseason after disappointing years, while the Giants exceeded expectations but narrowly missed the postseason.

    The Central makes up half the playoff field in the National League with everyone but the Pirates continuing into MLB’s second season. The Cubs took home their third division title in five seasons behind stellar years from Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks, but it was a difficult season for many of their core offensive players. They were also the only team in the majors to go the entire season without a single player testing positive for COVID-19, per NBC Sports Chicago and others. The Cardinals will be the #5 seed after playing two fewer games than the rest of the league, Trevor Bauer led the Reds back to the postseason by winning the NL ERA title (in a free agent year no less), and the Brewers backed into the NL’s #8 seed without ever being above .500 in 2020.

    In the American League, small markets had themselves a year. The A’s took the AL West back from the defending AL champion Astros. Speaking of, Houston finished a tumultuous year without their ace Justin Verlander. Manager Dusty Baker will lead his fifth different team to the postseason, this one joining the Brewers as one of two under-.500 teams to reach the postseason. The Angels will reboot after firing their GM earlier today, while the Rangers and Mariners continue their rebuilds.

    The Rays, meanwhile, won the AL East for the first time in a decade and they’re the top seed in the American League. The Yankees settle for second place and the Blue Jays arrive to the postseason a little earlier than expected as the AL’s #8 seed. The Red Sox took an expected step back, while the Orioles performed better than expected, staying in the playoff hunt for most of the season.

    The Twins lost in extras today, but they nonetheless secured their second consecutive AL Central title. Shane Bieber put up a potentially MVP season to get the Indians back to the playoffs. The White Sox arrived in a major way led by Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu. Only a late season slide kept them from a division crown. They’ll head to Oakland as the #7 seed. The Tigers debuted a number of players they hope will be a part of their next competitive team, while the Royals said goodbye to a franchise icon in Alex Gordon’s final season.

    It was a short and bizarre season, but the playoffs – while expanded – aren’t going to be all that different from most years. There will be neutral sites and a wild card round of 3-game series, and playoff bubbles, but once the field is pared down to eight, it’s more or less business as usual for the postseason. It should be an exciting month of October.

    Here’s the final field of 16:

    National League

    (8) Brewers at (1) Dodgers

    (5) Cardinals at (4) Padres

    (6) Marlins at (3) Cubs

    (7) Reds at (2) Braves

    American League

    (8) Blue Jays at (1) Rays

    (5) Yankees at (4) Indians

    (6) Astros at (3) Twins

    (7) White Sox at (2) A’s

    The playoffs begin on Tuesday, September 29.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Indians Outright Dominic Leone]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=244645 2020-09-16T00:04:21Z 2020-09-16T00:03:32Z
  • The Indians outrighted Dominic Leone off their 40-man roster after the right-hander cleared waivers, and the team announced that Leone has reported to its alternate training site.  Leone was designated for assignment earlier this week.  The veteran reliever struggled to an 8.38 ERA over 9 2/3 innings for the Tribe this season, allowing three home runs (for a 2.8 HR/9) over that brief span.  While six of Leone’s nine runs allowed came over two disastrous outings against the Royals and Tigers, Leone wasn’t exactly solid otherwise, as he allowed at least one baserunner in all but two of his 12 appearances.  On the plus side, Leone did record 16 strikeouts over his 9 2/3 frames.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cesar Hernandez Interested In Remaing With Indians]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=244282 2020-09-14T02:59:55Z 2020-09-14T02:59:55Z
  • There haven’t yet been any contract talks between Cesar Hernandez and the Indians, but the second baseman “would be looking to be part of the team for the coming years,” as he told Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Hernandez was non-tendered by the Phillies last winter and signed a one-year, $6.25MM deal with the Tribe, delivering a .266/.337/.383 slash line over 210 plate appearances in 2020.  While this offensive production is slightly below average (95 wRC+), his bat in combination with his strong second base defense has made for a solid 1.0 fWAR contribution over his 46 games in a Cleveland uniform.  There are some other interesting middle infield options in the free market, plus this player pool is likely to grow once teams make their own non-tender decisions.  Hernandez is the type of decent but unspectacular player who could potentially be squeezed into a one-year contract this winter if teams tighten their budgets in the wake of this pandemic season, so the Indians (certainly a team looking to limit its payroll) could have room to re-sign Hernandez if the price is right.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Indians Designate Dominic Leone For Assignment]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=243699 2020-09-11T20:53:50Z 2020-09-11T20:43:28Z The Indians have designated right-hander Dominic Leone for assignment, the team announced. They recalled righty Cam Hill to take Leone’s roster spot.

    Leone was an offseason minor league signing for the Indians, with whom he cracked the roster but had a rough time over 9 2/3 innings before they designated him. The 28-year-old did rack up 16 strikeouts in that span, but he also gave up nine earned runs on 14 hits and five walks. This will go down as the second straight difficult campaign for Leone, who struggled to a 5.53 ERA/5.45 FIP over 40 2/3 innings as a Cardinal in 2019.

    Not too long ago, Leone was an eminently valuable member of Toronto’s bullpen, as he logged a 2.56 ERA/2.94 FIP with 10.36 K/9 and 2.94 BB/9 in 70 1/3 innings in 2017. The Blue Jays traded Leone to the Cardinals in a deal for outfielder Randal Grichuk during the ensuing winter, but Leone hasn’t really been the same since he battled right biceps problems in his first season in St. Louis.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Indians Select Kyle Nelson’s Contract, Option Adam Cimber]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=243026 2020-09-09T19:36:16Z 2020-09-09T19:36:34Z 2:36PM: Jefry Rodriguez has been placed on the 45-day injured list with a right shoulder strain, which opens a 40-man spot for Nelson.  Rodriguez was on Cleveland’s 60-man player pool but his season will end without any big league action.  The 27-year-old Rodriguez posted a 5.20 ERA over 98 2/3 innings for the Nationals and Indians in 2018-19.

    2:10PM: The Indians have selected the contract of left-hander Kyle Nelson from their alternate training site, the club announced.  Right-hander Adam Cimber was optioned to the alternate training site in a corresponding move, and another move will need to be made to create space for Nelson on the 40-man roster.

    A 15th-round pick for Cleveland in the 2017 draft, the 24-year-old Nelson is on track to make his MLB debut after posting some very impressive numbers in the Tribe’s farm system.  Nelson has a 2.07 ERA, 5.68 K/BB rate, and 13.0 K/9 over 122 career minor league innings, working as a reliever for 95 of his 96 games.  Known for his outstanding slider, Nelson will add some left-handed depth to a Cleveland bullpen that has only two southpaws in its ranks — closer Brad Hand and veteran Oliver Perez.

    Cimber pitched on both Monday and Tuesday, allowing three runs over a combined two-thirds of an inning of work.  His demotion could simply to be to give him a bit of a breather and to allow the Tribe to get a fresher arm into the mix, as Cimber had been pitching quite well prior to those last two outings.  The righty had a 1.80 ERA over his first 10 innings of the 2020 season, albeit with only five strikeouts, which represents a concerning lack of missed bats even though Cimber is a grounder specialist.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Jose Ramirez Exits With Potential Left Thumb Injury]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=242566 2020-09-08T03:19:38Z 2020-09-08T03:02:08Z Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez exited their win over the Royals on Monday with left thumb discomfort, Mandy Bell of MLB.com relays. The Indians replaced Ramirez, who Bell notes has been dealing with the issue for weeks, with Mike Freeman. Whether Ramirez will miss any more time remains to be seen, but the Indians can only hope he won’t, as he has played an important role in their 26-15 start. The 27-year-old Ramirez has followed up a so-so 2019 (by his standards) with a .248/.350/.478 start and nine home runs in 183 plate appearances this season.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Outright Domingo Santana, Release Jake Elmore]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=241508 2020-09-04T14:48:47Z 2020-09-04T13:58:41Z The Indians announced Friday that outfielder Domingo Santana has been assigned outright to their alternate training site after he went unclaimed on waivers. Because Santana was outrighted to the alternate site, he remains in Cleveland’s player pool and is eligible to rejoin the club later this season if they wish to again add him to the 40-man roster. The club also released infielder/outfielder Jake Elmore, who’d been in the 60-player pool.

    Cleveland bought low on Santana this winter, signing him to a one-year, $1.5MM contract with a 2021 club option after he was non-tendered by the Mariners. The hope was surely that he could rebound closer to the .278/.371/.505, 30-homer form he showed with Milwaukee in 2017, but Santana struggled through one of the worst showings of his career with his new club. Appearing in 24 games and taking 84 plate appearances, the 28-year-old hit just .157/.298/.286 with a pair of homers and three doubles.

    Santana did manage a hearty 15.5 percent walk rate, but he also struck out in 30 percent of his plate appearances. Meanwhile, his average exit velocity was down 3.5 mph from its 2019 levels, per Statcast, and his hard-hit rate fell by seven percent. He might return later this month, but suffice it to say, his $5MM club option won’t be picked up.

    The 32-year-old Elmore signed a minor league deal with the Indians back in early July and spent Summer Camp with the team, but he has not been called up from their alternate site to this point. Elmore has appeared in 217 games at the big league level and logged 527 plate appearances.

    Though he’s just a .215/.292/.275 hitter in that time, Elmore has demonstrated as much versatility as anyone in baseball. In 2013, the Astros used him at every position on the diamond — including catcher and pitcher. Elmore has at least 106 innings at all four infield spots, 234 innings in the outfield (including 14 in center) and has also caught 4 1/3 innings and pitched two frames (one run allowed) in the Majors.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Additional Context On Padres’ Flurry Of Trades]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=241069 2020-09-03T15:57:47Z 2020-09-03T15:57:47Z The Padres were the most active buyer at the 2020 trade deadline — arguably of any trade deadline in recent history — reshaping their roster with additions of Mike Clevinger, Austin Nola, Trevor Rosenthal, Mitch Moreland and Jason Castro, among others. The dizzying sequence of additions hearkened back to the days when Matt Kemp labeled A.J. Preller a “rock star” GM during Preller’s frenetic first offseason on the job, but the biggest trades swung by the Padres over the weekend didn’t necessarily come together in straightforward fashion.

    Preller, in fact, was informed Sunday evening that his Padres were “out” of the Clevinger bidding, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (via Twitter). The Indians told the Padres that they were sitting on a better offer and likely to proceed in another direction. That call prompted the club to reconvene and alter its package, ultimately adding infield prospect Owen Miller and catcher Austin Hedges early Monday morning. Those pieces put San Diego’s offer over the top, it seems, as word of Clevinger’s trade to the Friars was out several hours before the 4pm ET deadline.

    Hedges and Miller, the final two pieces of the Padres’ six-player package, added quite a bit more near-term value to the arrangement. Hedges is considered one of the best defensive catchers (if not the best) in the game and is controlled through the 2022 season. The 23-year-old Miller has yet to make his big league debut, but he slashed .290/.355/.430 in a full season at the Double-A level last year while playing three infield positions. He’s in Cleveland’s player pool now and could conceivably be an option this month. If not, he’ll certainly be in consideration for a call to the big leagues come 2021. With Cesar Hernandez playing on a one-year deal, it’s possible that Miller could be in the mix for regular playing time next season.

    But the Clevinger blockbuster wasn’t the only Friars swap that required some persistent iterations. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters after trading Nola, Austin Adams and Dan Altavilla to the Padres that he didn’t expect to trade Nola this summer (as opposed to Taijuan Walker, whom the M’s fully anticipated moving).

    “They had called repeatedly on Austin Nola and we had repeatedly rebuffed that interest until the return just became too big for us to pass up in our minds,”  Dipoto said Monday (link via MLB.com’s Greg Johns).

    The key element of the trade for the Mariners was getting both infielder Ty France and outfield prospect Taylor Trammell in the deal. Dipoto didn’t hide his affinity for either player, revealing that he’s contacted the Padres on France repeatedly over the past couple seasons and been similarly drawn to Trammell dating all the way back to the 2016 draft. “As many phone calls as A.J. made to me this last week about Austin Nola, I have made as many to him over the last couple of years regarding Ty France,” said Dipoto.

    With Nola and Castro now on hand, the Padres have completely remade their catching tandem midseason, but changes could yet be coming. The Athletic’s Dennis Lin reports (subscription required) that the club is contemplating a September promotion for 21-year-old Luis Campusano — a top-ranked catching prospect who was an in-demand piece himself at this year’s deadline. Per Lin, both the Indians and Rangers asked the Padres about Campusano in trade negotiations, but the Friars clearly weren’t inclined to include him in a deal. Cleveland initially sought Campusano and Luis Patino as centerpieces in the Clevinger deal, while the Rangers were interested in that pair as well as shortstop CJ Abrams when discussing Lance Lynn and Joey Gallo with the Padres.

    The 21-year-old Campusano has yet to play above Class-A Advanced, but he tore through the pitcher-friendly California League last year, slashing .325/.396/.509 (148 wRC+). If the Padres do bring him up, they could rotate him, Nola and Castro through the catcher slot while maximizing Nola’s versatility with reps at any of first base, second base, third base or the outfield corners.

    Suffice it to say, we could’ve seen any number of permutations of the Padres’ deluge of deals this past week. Such is the nature of a win-now team with a deep farm system. The club’s minor league system undoubtedly took a hit with this wave of trades, but San Diego also managed to hang onto the majority of its top-ranked prospects while clearly placing themselves in a better competitive position both now and into at least the 2022 season, after which Clevinger is scheduled to become a free agent.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Indians Notes: Marte, White Sox, Clevinger, Padres]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=240226 2020-09-01T18:46:06Z 2020-09-01T18:46:06Z Before the Diamondbacks traded Starling Marte to the Marlins yesterday, “the Indians made a run at” acquiring the outfielder, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (subscription required).  Marte would’ve been a enormous boost to Cleveland’s long-struggling outfield, and it is interesting to wonder what it would have cost the Tribe to land Marte.  Looking at what the D’Backs accepted from Miami, the Indians would have had to surrender a pitcher with some proven MLB-level ability (like Caleb Smith), another big-league ready young arm (like Humberto Mejia), and a lottery ticket of a long-term pitching prospect like Julio Frias.

    Beyond the prospect cost, it’s fair to assume that Marte’s financial cost was also a factor for Cleveland — Marte has $1.71MM remaining this year, and a $12.5MM club option for the 2021 season.  Giving up a big prospect package and then declining Marte’s option wouldn’t have made much sense, and it isn’t yet clear what kind of payroll capacity the Tribe will have going into next season.

    Some more Tribe notes…

    • Also from Rosenthal, he shares some details on the talks between Indians and White Sox about a possible Mike Clevinger trade.  The idea of a Clevinger trade to an AL Central rival seemed surprising at the time, and one Chicago official feels “the Indians used the Sox as a stalking horse, never intending to trade him within the division.”  The White Sox also denied that right-hander Michael Kopech was offered to Tribe as part of the Clevinger negotiations.
    • Clevinger wound up being traded to the Padres as part of a major deadline-day swap that saw the Indians acquire six players.  It was a trade born from a lot of “familiarity” between the two organizations, as president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti told MLB.com’s Mandy Bell and other reporters.  “We’ve spent a lot of time on their system….We have asked about all of these players in the past. Every one of them,” Antonetti said.  “I would comfortably say, at this point, we’ve had hundreds of iterations of deals with the Padres.”  Cleveland and San Diego have combined for five trades since July 2018.
    • In other Clevinger news, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the right-hander turned down an extension offer from the Indians in the spring of 2019.  Terms and contract length weren’t revealed, though the deal would have almost assuredly gone beyond the four years of control the Tribe already held over Clevinger.  The righty was coming off an impressive 2018 season and heading into his age-28 campaign, so purely speculatively, I wonder if the Tribe’s offer was at least somewhat similar to the five-year, $38.5MM extension (with two club option years) reached with Corey Kluber prior to the 2015 season.  Kluber had a similar amount of service time and was coming off a better platform of a Cy Young Award-winning season, though he was also a year older than Clevinger would have been at the time of his hypothetical early-2019 extension.
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