With Opening Day just over a week away, this is the time that we finally start to see the official 25-man roster take shape. The Indians have made a number of decisions, and are working toward the final cuts and additions this week. Here are some of the moves that have happened in the last couple of days, along with a few additional thoughts.
Released Jeff Francoeur. Prior to spring training, I didn’t think Francoeur really had a chance at making the roster. Even though his spring numbers haven’t been spectacular, I thought he may have a chance after I saw him play last week. In part, because nobody has really blown everyone out of the water this spring (think Ryan Raburn’s performance last year). Francoeur was likely released to give him a chance to catch on with another team. Unless someone is decimated by injuries, or someone is interested in using him as a placeholder to keep from starting a young player’s service clock (I’m thinking the Cubs or the Astros), Francoeur may be destined for someone’s Triple-A squad, or a team in Asia. I’m not saddened by Francoeur’s release. He’s always shown solid defensive skills, and relatively poor offensive skills…there are other decent options in camp. As much as I like him, this was definitely the right move.
David Adams designated for assignment, claimed by the Orioles. I was less than impressed by Adams this spring, although a friend pointed out to me that his numbers weren’t quite as bad as I perceived (.281/.342/.313). I thought he may be destined for a roster spot simply based upon the fact that he was in camp on a major league deal, as compared to the guys on minor league deals with spring training invites. Here’s a bit of an Adams fun fact for you – last year he served in a utility role with the New York Yankees. My friend is a native New Yorker, and partial season ticket holder at Yankee Stadium. I asked her for her thoughts on David Adams. She did not remember him…at all. In her defense, (as she mentioned) there were tons of players to cycle through the Yankees roster last season. Anyway, I’m not sad that the Indians decided to go with someone other than Adams.
Elliot Johnson added to the 40-man roster, will make Opening Day squad. It seemed like an additional utility position would go to either Adams or Johnson, with the newly acquired Justin Sellers as the dark horse; in the end Johnson wins the spot. He had a decent second half last season, after he ended up with the Atlanta Braves in August (.261/.317/.359). This spring Johnson hit .333/.378/.619 so he definitely earned the position. I thought Sellers had some great moments as well, but it looks like he will start the season at Triple-A Columbus. Jordan Bastian of MLB.com also reported this morning that Johnson is the emergency catcher if both Yan Gomes and Carlos Santana should go down in the same game. I thought Matt Treanor may have an outside chance of making the team as a backup catcher, although that could be considered a questionable move to give a 39-year-old a valuable roster spot when Johnson could catch in a pinch. Plus Treanor is currently expected to miss about 2-3 weeks with a strained hamstring.
Aaron Harang will not get the fifth starting spot. This morning the Indians announced that they informed Harang he would not make the Opening Day roster. Harang has a chance to opt out of his contract by Monday, but he could decide to stay and take an assignment at Triple-A Columbus. If he did that, he’d earn a $100,000 bonus and could opt out by June 1 if he hasn’t been added to the major league roster. That means that final spot will go to Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, or Josh Tomlin. I liked what I saw from Tomlin while I was in Arizona, but I’m sure there are other factors the Indians are taking into account (who is out of options, etc.). I actually predicted Tomlin would win the spot in our preseason predictions (if Shaun Marcum’s rehab did not progress as quickly as I thought). And speaking of Marcum, just remember- he is now throwing in minor league games. If his recovery continues to progress, he could be an option down the road in the case of injuries or other issues.
Francona has yet to decide how many relievers he will carry, although it has been confirmed that Vinnie Pestano made the Opening Day squad. Nyger Morgan was told that he’s still in the mix for a roster spot; his fate will likely lie with the number of relievers on the Opening Day roster. Matt Carson was already informed that he will not make the roster, and will start the season in Columbus.