Probably one of the biggest Indians-related developments of the offseason took place yesterday when Scott Kazmir signed a 2-year, $22 million deal with the Oakland Athletics.  While it seemed a long shot that he may return, I held out hope that the Indians may be able to come to an agreement with last year’s reclamation project.  I figured that Kazmir would probably get a 2-year deal from someone, but expected the total dollar amount to be closer to $14 million.  I actually have mixed feelings about Kazmir’s departure.  While I liked him, and wanted to see him return, I think that dollar amount is just too much for a small market club to pay.  When you’re a large market team, you can take a gamble and overpay on a risky player because you’re better able to absorb the loss.  That’s what made it kind of peculiar that the team to take this risk was the notoriously frugal Oakland Athletics.  After reading this piece at Fangraphs by Dave Cameron, it made a bit more sense to me, but it was still kind of a surprise, though.  If Kazmir got that dollar amount, I kind of shudder at what Ubaldo Jimenez will get and which team will give it to him.

The Indians tendered contracts to all of the players on the 40-man, except for outfielder Matt Carson, RHP Tyler Cloyd, and catcher Lou Marson (Cloyd was already designated for assignment to make room on the roster for David Murphy).  None of those names are extremely surprising to me, plus you have to consider that a non-tender doesn’t necessarily mean the player won’t be back.  It could mean that the Indians want to cut ties, but it also could mean that they just think the player would make too much in arbitration.  By non-tendering them and letting them become free agents, you run the risk of another team outbidding you for their services.  However, if you’re able to negotiate a new deal with them, you could end up saving a considerable amount of money.  The Indians already avoided arbitration with two relief pitchers – Frank Herrmann and Blake Wood will both earn $560,000 in 2014.

Indians-related rumors:

- According to Buster Olney, the Indians, Mariners, Blue Jays, and Twins are supposedly all interested in Oakland’s lefty pitcher Brett Anderson.  Anderson is set to earn $8 million in 2014, and has an option for the 2015 season that’s worth $12 million.  While this is a deal that could make a lot of sense for the Indians, depending on the player they would send to Oakland, I’m still a bit confused from Oakland’s perspective.  If they already had Anderson under control for the next two years, why would they bother with Kazmir?  Even though Anderson had a terrible 2013 (6.04 ERA, 1.61 WHIP) he’s only a year removed from a very solid 2012, where he had a 2.57 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP and he’ll be just 26-years-old in February.  Either they felt he would be unable to reproduce his prior good seasons, or they felt that they could better fill other holes on the roster via trades, rather than through free agent signings.  Kazmir comes with a certain degree of risk as well, although they obviously felt more secure with him.  With so many teams interested in Anderson (supposedly the Blue Jays are “infatuated” with him) it may drive his price up, even though he looked to be a solid buy-low candidate.

- The Indians may desire a reunion with reliever Edward Mujica; they are supposedly one of four teams interested in the 29-year-old reliever.  Mujica, who last pitched for the Indians in 2008, had a 2.08 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP with St. Louis last season.

Around the AL Central:

- The already busy Detroit Tigers made several more moves – trading Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals and signing free agent Joe Nathan to a two-year deal.  In return for Fister, the Tigers received pitching prospect Robbie Ray, utility infielder Steve Lombardozzi, and reliever Ian Krol.  It’s not too surprising that the Tigers moved one of their starting pitchers; there were already rumors that they may try to trade Cy Young winner Max Scherzer this winter.  I am a little bit surprised by the return they received from the Nationals.  Ray, while a promising 22-year-old prospect, has never pitched above Double A.  Detroit has struck me as a “win now at all costs” kind of team, so it just seemed odd that they traded a veteran for a prospect.  It may mean that the Tigers plan to make another big splash in the free agent market (outside of Nathan) since they’ve obviously freed up a great deal of salary by trading Prince Fielder and Doug Fister, and cutting ties with Jhonny Peralta.  Nathan should be a huge help to the back end of their bullpen, something that has been their Achilles heel over the past couple of seasons.  He’s coming off a fantastic season with the Rangers, where he had a 1.39 ERA and an 0.89 WHIP, and he’s always been tough on Indians hitters – lifetime the Tribe is batting just .200/.251/.395 off of Nathan, and he has a 3.97 ERA against them.  The Indians only faced him for one inning last season, but Nathan pitched a perfect inning.

- The Twins have had a fairly busy week as well, trying to shore up a rotation that was one of the worst in baseball last season (even though their bullpen put together some decent numbers).  They signed Ricky Nolasco to a four-year, $49 million deal, the largest free agent deal the Twins have ever given anyone (Joe Mauer’s mega-deal was technically an extension since he never hit free agency).  They also signed former Yankee Phil Hughes to a three-year, $24 million deal.  Let’s start with the Hughes signing – I figured that Hughes may get $7 or $8 million from someone this offseason, but I figured it would be on a one-year deal.  That way it gave Hughes a chance to reestablish his value, and it minimized risk for the team signing him.  I never thought someone would give him three years and I can’t help but think this was a bad idea.  Unless they think they’ve figured out a way to help fix Hughes, they just spent a lot of money on a guy that has really struggled and has lost his spot in the rotation several times over the past couple of years.  The Nolasco deal is a bit more reasonable, since he’s been a bit more consistent, but I would still be hesitant to give that kind of money to what I consider an “average” starter that will be 31 when the season starts.

- Minnesota was also supposedly considering a reunion with catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who departed from the Twins in one of the best baseball trades of the 2000s – Pierzynski to the Giants for Francisco Liriano, Joe Nathan, (and Boof Bonser, who gets some bonus points for having the name “Boof”).  It turns out that Pierzynski just signed a deal with the Red Sox, and now the Twins are supposedly looking at former Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia instead.  Since they plan to move Joe Mauer to first base pretty much full time, they need to find someone to take over the majority of the catching duties.  It likely means that they won’t be interested in a reunion with Justin Morneau either.

The winter meetings start soon (December 9-12 in Orlando, Florida) so you can expect the hot stove to really heat up over the next week or two.  Even today there has been a flurry of activity, and we’re likely to see an uptick in free agent signings and trades.  Even if the Indians aren’t directly involved in something, the ripple effect of some of these deals is still likely to affect them in some way.

 

12 Comments

  • The Doctor says:

    signing mujica would be overpaying for the saves he accumulated last season. really hope we don’t do that.

    • Stephanie Liscio says:

      If he’s cheap, I’d be okay with it. With four teams competing for him, I doubt he’ll be cheap…in that case, pass.

  • medfest says:

    Kazmir at 11 million for two years is just too risky for the Tribe.The same could be said for Brett Anderson at 21 million over two years,so why would the Indians trade for him?
    Kazmir was awesome at times last season,Cy Young awesome,the A’s obviously were tantalized and with the Johnson deal ,seem to be going all in this season.
    Still Kazmir had to be shut down twice during last season with a “tired arm” so proceeding with caution would seem to be warranted.

    The Tribe’s payroll is around 82 million with Stubbs and Cabrera.The only way they’re going to add more than 3 or 4 million to the payroll is if they trade one or both of them.
    This team drew less than 1.6 million fans last season with an 80 million dollar payroll.I don’t see them wanting to go much above that.
    They spent the extra TV money last season(hence the back loaded contracts for Bourn and Swisher) I would be shocked if they sign anyone for more than 2 or 3 million a year.And if they trade for someone it’ll be for a guy making pre arbitration bucks.

    Fister getting traded for a bucket of chicken(Lombardozzi?really?)is great news for Tribe fans.This is a beyond stupid move.

    Nathan going to Detroit will help them quite a bit,but the Tribe has hit him hard in the recent past.Should be quite interesting.

    The Twins are paying 20 million a year for two pitchers I wouldn’t want in my starting rotation at all at for more than 12 million. More good news for Tribe fans!

    Pierczynski signs for 8.25 million for one year with the Sawx….makes Murphy look like a bargain eh?

    The Rays trading for Heath Bell,the 9 million a year meatball thrower is a puzzler as well.

    Is it just me or have there been an inordinate amount of questionable moves already?Some of these are real head scratchers.

    • Stephanie Liscio says:

      I have to agree – there are no deals so far this offseason that I’ve thought “damn, the Indians really missed out.” I wouldn’t want to see them spend that kind of money on any of these guys. Probably the best way to fill a hole is through a trade, but any potential rumored trades haven’t really thrilled me either.

      And you’re also right about there being some just plain weird moves. Did Minnesota even have competition for Hughes? Was there really another team bidding high enough to make that offer necessary? Or did they just bid against themselves?

      • medfest says:

        Now Dexter Fowler gets traded to the Astros for essentially nothing!

        Possible landing place for Stubbs now.Brothers or Ottavino could be the targets.

  • Gvl Steve says:

    I don’t think Marson will be brought back. I read a quote from the front office saying that Marson would get his best opportunity for another team. I don’t think they would have said that if they entertained any plans of signing him after the non-tender.

    The Tigers will regret dumping Fister. You just don’t throw away 200-inning 3.50 pitchers like that. They don’t grow on trees.

  • mondo dentro says:

    I appear to be in a very small minority in America today who doesn’t just think about these matters in a bottom line way. I still think loyalty and appreciation are important values.

    Even if Kazmir (and Ubaldo) took less and stayed with the Tribe–a team that believed in them and helped them rediscover their abilities–they’d still be very rich men. I think less of them for making these moves, and the fact that this sort of thing is routine has all be destroyed my interest in professional sports. And then there’s the fact that owners have no compunction about blackmailing taxpayers to get sweet stadium deals. It’s all about socializing the risk, and privatizing the profits–and the fans are left holding the bag.

    I realize I’m in a lonely group, with this attitude. Go ahead and tell me how it’s perfectly understandable that everyone should be trying to maximize their profits. It won’t change my mind, because I and most of the people I know don’t actually live that way.

    • Swift says:

      “I appear to be in a very small minority in America today who doesn’t just think about these matters in a bottom line way. I still think loyalty and appreciation are important values. ”

      Actually mondo dentro, I think (or at least hope) you are in a majority of fans, but unfortunately it is a tiny minority of professional atheletes.

      The last athlete associated with the Indians who I recall demonstrating what you are talking about was Travis Fryman, who IIRC, was owed according to his contract a couple of million, when he retired, but refused it because he thought it wasn’t right to be paid when he wasn’t playing any longer.

  • DaveR says:

    Loyalty is rarely rewarded. If Kaz took a discount and then got hurt in September, the Indians would just cut him. Time is not on his side either.

    If I were Ubaldo I’d take as much as possible and run. Because with his history you never know (he probably doesn’t either) what you are going to get year to year.

  • Sean Porter says:

    I’m still convinced that some team is going to give Ubaldo a four or five year guaranteed contract, and the GM of that team will eventually get fired for doing it.

    If his option year in his contract wasn’t a mutual option, and the Tribe could have just picked it up, I’d be thrilled to have him back in ’14. For 4 or 5 years at $10+ a year, no freakin’ way.

  • Chris says:

    We need pitchers maybe the indians can trade a vending machine to the browns for weeden