Indians acquire Canzler from Rays
January 31, 2012
On Tuesday morning the Indians announced that they acquired infielder/outfielder Russ Canzler from the Tampa Bay Rays for cash considerations. The Rays had designated him for assignment on January 27th after they signed infielder Jeff Keppinger, and he is now on the Indians 40-man roster. He assumed the spot vacated by Fausto Carmona who was put on the restricted list last week.
Canzler, 25, was the MVP this past season of the International League at Triple-A Durham. Last season he hit .314 (149-for-474) with 40 doubles, 4 triples, 18 home runs, 83 RBI and .931 OPS in 131 games. He was a midseason and postseason All Star and led the the league in doubles (40) and slugging pct. (.530), finished tied for second in runs (78), third in hits (149), fourth in batting average (.314), fifth in RBI (83) and second in on-base pct. (.401) and total bases (251). He showed some versatility last season as he appeared in 41 games in right field, 33 games in left field, 40 games at third base and 17 games at first. He made his Major League debut with the Rays in September and went 1-for-3 in 3 games (1RBI, 1BB).
Canzler was originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 30th round of the 2004 Draft out of Hazleton Area High School (PA). After a seven year minor league career with the Cubs he signed with the Rays last offseason as a free agent. For his minor league career he is a .280 hitter (698-for-2490) with 172 doubles, 23 triples, 84 homer and 405 RBI in 738 games.
Canzler is a depth option and has some potential as a corner utility player. While his 2011 season and MVP are nice to see, they mean very little as he is not valued highly in the industry. His defense is questionable, and the fact the Cubs let him go as a free agent last year and now the Rays let him go for only cash show how limited his future may be. He could be a late bloomer like a Casey Blake, or just another defensive challenged offensive player stuck in Triple-A like Jordan Brown.
Canzler has all three of his options remaining, so he should provide depth at several positions this year at Triple-A and in the big leagues, and he could end up being a good buy low pickup for the Indians. With that in mind, even with his impressive performance the past two years expectations should be tempered and he should be viewed nothing more than a depth option until he shows otherwise.
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Follow Tony and the Indians Prospect Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2013 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.