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MLB Storylines: Are any major trades in the Indians future?

MLB Storylines: Are any major trades in the Indians future?
January 21, 2014
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In this MLB News and Notes segment, I will be giving occasional reports on the latest news and rumors throughout the MLB. I also will try to tweet news and rumors as I see them, so feel free to follow me on Twitter: @ajnicholsIBI.

With no major signings or trades occurring on Monday, there are no "Top Stories." Instead, I will give a rundown of all of the day's news and notes.

Here are the stories from Monday, January 20th.

News and Notes

  • Jordan Bastian, Indians beat writer for MLB.com, answered several questions involving trade possibilities in his weekly Indians Inbox. To sum it up, Bastian believes Asdrubal Cabrera will be the Opening Day shortstop, and Justin Masterson will not be traded even if the two sides cannot reach an agreement on a contract extension. Bastian does say that a bad first half of the season could change the thinking of whether or not the Indians should trade Cabrera or Masterson at the trade deadline. He also stated that he does not believe Lonnie Chisenhall will break camp as the everyday third baseman. He thinks Chisenhall could be part of a platoon, but if Santana proves he can play third on an everyday basis, Bastian thinks Chisenhall could be sent back to Triple-A and made available on the trade market.
  • Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweeted that about a half-dozen teams are in on pitcher Chad Gaudin.
  • Cotillo also reported that several teams have contacted the Padres with interest in trading for utilitymanLogan Forsythe.
  • 40-year-old Brett Tomko will throw a bullpen for the Orioles on Friday, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. Tomko has not pitched in the Majors since throwing only 17.2 innings in 2011 with Texas.
  • In our daily Masahiro Tanaka news, Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com said that an industry source believes the Cubs will outbid other teams in both years and dollars in order to obtain the Japanese ace.
  • Jon Morosi of FOX Sports wrote that he believes Tanaka wants to pitch for a winner, and the Cubs would have to overspend to sign him, which is something Cubs ownership does not do, Morosi said.
  • Chris Cotillo tweeted that an agent he spoke to believes the Mariners are a dark horse to sign Tanaka.
  • The Brewers signed Lyle Overbay to a Minor League deal with a Spring Training invite. Milwaukee just agreed to a similar deal with Mark Reynolds over the weekend. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin believes the team may mix and match at first base some in 2014 with Overbay, Reynolds, and Juan Francisco.

User Comments

Hermie13
January 22, 2014 - 3:00 PM EST
@Robert

Hell, I'd take the Steamer projections for Chiz. 15 HRs, a 109 wRC+ and 1.9 WAR...actually not bad numbers for a 3B (sadly).


I get what you're saying but I'm just not quite as optimistic as you on Chiz's value in a trade. I still like him and think he will/can break out this year...but I don't see other teams trading based on how I feel. Fact is Chiz has struggled and looks like a platoon option at best. I'm not sold you'd get a 1st round pick value in return for him if you dealt just him...which is what you give up to sign Morales.

Plus, if you sign Morales, you essentially block Aguliar's path to the bigs. Chiz being around leaves open the door for more ABs for Aguliar at DH when Santana is playing 3B. But with Morales in tow for big money, you can't really justify platooning him.

Chiz + hopefully Aguliar + keeping our 1st round pick to me is greater than signing Morales and dealing Chiz right now. But just my opinion.
2 parts chicken stock 1 part rubber cement
January 21, 2014 - 11:14 PM EST
Chiz almost certainly starts the year as the tribes 3B. His leash is short though.. If he is flailing mid-May they will probably pull his plug. As for who becomes the DH.. Hopefully Aguilar will be pounding on the door by then.
yourtribe
January 21, 2014 - 9:59 PM EST
We must upgrade 3d. Chisenhall is not the answer.
Norm
January 21, 2014 - 9:08 PM EST
I think that Bastien had it right on all counts. The best that can happen from what I see is that the tribe performs well enough to keep AsCab and Masterson all year and each does well and the indians offer both one year deals. Wait and see how 3B plays out.

Tony looks to have the forecast that makes the most sense as far as I can see. Anything is possible but I just don't see the panic that cause most deal proposals.
Robert
January 21, 2014 - 7:45 PM EST
Thanks Hermie! Nice post.

Sure, I'd be VERY happy with Oliver's (264/.317/.450/.767 w/ 22 HR, 114 wRC+, 3.1 fWAR) line from Chisenhall. Let's hope that happens!

That said, a team like the Tribe must always look to sell from a position of strength, and if they think Santana can really play 3B, you have some strength to deal from. In that case it might be fine if Morales is only a marginal improvement over Chisenhall's projection (which we all know is total speculation, since it has never been accomplished), because not only do you get a guy with a pretty decent proven track record, but you then get to use Chisenhall to acquire a young starting pitcher. (of course, the problem there is that it would be selling low on Chisenhall, but still, he'd have significant value to some teams)
Hermie13
January 21, 2014 - 4:05 PM EST
@Robert

Sure I'd probably take Morales's bat over Chiz in 2014...but some people seem to make Morales out as some great hitter. He did hit 22 HRs...in over 650 plate appearances. Chiz hit 11 in just over 300; he actually homered at a higher pace.

And while I'm not one that really believes fully in the "projection" systems out there, I think some would find this interesting

Chiz projections for 2014:
Steamer: .257/.311/.429/.740 w/ 15 HR, 106 wRC+, 1.9 fWAR
Oliver: .264/.317/.450/.767 w/ 22 HR, 114 wRC+, 3.1 fWAR
ZiPS: .258/.307/.413/.720 w/ 13 HR, 2.1 zWAR

Morales projections for 2014:
Steamer: .268/.329/.456/.785 w/ 26 HR, 115 wRC+, 1.3 fWAR
Oliver: .276/.337/.454/.791 w/ 21 HR, 117 wRC+, 1.4 fWAR
ZiPS: .263/.319/.425/.744 w/ 17 HR, 1.3 zWAR


Again, these are just projections and at the end of the day mean nothing....but Morales did only manage a .785 OPS last year and while he did hit 22 HRs, his ISO was actually slightly worse than Chisenhall's. So I guess to answer your question, who would I rather have hitting the middle of the lineup, Morales or Chiz? The answer is neither. Morales is a #6/7 hitter at best in this lineup, Chiz is a #8/9 hitter. I'd rather see Gomes hitting in the middle of the lineup than Morales.
Robert
January 21, 2014 - 2:52 PM EST
Even though I think that Chisenhall will start the year at 3B, Morales could possibly be a legitimate option for the Tribe. The question: who would you rather have in the middle of the lineup, Morales or Chisenhall? If Santana really does look good there (which I have had a hard time believing could be true, but its possible), and if the market dies for Morales and he falls to someone for 3/27, it could make sense to trade Chiz. I don't think that will happen though, and I think that the competition will be good for Chisenhall, who I hope is up for the challenge and will respond.
Jimmy
January 21, 2014 - 2:52 PM EST
After reading everyone thoughts, I would like to offer a new suggestion to the team. Move ACab to third base, put one of three young shortstops at short since we have three very good shortstops in the top ten rating. Leave Jason K on second with Swish on 1B. Move Santana to DH, with idea of shifting the line-up to the starting pitcher's side either right or left. That way Santana would stay in the line-up with his bat and get some major league time on third. I feel Lonnie would make a good utility player until he get right. We should DA him and left some other team pick him up. I feel Michael Brantley should stay in the line-up everyday and needs to be signed long term. The other Michael, depending if having a good year, can be shuffle with one of our young players with speed or Murphy. Jeff F and Ryan could handle right field. Outfield should be defensively solid and have a little speed to cover the gap shots. Now about
Masterson, he showed the team last year what he was about and should be honored with a four year contract for all that. He is just starting to pitch great, why let him go somewhere else. I think we have a good staff and should take care of them for four years or more. By locking up all your good players and not trading them to the Yankees or some other team, we will have a team to build on for a long time. We have the coach, now lets keep the foundation of our team. Don't sign Nelson Cruz or Ubaldo Jimenez or Morales to use them for one year and bye.
Stay with the young players who are better and fast and many years youngers.
Hermie13
January 21, 2014 - 1:29 PM EST
@BrianM

The Tribe may not employ a full-time DH...but Francona had one in Boston for several years with David Ortiz, so don't think you can really say a Francona-led team will never have one.
Walter
January 21, 2014 - 1:21 PM EST
I think we will see Santana playing at 3B, 1B, DH and catcher during the year. I don't think there is a hole at DH. Many players from Santana to Rayburn will be at DH during the year.
BrianM
January 21, 2014 - 1:14 PM EST
If Santana becomes a full time 3B, we would need to add another catcher. That's not something I want to do.

We are not signing Morales. I doubt a Francona team will ever employ a full time DH, other than a Giambi type that only plays a fifth of the games.

Don't trade Chiz yet. He turned it on at the end of last year.
Robert
January 21, 2014 - 11:57 AM EST
I agree w Hermie. Chisenhall will start the year at 3B. Maybe Santana gets to field against some LH'ers, but IMO that's about it.
Hermie13
January 21, 2014 - 10:46 AM EST
My issue with signing Morales beyond the fact that you lose a pick for a guy that simply is not very good is that it means you're either platooning Morales (if you give up a pick you can't platoon the guy) or Santana is playing 3B 120 or so games next year, maybe more....which again, may just not be possible at all. A guy can look good in spring training/winter ball then just fall flat in the regular season (offensively or defensively).


Honestly if I was giving up a pick for an offensive player I'd rather it be for Stephen Drew. Can move Cabrera for something and let Drew play short. Upgrades that position and if Lindor becomes ready at some point you could slide Drew to 3B, something he's telling teams he's willing to do. Not saying I would do this if I'm Cleveland but would prefer him to Morales or Cruz.
Hermie13
January 21, 2014 - 10:42 AM EST
I will say this Tony....

If Chiz is out of the picture (either AAA/traded or whatever)...maybe you platoon Santana at 3B but against RH pitching, not LH.

Aviles or Adams could play 3B against lefties then and Santana can move to DH (or catch some and Gomes DH). When Santana is playing 3B against a RHP you could DH Giambi, Cooper, and/or Raburn. Maybe a combo of Giambi/Raburn (Giambi can't play every time a RH is on the mound and while Raburn hit righties well last year, shouldn't play every single day).


One big issue with this idea though is that there are a lot more RH starting pitchers out there, which means Santana would be playing a ton of 3B, which may not be possible...
Willie
January 21, 2014 - 10:13 AM EST
I think there is a very real possibility the Tribe takes advantage of a late signing. There are still a number of talented FA remaining and a cpl appear ready for a tumble much like last yr (RSoriano, Lohse).

I could see a scenario where Tanaka signs with the Dodgers, and Jimenez signs with the Yankees. The Tribe would gain a comp pk for losing Jimenez in the 30's worth somewhat offsetting the cash value of the Indians own pk in the mid 20's. The Tribe also holds a competitive lottery pick likely to fall in the 40's further helping offset the potential loss of their 1st rd pick. In such a case I think the Tribe could jump in on someone like Kendrys Morales, maybe for something like 3/33 or even 4/40 would get Morales. I wouldn't be shocked to see Morales sign for as little as 4/32, personally I don't see him as much better than Omar Infante who signed for similar.

I know it's unlikely, but there is a possibility the Tribe looks to make a move late to take advantage of a unique opportunity, if given the chance.
Willie
January 21, 2014 - 9:47 AM EST
At this point it seems likely the Tribe will keep ACab and Masterson (even on a 1yr deal) around. However, I don't think we can rule out the possibility the Tribe adds another arm. In that case, depending on the nature of the addition, I think we could see the Tribe make a move. I really don't think they'll make a parallel type move, that is, signing Paul Maholm or even Jason Hammel and then trading away ACab. But I do think it could be the case if Jimenez, or Garza fall into a favorable position for the Tribe to sign. Then it becomes about financial flexibility and value, but the Tribe could always offset a deal by back loading it.

Overall, I won't be surprised to see the Tribe make a significant signing. But it remains unlikely. I think they may have some money to spend even after the arb cases. If it appears likely that Masterson won't resign and they land one of Garza or Jimenez there is a real possibility they flip Masterson before the start of the season.
Tony
January 21, 2014 - 9:45 AM EST
A one year deal for Nelson Cruz or Ubaldo Jimenez makes zero sense for them. If they have a good year, then they are right back in this position next year as a player extended a qualifying offer and struggling to find a fit with someone. It is why Bourn and Lohse last offseason settled to long term deals that paid them a lower amount per year. They preferred the long term security over the limitations that a one year deal provides.
Johnny
January 21, 2014 - 9:41 AM EST
Unless the tribe sweeps in and signs nelson cruz to a 1 year deal, ala juan gonzalez.
Tony
January 21, 2014 - 9:27 AM EST
Yeah, I wonder the same thing Hermie. Not sure I agree with how Santana can become the regular 3B as it effectively ends any chance for Chisenhall with the club unless they have other plans with him to play other positions because sending him to Triple-A will do him no good. He has to prove himself at the ML level. So if Santana is the regular at third base, then it would to me imply that one of three things has happened....Chisenhall is traded, the Indians sign or trade for a proven DH-type, or Jesus Aguilar is part of the opening day plans. All of those seem like a reach at this point....so it will be interesting to see just what exactly happens this spring once all the media descends upon Goodyear and all of the true intentions are (mostly) known.
Hermie13
January 21, 2014 - 8:48 AM EST
I find it hard to believe Chisenhall doesn't break camp as the starting 3B.

Even if Santana looks good enough at 3B, you just create a hole at the DH spot....which Chisenhall seems best suited to fill. But then the question is why play Santana at 3B and DH Chiz? Unless there's another move coming this winter, Chiz is breaking camp as the Tribe 3B. Sure maybe it's as a platoon, but there are far more righties out there so Chiz will see the bulk of the time at 3B.

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