As the Cleveland Indians continue to avoid the MLB free agency period to the best of their abilities, Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer reported this weekend that Mark Shapiro has his eye on veteran outfielder Jermaine Dye.
The 36-year old Dye is a right-handed bat, something that the Indians have been looking for all off-season. The two main issues in Dye’s game (three, if you choose to count his age) are the fact that he regressed mightily during the second half of last season and has diminishing skills in the outfield. Considering that the Indians have one of the younger, quicker outfields in the American League, adding Dye to the mix would not help keep opposing runs off of the board. Pluto did hint that the Indians could use Dye’s services at first base to give Matt LaPorta a break or would provide a compliment to Travis Hafner in the event that his shoulder is not up to par.
Despite hitting over 25 home runs in each of the last five seasons, 2009 saw a considerable drop in Dye’s batting average. Hitting .292 in 2008, Dye hit at a .250 clip last season thanks to .179/.293/.297 after the All-Star break. As a saving grace, Dye’s BABIP was a very unlucky .195, so there may be some potential for a rebound. The bigger hurdle will likely come in the form of the actual contract as the Indians are looking for a one-year deal or one of a minor league contract with an invite to camp. Unless Dye were to get zero offers between now and the start of camp (13 days until pitchers and catcher report), it would be fairly unlikely that a guy who was among the MVP voting twice in the last four years would settle for a minor league deal with a rebuilding franchise.
Other names that Pluto mentioned were former Indians slugger/third baseman Russell Branyan and outfielder Jonny Gomes. Names like Jon Garland and Orlando Hudson were considered, but the team does not have room for an additional $5 million within their budget. It should also be noted that the Indians will likely enter 2010 with the lowest payroll in the AL Central with $65 million, coming in $15 million shy of the Kansas City Royals who will have $80 million on their books.
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