April 24, 2014

Bourn Identity: What’s going on with the Indians center fielder?

michael bournA massive debate broke out on Twitter at the end of Friday’s disheartening 3-2 Indians defeat. This time around, it wasn’t actually about attendance.

No, it was about Michael Bourn and his eventually failed bunt attempt. After red-hot Lonnie Chisenhall started the bottom of the ninth against the Blue Jays with a double, Bourn attempted to bunt twice and failed each time. On the 0-2 pitch, he struck out with a weak swing.

Was it the right decision to bunt when the Tribe needed just one run to bring the game into extra innings? Should Bourn be bunting at all? And what does this all have to do with WAR and the changing evaluations of baseball?

It’s all wrapped together in the way we think, talk and write about Michael Bourn, a 31-year-old center fielder being paid $13.5 million this season and a guaranteed $27.5 million more through 2016. He’s back in the lineup after starting the year on the DL. What should we expect? What’s next? [Read more...]

Justin Masterson’s offer might be fair, but that doesn’t make it good: The Diff

Angels Indians BaseballIt’s a popular opinion to dislike the Dolan family for their ownership of the Cleveland Indians. Ever since purchasing the team in 2000, they’ve been characterized as cheapskates unable to consistently afford to compete in the non-salary cap landscape of Major League Baseball.

Last night’s news that Justin Masterson negotiations have ended for the spring certainly didn’t help that narrative. Per the reports, the team’s ace had been eager to sign a short-term deal to stay in Cleveland after narrowly avoiding arbitration for a final time. Now, it appears he’ll at least test the open markets this winter.

Despite the popular opinions, there actually might be some logic to what the Indians might (or might not) be doing with this maneuver. There might be sound reason for hesitation with Masterson’s reported three-year $52 million offer. Let’s explore some reasons why.

[Read more...]

Justin Masterson negotiations with Indians reportedly end for spring

mastersonredsThe Indians and Justin Masterson have stopped conversations about a long-term deal until after the season, per multiple reports on Thursday night.

The two sides narrowly avoided arbitration last month. That one-year deal worth $9.7625 million will take the soon-to-be 29-year-old into free agency this winter.

For weeks, we have seen rumors of Masterson’s eager willingness to sign a purported short-term, team-friendly deal to stay in Cleveland. Terms were reportedly in three-year $52 million range, as Rosenthal reported.

Masterson was 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA in 32 games (29 starts) last season for the 92-win Indians. We’ll certainly have more on this story on Friday. Stay tuned for our thoughts.

Justin Masterson willing to sign short-term deal to stay with Tribe

Justin Masterson

What was once thought to be a lost cause may no longer be the case. Cleveland Indians ace hurler Justin Masterson has reportedly used the last several days to let the world—and the team—know that he is not looking for Homer Bailey-type money. In fact, Masterson is willing to sign a shorter, less-lucrative contract to stay with the Indians, as long as it at least “makes sense.”

Though Masterson signed an 11th-hour one-year contract that successfully avoided arbitration, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported last Tuesday that the 6-foot-6-inch right-hander spent a good portion of the weekend discussing a potential long-term solution. The Cincinnati Reds recently signed Bailey to a six-year, $105 million deal that was all but sure to have ushered Masterson to a new team come 2015. Per Heyman, however, Masterson told the Tribe that he is willing to accept a shorter contract, said to be in the three-to-four-year range, firmly putting the onus back on the front office to attempt to agree to terms.

Indians beat writer Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group followed up the Heyman report by stating Masterson and his agent have made a three-to-four-year proposal to the Indians which is believed to be in the $40-60 million range, less than the $16 million-per-year estimates that were once discussed. They are currently waiting to hear back from the team.

“We’re trying to be sensitive to something that makes sense. We’ve been sensitive, flexible and willing to work with them. But we can’t be … a sellout,” Masterson’s agent Randy Rowley said.

For comparison purposes, a three-year, $40 million deal would be roughly equivalent to what Carlos Beltran signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. Curtis Granderson signed a four-year, $60 million deal with the New York Yankees. To compare this to other pitchers, however, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ricky Nolasco and Matt Garza both signed four-year, $50 million deals with their respective teams; the Angels signed Jason Vargas (31 years old, 9-8 with a 4.02 ERA in 2013) to a four-year, $32 million deal.

Masterson, who turns 29 later this month, recently avoided arbitration with the Indians by agreeing to a $9.7625 million contract. He’s coming off a 3.45 ERA and 195/76 K/BB ratio over 193 innings last year.

Per Heyman, Rowley reportedly suggested a figure in talks Saturday with the Indians, and there is said to be a decent feeling among Indians people that they may be able to work something out with the right-hander, if not immediately then perhaps by the end of spring. With Masterson and his agent sharing their side of the story, the ball appears to be firmly back in the court of those in the offices of Carnegie and Ontario.

Image: Chuck Crow/Plain Dealer

Indians avoid arbitration with Justin Masterson

Justin Masterson

The Cleveland Indians and ace right-hander Justin Masterson managed to succesffully avoided a mid-day plane trip to Florida, agreeing to terms on a one-year, arbitration-avoiding deal. Take it away, boys…

Recall, the Indians and Masterson filed arbitration values that were vastly different—the team submitted a $8.05 million one-year bid; Masterson, conversely, asked for $11.8 million. MLB Trade Rumors (correctly) estimated that he would receive $9.7 million, proving once again that web-dwelling writers know more than anyone1.

In 2013, the Giant Jamaican posted a 14-10 record and 3.29 ERA in 32 games (29 starts). Masterson is slated to be a free agent following the conclusion of the 2014 season and has, thus far, been unable to come to terms on a multi-year deal with the Indians’ front office. Both sides have said they’re open to a long-term deal, but as Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group writes, “it’s believed those talks have gained little, if any, traction.” If you ask our own Jacob, this may not be such a bad thing.

Image via Chuck Crow, The Plain Dealer

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Footnotes:

  1. Mostly. []

Ubaldo Jimenez deal simply made more sense for Orioles

Ubaldo Jimenez dealing

Within the context of MLB free agency, four years and $48 million sounds about right for 30-year-old Ubaldo Jimenez. Within the context of MLB economics, it probably just was a more palatable deal for the Baltimore Orioles than the Cleveland Indians.

You see, even though the Orioles had to sacrifice the No. 17 overall pick1, they’re in a peculiar situation with potentially waning oodles of money to spend and in a division that requires spending. The Indians, although seven games better than the O’s in 2013, already have likely reached their spending limit for the coming season. Indications had been a bound for months that a Jimenez return was unlikely – the two sides reportedly hadn’t talked in weeks.

But the financial flexibility difference between Baltimore and Cleveland, although both face significant pressure for 2014, has a lot to do with TV and its associated boom of sports-related revenue. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. According to baseball-reference.com, the No. 17 pick has had a 65% success rate of reaching the majors and 8.3 WAR per major leaguer []

The Diff: Looking at extension examples for the Indians and Jason Kipnis

The Diff is your weekly WaitingForNextYear look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles over the last 12 months, click this link.

The Diff

This week has generally been an exciting one for Cleveland Indians fans. Beloved (yet probably overrated) outfielder Michael Brantley was signed to a long-term contract. The deal covered the Branley’s remaining arbitration seasons and guaranteed at least one free agency year. Many are thrilled about the team’s commitment to a fan favorite. With that deal out of the way, it’s now time to discuss the next young Indians position player extension candidate: 2013 American League All-Star Jason Kipnis. This deal might not be so easy to negotiate. [Read more...]

Indians and Michael Brantley close to signing four-year extension

The Cleveland Indians and outfielder Michael Brantley are close to signing a four-year contract extension. This news was first reported by Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

In what was his first full season as the everyday left fielder for the Indians, the 26-year-old Brantley provided incredible stability by playing in 151 games, hitting a team-high .284 (.728 OPS). His across-the-board production, aided by a substantial increase in stolen base success rate, saw him finish ranked 34th among all outfielders in 2013 (per Fangraphs), ahead of notables like Detroit’s Austin Jackson, Tampa Bay’s Desmond Jennings and Los Angeles’ Josh Hamilton.

The financials of the deal are not yet known, but Brantley was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, so it sounds like the Indians may have bought out at least one free agent year, similar to the deals given to Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana over the past few seasons.

Naturally, we will have more on this as details emerge.

Update at 9:10 p.m. Monday: Hoynes has reported the official terms of the contract.

Brantley had been projected for a 2014 salary of $3.7 million, per MLB Trade Rumors. We’ll have plenty more analysis on this topic tomorrow at WFNY.

[Jon's June 2013 article on an extension: Michael Brantley and the Wait ‘n See Approach]

Indians haven’t talked to Ubaldo Jiménez in weeks

No player in Cleveland had a bigger turn-around than Ubaldo

Pitchers and catchers are set to report to Goodyear, Arizona and one of their own, free agent starter Ubaldo Jiménez, remains unsigned. Nevertheless, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Tribe has not had contact with Jiménez in “weeks.”

Jiménez, arguably the best pitcher in the AL through the second half of 2013, is still on the market and there’s been some chatter about the right-hander returning to Cleveland on a one-year deal, but it’s all speculation at this point. As Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Terry Pluto pointed out this past weekend, Jeff Sullivan over at Fangraphs did an interesting story on Jiménez, explaining why teams are very cautious about throwing sizeable free agent dollars in his direction, including the team’s second-half schedule and the effect of Yan Gomes behind the plate. “Jimenez is probably the most mysterious out of everybody. He’s been an ace, he’s been a wreck, and he’s been everything in between,” writes Sullivan.

The 30-year-old Jiménez posted a 3.30 ERA and 194/80 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 182 2/3 innings last season. He was said to be looking at a multi-year deal upwards of $14 million per year. He was linked to the Toronto Blue Jays at the end of January, but those talks have apparently not progressed.

 

Indians win arbitration case with reliever Vinnie Pestano

20130118-121651.jpgThe Cleveland Indians have won their arbitration case with relief pitcher Vinnie Pestano, reports CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The Indians’ filing of $975,000 won out over Pestano’s offer of $1.45 million for the 2014 season. The two sides met in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Friday morning.

The setup man, who turns 29 in a couple weeks, is in his first season of arbitration eligibility. He’s eligible to be a free agent after the 2017 season. He owns a career 2.82 ERA with 205 strikeouts in 172.1 innings over 179 MLB relief appearances.

Most memorably, Pestano was demoted to Triple-A Columbus on July 31 this past season. He had a 3.29 ERA in 14 games for the Clippers last year, his first stint back in the minors since 2010. He pitched in three September games for the Tribe. He’s one of the favorites for the final bullpen roles this season.

MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian shared some insights on the case on Thursday. It was the Indians’ first arbitration hearing since 1991 with Greg Swindell and Jerry Browne. The team also is likely headed to arbitration in the next two weeks with Josh Tomlin, Michael Brantley and Justin Masterson.

Masterson, who turns 29 in March, had the largest arbitration filing gap in baseball this offseason. The team filed for $8.05 million and the player’s camp filed for $11.8 million. This is his final season of arbitration eligibility and the team’s ace is scheduled to be a free agent after this year. Recently, extension talks were put on hold in order to focus on a one-year deal.

Why are so many arbitration cases happening for the Indians? Why would they even both going to a hearing over such relatively small gaps for Pestano and Tomlin?

Sports Illustrated’s Ben Reiter had a very detailed article on Friday about the “file-to-go” or “file and trial” strategy that many more teams are adopting. The team strategy declares that “once they have officially exchanged arbitration figures with a player, they will no longer negotiate with him. His salary will be decided in a hearing.”

The specifics of why such a strategy can be beneficial to teams are a bit complex. Essentially, it is designed to avoid going to hearings and force agents to file actually realistic numbers for their players. Certainly, rightfully or not, Cleveland’s arbitration cases this season – their first in over 20 years – won’t help the fan narrative about the team’s willingness to spend competitively.

[Related: Could Ubaldo have a Cleveland Homecoming?]

Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY

Indians continue stockpiling hitters, add former Cubs slugger Bryan LaHair

bryan lahair cubsThe Cleveland Indians signed first baseman/outfielder Bryan LaHair to a minor league deal with a spring training invite, the team announced on Wednesday afternoon.

LaHair, 31, is most well known for his torrential start to the 2012 season with the Chicago Cubs. A long-time minor leaguer and 2011 Triple-A Pacific Coast League MVP, he earned the team’s starting first baseman job almost by default. Top prospect Anthony Rizzo was simply waiting in the wings in the minors.

Through May, LaHair batted .308/.396/.582 with 10 doubles, 10 homers and 22 RBI in only 45 games and 169 plate appearances. His success was one of the best stories in baseball. That run helped him become an 2012 National League All-Star.

But right on cue, he started cooling off considerably in June, batting only .222/.284/.351 in his final 211 plate appearances for the year. Rizzo became a regular starter by July 2012 and later was given a seven-year deal in May 2013. He’s Chicago’s brightest offensive star.

Without a job following the 2012 season, LaHair was purchased by the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Japan Pacific League. He struggled overseas, batting .230/.306/.428 in 111 games. The team granted him his release just two weeks ago on Jan. 22, 2014.

For his career, the left-handed hitter owns a .297/.368/.528 line in 653 Triple-A games and a .260/.334/.430 line in 195 MLB games. He also has assorted experience at both corner outfield positions.

Expectations likely should be low for LaHair, as he wasn’t very good after his hot two months in 2012 and then produced sub-par numbers over in Japan. Again, it’s simply another low-risk deal for the Indians, who continue to stockpile veterans for their spring training roster.

Previous position player signings include Elliot Johnson, Jeff Francoeur, Nyjer Morgan, Matt Treanor, Luke Carlin and David Adams. Cleveland has a glaring need for a backup catcher and is trying out alternative options at third base, but no other glaring holes. Certainly, if any of these players catch fire in Arizona, however, they could force their way onto the 25-man roster at some point.

[Related: Carlos Santana moving to third base, Chris Antonetti looking for free agents: Thursday Tribe Notes]

Photo: ZUMAPRESS.com

Indians, Justin Masterson pause extension talks, focus on one-year deal

mastersonstWith their scheduled arbitration hearing approaching, the Indians and ace Justin Masterson have shelved discussions of a long-term deal and are focusing on a one-year solution.

The Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes reported the update on Monday evening. Discussions are continuing between the team and Masterson’s agent Randy Rowley.

The filing difference between the two parties — $11.8 million from Masterson, $8.05 million from the Indians — was the largest in baseball this offseason. That’s what has led the Indians to say it’s “very likely” their 23-year run of avoiding arbitration will soon end. Masterson’s arbitration hearing is scheduled for Feb. 20 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

MLB Trade Rumors expected Masterson to receive $9.7 million for 2014. There had been previous speculation of a five-year $75 million extension, including his final arbitration-eligible season of 2014. That would then equate to a four-year deal of about $65 million.

Surprisingly, the Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto also shared the Indians may be headed to arbitration with starter/reliever Josh Tomlin. He filed for $975,000, but the team filed for $800,000. It seems peculiar, considering the team’s long-time aversion to hearings. This one is scheduled for Feb. 14.

Eventually, Cleveland’s front office is expected to reach one-year deals with outfielder Michael Brantley and reliever Vinnie Pestano. Both are a couple years away from free agency and the filing differences — Brantley: $3.8 million v. $2.7 million; Pestano: $1.145 million v. $975,000 — weren’t that significant.

[Related: The Diff: What’s up with Justin Masterson’s Indians future?]

Photo: Chuck Crow/Plain Dealer

Kluber and Masterson listed among breakout players to watch by ESPN

Justin MastersonClayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Masahiro Tanaka may be making all of the headlines, but two (considerably more cost-friendly) members of the Cleveland Indians are receiving prase as potential breakout players by certain scribes at ESPN.com: starting pitchers Corey Kluber and Justin Masterson

David Schoenfield of the dot com’s SweetSpot baseball blog praised Kluber for his solid 2013 season which included the sixth-best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the American League (4.1-1). To those who believe that Kluber may have merely been a flash in the pan, Schoenfield says au contraire.

He’s not just a finesse guy who lucked into a good year, as he owns a solid fastball (93.1 mph average velocity) and terrific curve. Batters hit .196 off it with just two home runs, 50 strikeouts and no walks.

While Kluber should provide more-than-adequate quality in the middle of the Indians’ rotation, Dan Szymboroski (who has also done spectacular work for FanGraphs) thinks Justin Masterson could have his name in the mix for the 2014 AL Cy Young.

By ERA, Masterson’s 2013 was not as strong as his career-best 2011, but there is one key difference: strikeout rate. From 2010 to 2012, his rate hovered at about 17 percent, but in 2013 it jumped up to 24.3 percent. Strikeout rates for pitchers tend to stabilize very quickly, much less prone to the lucky/unlucky runs that can sometimes plague other pitcher statistics, like BABIP and homers allowed.

 A 30 percent boost in strikeout rate is nothing to laugh at — it was Scherzer’s jump from 8.0 K/9 to 11.1 K/9 in 2012 that set off my alarm — and all that’s missing for the grounder-heavy Masterson is a top-notch infield defense.

Somewhere on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario, a front office is doing their best to ensure that this report doesn’t make its way to the all-but-impending arbitration hearing between them and Masterson. Reports are circulating that a multi-year contract with the Indians’ ace have not gone well. A free agent after this season (who happens to be asking for over $11 million for any one-year deal), if Masteron can play up to the expectations of Szymboroski, retaining him will prove to be an even higher hurdle.

(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Indians bring back veteran catcher Luke Carlin

luke carlinVeteran catcher Luke Carlin will be returning to the Cleveland Indians in 2014 on a minor league free agent deal.

The team announced the move on Twitter early Friday morning. Carlin, 33, appeared in 138 games for Triple-A Columbus and 10 for the Indians from 2010-2012. He spent last season in the Los Angeles Angels organization, batting .230/.339/.311 in 77 games over in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.

As of now, as Indians Baseball Insider’s Tony Lastoria quipped on Twitter yesterday, the Tribe lacks many viable big-league backup catching options. Yan Gomes is expected to be the new everyday catcher. Carlos Santana is reportedly preparing for possibly regular duty at third base. After that, the only other option is 37-year-old Matt Treanor, who also was signed to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.

In 2013, Santana made 81 starts at catcher, Gomes made 79 and since-departed Lou Marson made the other two. Gomes is only 26 and only had 178 games of catching experience in the minor leagues. So the Indians rightfully should have some concerns about how many games he can catch in 2014.

Carlin is a boring signing. But he has familiarity with the Indians organization and will likely remain as an emergency backup option over with the Clippers. So in that sense, it’s a safe move for the organization.

The Indians recently invited catching prospect Roberto Perez to big league spring training. The 25-year-old is regarded as the best defensive catching prospect in the system. But he batted just .200/.337/.286 in 350 plate appearances between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus last season. So he’s not really a viable MLB option at this point.

[Related: Thursday Tribe Notes]

Photo: Jordan Bastian/MLB.com

Indians join the list of teams interested in Luis Ayala

photo

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Cleveland Indians are among several teams to be interested in free agent reliever Luis Ayala.

https://twitter.com/JonHeymanCBS/status/426370937978486784

Ayala collected a 2.90 ERA for the Braves last season, and has posted a 2.58 ERA across 157 appearances over the last three years.

Per Heyman, the Tribe joins the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners in their continued quest for a bolstered bullpen, putting them in the mix with two teams that have had no issues spending money this offseason. Making matters worse, as the winter meetings rolled along, there were as many as 12 teams that reportedly had interest in the 36-year old, including the free-spending Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. If Ayala were to find his way to the Indians, he would join a litany of bullpen arms, including recent additions like John Axford, David Aardsma and Josh Outman.

Image: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees ink Tanaka; Ubaldo Jiménez could be the next domino to fall

No player in Cleveland had a bigger turn-around than Ubaldo

Is Ubaldo the next to sign?

Highly coveted Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka and the New York Yankees agreed to a seven-year $155 million deal on Wednesday. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal was the first to report the details. It’s a record amount given to an incoming Japanese player under the new posting system that caps team transfer fees at $20 million.

But with Tanaka off the free agent board, this now means that pieces should fall into play soon for the remaining top pitchers. This includes likely departing Cleveland Indians right-hander Ubaldo Jiménez as well as Kansas City’s Ervin Santana and Texas’ Matt Garza.

MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo shares that one National League executive bets that deals could be reached for those three as early as this weekend.

Today is actually Jiménez’s 30th birthday. He had an outstanding final four-fifths of 2013 with the Tribe. In his 27 starts from April 29-onward, he went 13-7 with a 2.61 ERA and 179 strikeouts in 165.2 innings. He arguably was baseball’s best pitcher in the second half.

This followed nearly two full seasons of sub-standard pitching, among the worst for any full-time starter. That’s what makes his free agency status fairly intriguing in this rapidly changing market place. Reportedly, he is requesting $14 million per year for multiple seasons.

Jiménez declined Cleveland’s one-year qualifying offer of $14.1 million. That means any signing team will have to forfeit their highest available draft pick for the right to sign him in free agency. That caveat means there’s a small but non-zero possibility he could somehow find his way back to Cleveland.

[Related: The Qualifier: Can the Indians steal back Ubaldo Jimenez?]

 

Indians, Justin Masterson file MLB’s largest arbitration gap

Justin MastersonThe Cleveland Indians and ace Justin Masterson filed vastly different arbitration values on Friday with arbitration hearings two weeks away.

MLB Trade Rumors estimated that the soon-to-be 29-year-old, one year away from free agency, would likely receive $9.7 million for 2014.

In the filings, as first reported by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Indians tabbed $8.05 million as the number and Masterson said $11.8 million. Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan shared that it’s the biggest arbitration filing gap reported thus far.

Masterson had another fine season in 2013. He posted a 14-10 record and 3.29 ERA in 32 games (29 starts). He earned some relief appearances down the stretch after battling back from an injury. He’s expected to be the team’s Opening Day starter again this season.

But with his free agency pending next offseason, this is by far the team’s biggest possible arbitration case this winter. The Indians have not actually gone to an arbitration hearing since 1991. More likely than not, they’ll find a way to settle with Masterson before it gets to that point. The monetary differences perhaps aren’t that surprising, but several other high-profile cases already reached agreement points.

The bigger question still remains: Will the former Red Sox starter/reliever, acquired in the infamous 2009 Victor Martinez trade, stay in Cleveland for the long term? A possible deal, starting in 2015, could be for four years and $50-60 million. It’s just a matter of whether the team will be able to strike such a deal before he officially hits the open market.

Also on Friday, the team announced a $1.375 million one-year deal with arbitration-eligible lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski. The 27-year-old, acquired in a trade from St. Louis last July, was estimated to receive a $1.4 million deal, per MLB Trade Rumors. He had a 0.89 ERA in 27 relief appearances for the Indians.

Previously, the team reached an $1.25 million agreement with fellow newly acquired southpaw reliever Josh Outman. Still pending: arbitration filings and updates for outfielder Michael Brantley (Passan update: team $2.7M, player: $3.8M, est: $3.7M), righty Vinnie Pestano and righty Josh Tomlin.

[Related: The Diff: What’s up with Justin Masterson’s Indians future?]

Photo: AP Photo/Reed Saxon

The Qualifier: Can the Indians steal back Ubaldo Jimenez?

Ubaldo JimenezThe waiting……I cant take much more of it. No, I am not talking about the ridiculous and seemingly clueless Browns Head Coaching search. Just get me to Tribe opening day already.

(Let me get it out of the way. If the Browns are indeed waiting on Denver Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase, then fine. I guess. But what happens when the 35-year old decides he doesn’t want the job? Then what?)

OK no more Browns talk. Let me get to the one team in town that actually has a chance to not only get the playoffs, but actually make a run. Yeah. I said it. Why not? Did any of you see 92 wins coming last year? Nope. I know I didn’t. But with Terry Francona at the helm, anything is possible.

Most people think the Indians are all set with their roster. There will be plenty of opportunities on this team to become members of both “The Goon Squad” and the bullpen. The starting rotation seems to be set with the top four guys with three in-house options along with a veteran lottery ticket attempting to be the final piece to the puzzle.

But is there a possibility that the Indians can pull off another late winter surprise?

[Read more...]

Tigers add former Indians outfielders Carrera and Crowe

EzequielOutfielders Ezequiel Carrera and Trevor Crowe signed minor league deals with the Detroit Tigers on Thursday.

The former Cleveland Indians prospects have struggled mostly in their respective major league stints. The agreements today, first reported by FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi, also include an invitation to the team’s spring training. Morosi joked with a #ReverseRaburn in his tweet.

Carrera, 26, was back-and-forth in the Indians organization last year. He was cut in late March as one of the final spring training roster moves. The Philadelphia Phillies and Tribe played waiver claim tag back-and-forth before he returned to his long-time home of Triple-A Columbus in early May. He hit just .248/.312/.346 for the Clippers in 105 games. In his 405 career MLB plate appearances, the speedster has a .251/.306/.339 line.

Crowe, 30, was Cleveland’s first-round pick in 2005. He last was in the organization when he was released from the Clippers roster back in July 2012. He finished that year in the Angels organization, then played most of 2013 with the Houston Astros. He actually hit No. 3 in their order a few times, finishing with a poor .218/.287/.291 line in 60 games. A one-time top prospect, his stock has fizzled gradually since a full season with the Double-A Akron Aeros in 2007.

Despite Morosi’s play on words, Carrera and Crowe offer much less potential than Ryan Raburn did for the Indians on his minor league deal last season. Raburn at least had batted .272/.326/.462 in 488 MLB games from 2007-2011. Now, after a sensational comeback season and signing a two-year contract extension back in August, he’s expected to platoon in right with new addition David Murphy.

[Related: My Cleveland Sportsman of 2013: Mickey Callaway]

Photo: Chuck Crow, The Plain Dealer

Though still unsigned, Ubaldo Jiménez wants $14 million per year

According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the reprentation for Ubaldo Jimenez are telling clubs that he still expects to sign a multi-year deal worth at least $14 million annually.

Jimenez looks to rebound from his rough start in ChicagoAs winter meetings are well in the rear view and spring trainings across the major leagues are set to kick off in just a few weeks, Jiménez remains unsigned after declining his option with the Tribe. Earlier this offseason, it was reported that Jiménez—fresh off of second half that rivaled his 2010 season— was looking for a four-year deal that would pay him somewhere in the neighborhood of $17-20 million per year, but his asking price appears to have been lowered.

Masahiro Tanaka, the highly coveted 25-year-old from Japan, recently arrived in the United States and appears to be the domino that must fall before the rest of the top-tier pitching market starts putting pen to paper. Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 212 innings last summer for Japan’s Rakuten Golden Eagles and is expected to command more than $100 million. His signing deadline is January 24, so it should not be long before players like Jiménez can slot in behind him. The Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, and Yankees have all been mentioned as possible landing spots for the former Indians starter.

The Tribe will at least receive that compensatory first-round draft pick for Jiménez’ past services while hoping that young arms like Trevor Bauer are finally ready for the big leagues.