Indians

MLB Rumors: Quick-Hitting the Indians’ Winter Meetings

This is a rough time of year for the employed baseball fan.

First, there are no matinee games to get us down to the ballpark and out of the office on Wednesday afternoons.  Which, I think we can all agree, sucks eggs.

But second, the Winter Meetings seem to be taking place DURING NORMAL WORKING HOURS, which means I can’t follow my twitter feed quite as closely as I’d prefer.  It also means my nights are spent scrolling through e-reams of tweets to find out what the heck is happening on the Hot Stove.

From what I can gather, here’s what’s been happening on the Indians’ front.

  1. It seems more and more likely that we’re going to use a trade to add a bat, rather than a free agent signing.  This seems both wise and necessary.  Outside of Pujols and Fielder—and yes, we are decidedly OUTSIDE of Pujols and Fielder—there just aren’t a bunch of free agents who’ve caught my eye this season who make a lot of sense for the Indians.  This strategy could mean you don’t see much movement before the meetings end, since the trade market typically picks up after the free agent market has died down.  Mark Shapiro tweeted as much last night.
  2. The Astros approached the Indians about trading Carlos Lee.  The catch was that we’d be on the hook for $9 million of Carlos Lee’s 2012 salary (he’s owed $18 million; the Astros would pay the remaining $9 million).  To me, that’s a steep price for a 36 year old guy whose sole value comes from his bat—a bat that hasn’t produced an OPS above .800 since 2009.  And that’s without knowing what we’d be expected to send to Houston in a trade.  Right now, this looks fairly unlikely, but the market will change quite a bit over the next week.
  3. In addition to Casey Blake and Mark DeRosa, the Indians are apparently in on Casey Kotchman.  File this under: rumors that just won’t go away.  I believe our front office really likes Kotchman.  I do not like him as an upgrade over Matt LaPorta.  It’s true that Kotchman was decent in 2011 (.800 OPS).  It’s also true that he was terrible in 2010, has no power, bats left handed, and is two and a half years older than LaPorta.  I got into this on twitter the other night, but IF FORCED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN THE TWO, I’d rather bet on LaPorta’s (albeit slight) upside than Kotchman’s assured mediocrity.  In other words, it doesn’t feel like the kind of high-upside gamble we need, even if Kotchman probably is a better overall player than LaPorta.  (Although, I would point out that LaPorta’s 2012 projections are better than Kotchman’s, for whatever that’s worth.)
  4. It appears that if the Marlins acquire Albert Pujols, they will make Gaby Sanchez available, most likely for starting pitching.  First, I can’t believe I wrote a sentence about the Marlins signing Albert Pujols.  Gross.  But second, Paul Cousineau mentioned this as a possibility several months ago, and I admit: I didn’t see it coming at all.  If I were the Marlins, there’s no way I’d give up a cheap, young, good bat who’s under club control for FOUR MORE YEARS for a mid- to back-of-the-rotation pitcher.  But that’s apparently what they’re considering if they can get their Hombre.  So, um, don’t buy your new Josh Tomlin jersey just yet.  For the record, I’d swap Tomlin for Sanchez in a heartbeat, if it comes to that.  I’d even throw in a bullpen arm not named Vinnie to make it happen.
  5. Chris Antonetti said this to Jordan Bastian: the Tribe has one trade proposal that “you guys wouldn’t believe.  I could probably give you 50 guesses & you wouldn’t get it.”  I hate that he said this to a reporter.  It’s complete manipulation of the basest sort.  It’s designed to promote interest, which I totally get.  It’s also designed to provoke speculation and mouth-breathing e-gasms, which I can generally do without.  As I emailed to Rick last night, until I hear otherwise, I assume it’s a deal to add Jason Michaels’ mulletted step-brother.  You heard it here first.

  • PNR

    God I love baseball. Thank you Jon.

    p.s. I think it should be: “I’d even *throw* in a bullpen arm not named Vinnie to make it happen.”

  • Stinkfist

    Is it like the trade where we gave up our top two pitching prospects for a questionably healthy and one year wonder picther? I couldn’t believe that trade

  • christopher

    Tomlin and Raffy or Sipp for Sanchez in a heartbeat as well.

    Totally agree the Antonetti comment is completely high school…”Oh you wouldnt believe what Sheila said to Debbie in the bathroom yesterday, oh. my god. Even if i gave you like uhm, 50 guesses, you’d like totally never guess”

  • Max

    the trade offer we cant believe is probably something like Carlos Lee for Carlos and Asdrubal

  • -bobby-

    CC for Ubaldo??

  • While we all knew that the Tribe would never be in the market for Pujols, the fact that he may actually leave St. Louis is not a good sign.

    If the Cardinals can’t keep their high-profile, high-price free agent, how in the world will the Indians ever be able to do the same (if they ever have someone they want to keep that falls into that category).

    I mean, we pretty much knew the Tribe can’t/won’t spend big money, but the illusion was always there that they could. Now we may not even have that to hold on to anymore.

  • JBlair

    I would love if they could swing somwething with the Nationals to get Michael Morse

  • Max

    @Titus- I think that illusion flew the coop with the CC and Cliff Lee trades.

  • @jogantt

    +1 on your 5th bullet point.

  • Ghost

    Really like the idea of adding Carlos Lee, but not if we’re on the hook for 9 million.

  • stin4u

    The Antonetti comment does nothing to inspire any confidence, for me at least. To me it smacks of:

    “HEY I KNOW IT’S TOTES FOOTBALL SEASON BUT THERE IS A BASEBALL TEAM TOO AND WERE GOING TO DO SOME STUFF AND IT’S PROBABLY GOING TO BE UNDERWHELMING BUT WHATEVES PAY ATTENTION”

    My guess would be a proposed deal for Sanchez with the Marlins should they actually land Pujols. That would excite me but, I cant think of too many more realistic scenarios that would make my jaw drop.

    Also, I hear the Mariners are the leading candidate for Fielder, what about Justin Smoak? He didn’t have a great year last year but he’s still a few years younger than LaPorta and might develop into something.

  • dwhit110

    Remember yesterday on a thread on this site when I mentioned dealing Tomlin for Sanchez and everybody told me that I was crazy, overvaluing Tomlin and would have to include Gomez too, which ruined our pitching depth?

    Yeah, me neither.

  • mgbode

    I still am surprised that a 32yo Pujol’s is getting a 10yr contract. I mean, it’s been known for awhile, but he’s going to be 42 years old at the end of it. Does either team really think he’ll be worth $22mil+/season by then?

  • Harv 21

    The tribe would jump at that deal but don’t see why the Marlins would. Josh Tomlin is coming off a season-ending arm injury and is not exactly a proven commodity. Signing Pujols would put them on the financial razor’s edge but they’d have to sign Raffy or risk losing him soon. Think Marlins could get a safer return on Sanchez elsewhere.

  • Matt

    LOL @stin4u, as soon as I read bullet point #5, I immediately thought to myself: “Hmm, we haven’t fleeced Seattle in awhile…”

    So my guess is:
    Justin Smoak (SEA-1B) and Dustin Ackley (SEA-2B) for Cord Phelps (CLE-2B).

    If we get it right in the first 50 guesses, will Antonetti send the winner a prize?

  • NJ

    Please say we’re bringing in Yonder Alonso.

    I’ve also read that more than a few teams have inquired about Chris Perez. And my, my, what an amazingly great closer he is. It sure would suck if we had to deal him and some parts for a real first baseman. How would I ever get to sleep tonight knowing Chris Perez is no longer in our bullpen? Mr. MLB GM, please don’t give us something of value for Chris Perez!

    re: Antonetti – I have no problem with him saying that with the caveat that the deal then has to get done. Don’t tease us and then do nothing.

    re: Carlos Lee – I agree with Ghost. I’m not against him, but not for $9M. Heck, even at $5M I’d consider him a bottom of the barrel option.

    re: Pujols – No guy is worth their contract by year ten, at least in terms of production on-the-field. I guess the hope is that three or four playoff appearances and maybe a WS win in the first six years will offset the cost in year seven through ten.

  • Ghost

    Carlos Lee makes a lot of sense for this team if the price comes down. He can play left, he can play 1st base, he can platoon with Hafner at DH. His zone ratings in the field were decent last season, his power numbers while not overwhelming were above average. He makes a lot of sense for this team as a 1 year rental. Maybe the price comes down and we can add him, that is if we cant pull off a trade for a Gaby Sanchez type. And I dont see that happening because I dont think Pujols will go to Miami. But we shall see. Maybe Albert will take his talents to South Beach as well.

  • mgbode

    @NJ – which is why you shouldn’t do 10yr contracts. but, the odds of a fall in production mid-contract for a guy getting into his mid-to-late 30s is pretty customary.

    if Pujols was 26, then I’d be okay with taking the risk. at 32? umm, no, I do not think it is wise.

  • NJ

    I agree. I just would prefer getting some youth who we will control for a few years over dropping $5M-S7M for one year of a guy closer to forty than thirty. Lee did have a solid 2011, but he also had an awful 2010.

    I also remember reading that he has a no-clause, but apparently that was only good through 2010.

  • NJ

    So lets say the Indians were about to sign Pujols to 10 years/$220M. You would be against it?

    I will say this in favor of Pujols – he is very dedicated to his game and is in the type of shape that makes you think he can age better than most.

    What surprises me is that he’ll be on a contract at 42 in, most likely, the NL. No DHing for him.

  • 5KMD

    NJ,

    The tribe would not be able to afford the necessary parts to put around Pujols to be competitive so, no, I would not do that deal.

    And I would do the Pujols deal 10 times before I wuld give Reyes 100 million over 6 years.

  • mgbode

    @NJ – yes, I would be against it. I thought the Mauer deal was dumb of the Twins and he’s younger and can move to 1B at some point (or should have already) and they were moving into a new ballpark. So, I definitely would believe the Indians would be foolish for considering a deal like this one.

  • Josh

    Agreed with NJ on Pujols. Sure Pujols won’t be worth 22 million (or whatever the final yearly value comes to) at age 42, but he will likely be worth much more than 22 million (relatively speaking) for the first half of the contract, both in terms of production and attendance. The Marlins would come out ahead for most of the first half of the contract, and behind for the second half. And if they get a WS ring or two in the process, they come out way ahead.

    Plus, at the end of the deal when the production will have likely fallen off considerably, he will be chasing several significant records, which will keep his attendance value very high.

  • Josh

    mg, the Mauer deal and the Pujols deal aren’t comparable. A significant portion of Mauers value is gone if he moves off of catcher, Pujols doesn’t have that risk. Not to mention how much greater Mauers injury history was and how much greater Pujols track record of production is.

  • mgbode

    @Josh – and Mauer will only be 35 when his deal ends, not 42.

    they are both huge contracts with players who can potentially and realistically decrease in value due to health, position-switch (which would be due to health for Mauer), or age (or any combination).

    considering both deals will likely handcuff the teams that sign them for the forseeable future, I think there is some merit in the comparison.

  • mgbode

    also, Mauer played in at least 130 games in 5 of his 6 seasons before he signed his 8yr deal (which is good for a catcher)

    he also had a OPS+ 134 or above in 4/6 seasons (including a ridiculous 170 in 2009). And both seasons below were in the first 3 full seasons in MLB.

    he also had 4 silver slugger awards and 3 gold gloves.

  • Josh

    Pujols’ OPS+ is 40 points higher than Mauers. That means when Pujols begins to decline, he will decline to Mauers peak level. So the age difference doesn’t really mean anything here.

    And while 130 games played may be good for a catcher, it’s not for a first baseman, which is what Mauer’s future almost certainly is.

    So Pujols is a FAR better player (especially once Mauer is no longer a catcher), has FAR less risk of injury and has FAR more attendance value at the end of the contract due to chasing milestones Mauer has no chance to be chasing. Plus, Pujols contract will likely be slightly less per year. And unlike the Twins, the Marlins are showing they plan to spend huge money on other players, not just one.

    So I stand by that the two contracts aren’t remotely comparable, other than from a pure length/dollars perspectice.

  • Ghost

    Mauer’s contract made sense at the time, but that might go down as the worst contract in MLB history. Mauer is already at a point where he will probably be a 1B/DH full time. That and he doesnt hit for a ton of power, imagine paying Victor Martinez 23 million a year. Yikes!

  • Tim

    @dwhit110

    I dont think Jon saying “For the record, I’d swap Tomlin for Sanchez in a heartbeat, if it comes to that.” means the Marlins would take Tomlin for Sanchez. In fact if an Indians fan would make the deal in a heartbeat if probably means we are giving up to little in the proposed deal.

    Now, Tomlin + Gomez… I am fine with doing that deal and maybe Miami would be too, I dont know.

  • NJ

    @23- That’s how I feel. He provides on-field value, puts butts in the seats now, and will put butts in the seat later.

    Pujols actually, imo, makes more sense for the Marlins than he does for the Cards. STL always draws, but for FLA, with the new park and all, they have a chance to really create a fanbase while competing. For them, I think he’d be worth every penny.

    To answer my own question, while I don’t think Pujols fits with the current Indians team (and obviously isn’t even an option), I would have no problem with a hypothetical Indians team where we spend $60m-70m on payroll with Pujols eating up $22M of it. For example, I’d take a team where you took out Hafner and Carmona to add Pujols. We’d have holes, but I think Pujols is the kind of player who would fill them.

    I guess it just goes to a bigger issue I have with Cleveland sports: outside of Lebron James and Big Z, we really haven’t had any really good, long-term franchise players. You have to go back to the 90’s Indians to find them. And heck, if the current Indians are going to suck three out of every four years, we may as well be able to call a guy like Pujols our own.

  • REEPJP

    What about Michael Young of the Rangers? Didn’t he want out of there all of last year? Sure, he was a beast for them all year as a DH, but I think he’d be a pretty decent option for this team with his position flexibility (He’s played all 4 INF spots throughout his career). He’s not the youngest guy in the world, but I could see the Rangers parting with him for someone like Cord Phelps and one of our younger pitchers (Tomlin or Gomez)…especially since CJ Wilson is bouncing.

  • REEPJP

    Whoa…didn’t realize he was making 16 mil the next 2 years….probably not gonna get our guys up top to sign off on that one AND unloading 2 cheap prospects

  • Tim

    Really Tomlin and Phelps for Young, I doubt the Rangers would do that. I wish they would though!

  • Ghost

    Cord Phelps was pretty awful last year, I doubt he has much if any trade value.

  • REEPJP

    ….you guys are right…..do we still have Marte to sweeten the pot? haha The post was more about how a trade for Michael Young would make sense for us….not who/what the Rangers would deem as acceptable compensation

  • Tim

    REEPJP

    Absolutely, he would look great in a tribe jersey. I guess my overall point is that too many fans think trades are easy to do. First of all, the other team wants to ‘win’ the deal too and of course has to even want to do the deal. And fans tend to really overvalue their teams talent because they are exposed to those players all the time. People hear that so and so is allegedly avaliable and they dont understand why the GM cant simply pick up the phone and offer prospects that are only mediocre. Not trying to single you our REEPJP, I really hope that the Tribe could get someone like young!

  • Shamrock

    Marlins got Buehrle now do the Indians know they can sign guys? Oh wait my bad Cleveland doesn’t participate in free agency, in any sport.

  • mgbode

    glad Buehrle is out of the AL. he has just killed us over the years.