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

  • Pat Leonard

    LaHair – LaPorta, what’s the difference besides a couple of letters? Actually, I guess you never know… the ability is still there with LaHair… maybe he just needs the right coach.

  • mgbode

    I thought it was the Cavs who signed La Hair (aka Andrew Bynum).

  • Kildawg

    More filler for Columbus/Akron; could function as a mentor for Jesus Aguilar to prepare him better for the majors. Every team makes these moves, therefore don’t overreact Cleveland fans!

  • CityOfSadness

    Indians might not have any huge holes to fill, but they needed to make moves. We had a extremely mediocre offense which was proven in wild card game. Losing 2 from our starting rotation didn’t help either.

  • Wow

    I keep hoping Bourne and Swisher just had an off year and bounce back.

  • Ed Carroll


    (And more serously, minus one to Jacob for neglicting to toss a Jim Bowden dig in there. Damnit, Jacob, cater to my sense of humour!!)

  • Ed Carroll

    Also, exhibit number 1,000 why all-star appearances are meaningless.