The Indians made a small move today, acquiring infielder Justin Sellers from the Dodgers for cash considerations. They designated David Cooper for assignment, in order to clear a roster spot for Sellers. While spring training is often riddled with these kind of moves, this one was a bit curious to me for a couple of reasons. First of all, even though he was a long shot to make the team, the Indians seemed kind of high on David Cooper, a former first-round pick. They also have a number of middle infielders either on the roster or competing for spots in camp. The Sellers move adds another to the pile.
Cooper was, at one time, a highly-touted prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. He injured his spine diving back into first base on a play in August 2012. He eventually had a very delicate surgery, one that was even featured in a rather lengthy piece on Cleveland.com earlier this week. Cooper spent time on the Indians roster late last season, but asked for his release after he wasn’t called up to the major league squad. The Tribe re-signed him in December and told him he could compete for a starting spot with the team. Cooper was a long shot to make the team, and could still remain with the Indians if he happens to clear waivers. It just seemed kind of odd to me that there was this “comeback” story with Cooper, he even started in the spring training opener the other day, and he’s designated for assignment less than a week into spring training.
Perhaps it would seem less odd for me for a player other than Justin Sellers. Aside from starters Jason Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera, the Indians already have Mike Aviles and David Adams on the 40-man roster as backups. They also have Elliot Johnson in camp as a non-roster invite, so there seems to be an abundance of middle infielders. Sellers has played 35 games at third base, but that’s dwarfed in comparison to games played at shortstop (608) and second base (170). Could this be a precursor to some other moves? Maybe they felt they needed some minor league depth? Or did Sellers just seem to good to pass up? Since 2011, Sellers has played just 82 games at the big league level with the Dodgers, hitting .188/.263/.246 at the big league level in 2013. His Triple-A numbers were much better in 2013 – .270/.326/.429.
I guess we’ll see if any other moves come out of this, or if David Cooper clears waivers and remains in camp with the Indians. It’s not a major deal, but it is kind of a curious one.