April 23, 2014

Mark Shapiro Discusses Future of Choo, Asdrubal and the Dolans

In an interview with 850AM WKNR, Cleveland Indians team president Mark Shapiro discussed the future of several key individuals within the organization, including chairman and chief executive officer Paul Dolan.

With a bevy of players signing one-year, arbitration-avoiding contracts, the Indians have recently been viewed as a team ripe for the having due to perceived financial flexibility and a payroll that is among the lowest in the league. In response to any allegations toward Dolan and his brother Paul putting the team up for sale, Shapiro stated that this was not the case, but that the father-son pairing do in fact listen to offers.

“[The contracts mean] nothing,” said Shapiro. “I mean, just that the club is not actively being sold or marketed. I think Paul’s been consistent in what he’s said all along – that their always willing to listen should someone come along, but you know, the contracts – what I can tell you definitively is that the contract strategy with the club has nothing to do with the ownership status or situation.”

Two members of the notorious one-year-deal club are fan favorites and budding stars in shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. With specific regard to Choo, Shapiro states that the team has made multiple, long-term offers in seasons past, but did not venture down the same path this past off-season, one which followed what would be considered a disappointment across the board following charges of driving under the influence, a slow start and a campaign ended by injury.

“I can say that we’ve made large offers to him, in the past – we have not made one this year,” said Shapiro. “We’ve made large, multi-year offers to him. And so, you know, again, there’s a consistent track record there. We don’t usually report offers we make. But trust me, on most guys we’ve made offers to – some guys engage and some guys don’t.”

The tune on Cabrera, however, is a bit different.

“You know, I’m not sure [about Cabrera's future in Cleveland],” Shapiro said. “Again, it’s not something where we – I can promise you we have engaged at least in some conversation about multi-year deals. I think I see it this way, we have him for at least two years. He’s an outstanding hitter and solid shortstop.”

The team’s president continues to sympathize with those who are frustrated by the economics of the game, reiterating that there are essentially four or five franchises who have the consistent ability to retain their free agents. Focusing on nostalgia and the memories created every evening, the “connecting generations” tagline is alive and well despite Opening Day still being just over two weeks away.

And in the event that Cabrera, despite being under club control for this season and next, is the next name on the list of those who leave Cleveland in their mid-20s, Shapiro offers the shortstop in waiting: Francisco Lindor.

“[Lindor's] got the actions right now,” said Shapiro. “He’s got the love of the game. He’s a first-round draft pick. He’s what you want those guys to be, he gives you something to dream about. [...] I’ve said this to all our minor league guys, the best players make decisions for us so if this kid is as good as we think he is, he’s going to be moving himself through our system pretty quickly.”

[Related: Brantley’s Strain Conjures Up The Sizemore Signing Pain]

  • Harv 21

    But you should have heard what else Shapiro said last week to the Baltimore station.

    #lowhangingfruithashtagsrsofunny

  • Jeff Nomina

     Asdrubal is coming off a career year (25 HRs when his previous high was 6) and showed up to camp overweight.  If ever there were another ‘Hafner’ deal in the waiting, it would be him. 

  • http://twitter.com/cpmack Chris M

     Meanwhile, the CBA was just quietly renewed, and none of the “have nots” made a single solitary sound about the unfairness of the economics of Major League Baseball. Honestly, who does Shapiro think he’s kidding?

  • Steve

     The have nots have made noise about the unfairness of the economic structure, the problem is that it’s not that simple to get the drastic change that quickly. The new CBA is going make the Yankees get spending under $189 million by 2014. Now, I know that’s still a lot of money, but that’s not only a halt to Yankee spending, but a noticeable cut in payroll. And they reworked the revenue sharing system so that it ties more closely to market size. Again, these aren’t drastic changes, but they are steps in the right direction. The have nots can’t bring in sweeping reform, but they can keep making chinks in the armor.

  • Steve

     The have nots have made noise about the unfairness of the economic structure, the problem is that it’s not that simple to get the drastic change that quickly. The new CBA is going make the Yankees get spending under $189 million by 2014. Now, I know that’s still a lot of money, but that’s not only a halt to Yankee spending, but a noticeable cut in payroll. And they reworked the revenue sharing system so that it ties more closely to market size. Again, these aren’t drastic changes, but they are steps in the right direction. The have nots can’t bring in sweeping reform, but they can keep making chinks in the armor.

  • mgbode

    I would love for Shapiro to honestly tell us what he thinks about some of the points of the CBA that Jon outlined for us here.  Particularly the draft changes.  I will bet that privately he was fuming about those changes (though he is too polished to ever let that on in an interview).

  • Modellsux

    Shapiro told a close friend of mine 2 years ago that within 5 years the Cavs or Indians will be sold and moved out of Cleveland. Sounds like a reasonable prognostication by Shapiro based on today’s comments. Looks like I will be saving money buying Crusher season tickets in the future.

  • mgbode

    or your “friend” looked at the lease situation of the Indians coupled with the fan situation and took a guess. 

  • EyesAbove

     I hope you’re wrong but fear that same thing. Despite the highlight reel plays his range was already below average, putting on weight was the last thing he needed to do. We’ll see what happens though, the weight thing could be much ado about nothing in the end.

  • erchoov

    Your friend seems like a reliable source.  My super close friend told me that Shapiro told him that he had been sniffing spray paint 20 minutes before his last 8 drafts and decided to not pass the tradition to Antonetti this past season, resulting in what appears to be a better draft. 

  • Steve

     I’m sure he was torn on it. The Indians have gone over slot early in the draft like most teams, but they also have been taking fliers on signability guys in rounds 11+. The CBA all but quashes those kind of deals. But the fact of the matter is that the big market teams were going to wise up to this eventually, and outspend teams in the draft like they do in FA.

  • Steve

     I’m not going to call you or your friend a liar, but do you realize how unlikely it is that Shapiro would tell random people that the team might move? Modell kept negotiations to move very quiet despite begging for public funds.

  • porkchopexpress

    I know its ticky tacky but can you edit the Larry and Paul are brothers part?  People seem to have a hard enough time directing their bile at a father son team, as opposed to a “brother” team, without misstatements such as; “In response to any allegations toward Dolan and his brother Paul putting the team up for sale”
    For the 1000th time Paul can’t put the Indians up for sale any more than Jimmy Dolan can put the Knicks up for sale, they run the teams for their daddy’s
    I wouldn’t make such an issue of it, however people seem to make a leap that Dolan billions are Dolan billions.  Charles is the HBO founding billionaire of the lot.  Larry is not.  Jimmy is the coke abusing crazy son of Charles.  Paul is the son of Larry.  Paul and his kids have millions (lots of them) however they don’t have billions. 
    I truly without any sarcasm hold this site in the highest esteem but it seems like nobody that writes for it can be bothered to know, let alone spend 5 seconds Googling the lineage of the current Indians ownership.  Its infuriating because I feel like this kind of sloppiness leads people to assume there is a singular billion dollar Dolan enterprise that is withholding funds from the Indians, and it simply isn’t so.  And in full disclosure on my part I adore the fact that the Indians have adopted a Down Syndrome charity that raises 10s of thousands of dollars for families, among several other charities, and to my knowledge they have never asked for credit, nor have they thrown this or other charitable actions into the public forum as a defense for their Indians spending habits. 
    Because of the salary structures in football and basketball, the billionaire owners of the Browns and Cavs won’t lose a dime regardless of how their teams perform.  The Indians operate on a comparatively razor thin margin and get crucified for not dropping millions of their own personal dollars into the team even though the fans have absolutely proven they won’t come out until the team is on the cusp of a WS.

  • Modellsux

    I’m not telling you to believe me… I am just telling you to watch what happens in three years from now. Why do you think dolans don’t have any long term contracts on the books? The dolans are far worse than Modell because they are even dumber than he is.

  • Modellsux

    Lets see how you feel about the uber-philanthropic dolans in three years when Jacobs field brings in snow machines to recreate snow days in the middle of summer to try and pay for the property taxes.

  • mgbode

    we get it.  in 3 years the lease is up.  then, there will be a series of 3year leases between the Indians and  “the Jake” (whoever thought that one up wasn’t thinking).    so, given the current state of the fans, the current state of the team financials, and other markets keeping tabs on obtaining a team (Portland, SA, Vegas, others), there is a non-zero chance that the Indians cna be moved.

    I agree and have worried about it on here before.  Just no reason to say you have inside knowledge of it happening.  Heck, even if you did, there is no way that Shapiro would know for sure until it actually happened.

  • kjn

    I never verified this, but read in several places that the Yankees and Red Sox already were the #1 & #2 spending teams in the draft on average over the last X years. True? I don’t know. Plausible though.

  • Natedawg86

    Move him to third when Lindor comes up.  I would take a 3B that hits 20 HRs a season.

  • Steve

     Chisenhall is going to be around a lot longer than Cabrera

  • kjn

    Well said. People have been crowing about the Tribe moving for years, mostly based around the lease terms.

    MLB is not the NFL. Moving/selling a team is a difficult prospect. If the City of Cleveland is not (they won’t be) happy with the prospect of losing the Indians, all they have to do is threaten a lawsuit that would put MLB’s anti-trust exception at risk. MLB will never take a chance of losing that.

    There’s also the issue, as you point out, of a finding a city. For years, Tampa Bay was the premiere market that every team that wanted a new stadium looked at it. And you know what?Once it got a team, It can barely support it.

    Related to that is television/media territory. Anyone who has followed the A’s attempt to move to San Jose knows what a contentious issue that is. Plunking the Indians down in a place like Portland, SA, or Vegas would upset multiple teams as it would take away their dollar bills.

    Never say never (especially if Selig wants it to happen), but there are about a million hurdles to any kind of move. A sale? Possible.

  • Steve

     I don’t think that’s accurate. They were 16th and 9th last year respectively, still high considering their slot though. The top few spots each year are filled with the teams who have picked at the top of the draft, as it can cost just as much to sign a top 2 or 3 guy as some teams spend on the entire draft. So teams like the Royals, Pirates, and Nationals have to be at the top of that leaderboard.

  • Steve

     Well now I’m going to call you a liar. The lack of long-term contracts argument is a myth. The vast majority of the roster is locked up for a few years, and they’ve been working on deals with Choo and Cabrera. Quite a few smaller market teams also lack guaranteed long-term deals, and they aren’t being sold either.

    And your evidence that the Dolans are dumb – watertight.

  • kjn

    I’m not sure where to find reliable #’s on draft spending that go back a while.

    Again it was supposedly the highest on average over the last so many years. It’s plausible to me since it seems like teams like the Royals, etc. occassionally overpay to the extreme while the Yanks/Sox probably regularly spend a decent chunk of change.

    But I don’t know and accept it may not be correct. Either way, I don’t think the new draft rules will be as disasterous to small market teams as people think.

  • Garry_Owen

    Objection.  Hearsay. 

  • mgbode

    very good point on the TV contracts.  one of the reasons the Rangers are getting that huge local TV deal is that they include secondary markets of Oklahoma City, SA, Austin, and others “nearby.” 

    Placing a team in SA would take away 2 of their biggest secondary markets (Austin/SA are so close that Austin is considered a primary market for the SA Spurs, I assume it would be the same for MLB).

    the one reason that a move “could” happen with the Indians though are those 3 year leases after 2015.  they could use them to ensure they can get past any delays because of legal issues, TV issues, and/or stadium construction issues.  That was a terrible clause to put into the lease and really leaves the city in a bad spot.  There are still enough hurdles that it would be extremely tough to actually do (and I would think having a 100+ yr old team helps Cleveland).

  • mgbode

    and Chisenhall can move to 1B.   Santana would have already moved from C -> 1B by then, so he moves to part-time DH. 

    and that’s not being sarcastic.  I could see it playing out that way if we could keep Asdrubel, which I dont’ think that we will because his market value is going to be really high (and at SS).

  • kjn

    I don’t think those three year leases end up happening. Considering how old the entire Gateway complex is getting, I think the Cavs & Indians will both be negotiating with the city in the next few years to work out a deal to improve it. That deal will include new lease turns.

    Now that I think about it, all this move talk may be a long term tactic by the Indians. Put the thought in everyone’s head so when you come asking for money to renovate the Jake you find a more receptive audience. It’d also be nice to have a team on the field at the time that isn’t complete trash.

  • mgbode

    Red Sox, Pirates, Nationals, Orioles, Indians, Royals, Rays were the highest spending teams from 2008-2010.

    some of that is the bad teams having the higher picks and the bigger contracts, but alot was also willingness to go over slot for the compensatory picks and 2nd rounders, later picks, etc.

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/draft/2010/08/bonus-expenditures-2008-10/

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Shapiro screwed up…he called a Cleveland radio station! 

  • Steve

     I’d much rather move Cabrera to 1B. I”ll take the guy that I thought looked pretty good defensively at age 22 and keep him at his position and just move the guy who is declining defensively than try to manage two moving parts at once.

  • http://twitter.com/cpmack Chris M

     Considering the “have nots” count for over 80% of the league, they didn’t make enough noise. The “have nots” make plenty of money, and don’t care to rock the boat. It’s pretty easy to make this assertion.

    If they weren’t making money, the owners would have been infighting during the bargaining.

  • Steve

     The New Yorks, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicagos and Los Angeles teams make up 27% of the league. And then there are teams like Texas, St. Louis, and Atlanta that have very favorable media arrangements that they don’t want messed with. The have-nots are numerous, but not +80% of the league. And the have-nots on the Indians level make up no more than 10 organizations.