The Indians seem to have developed an odd speciality: taking a gamble on players who appear to be washed up and making them shine. Scott Kazmir certainly made the biggest comeback, but Ubaldo Jimenez and Ryan Raburn had also been written off by a number of fans and baseball writers when last season began. On Monday the Indians took their latest gamble  when they signed first baseman David Cooper.

Cooper is 26  and was originally signed by Cleveland on August 13th. He appeared in 13 games between the rookie Arizona League club and AAA Columbus. A former first round pick, he split the 2012 season between AAA Las Vegas and the Toronto Blue Jays. He hit .314 (82-261) with 27 2B, 10HR & 52 RBI in 62 games for Las Vegas before being promoted to Toronto in May, batting .300 (42-140) with 11 2B, 4HR & 11 RBI in 45 games with the Blue Jays. Then in late August 2012, he injured his back during a game against the Tigers. What was thought to be a back sprain was really a herniated thoracic disk that was compressing his spinal cord. This was a potentially career-ending injury. Worst-case scenario and it would be a mobility-ending injury.  The Blue Jays released him in March 2013, and he had radical surgery in April.

Jerry Crasnick wrote a great piece on ESPN detailing Cooper’s surgery. This wasn’t just routine back operation. Cooper now has a titanium plate a titanium plate and two 8-millimeter titanium screws fusing the T-7 and T-8 vertebrae in his back. Plus he has some locking nuts holding the plate and screws together. He’s not quite the bionic man, but you can safely call him a medical miracle. I don’t know if they made him better, stronger faster, but maybe he can regain the swing he had for the 2011 AAA Las Vegas 51′s, where he hit .364 AVG/.439 OBP with a hefty .974 OPS.  Cooper is a career .301 in the minors and in 72 games with the Blue Jays, batted .270 with 18 doubles, 6 home runs, and 23 RBI.  He hit .314/.364/.373 in 55 plate appearances between the rookie Arizona Fall League and AAA last year. And wouldn’t you know it–he’s another left-handed bat.

I don’t know if Cooper is going to be our inspiring comeback story of 2014 or not, but wouldn’t it be cool if he were?




  • Swift says:

    Nice story and I hope the guy does well, but why do the Indians need another first baseman when they have Swisher and Santana to play first?

    • Chris Burnham says:

      Bench-bat and maybe catching lightning in a bottle. It’s a low-risk/high-reward signing. But I wouldn’t be shocked to see that he doesn’t make it out of camp either.

  • Susan Petrone says:

    Well, Santana IS playing third base in winter ball. Jordan Bastian tweeted that the Indians are in the market for a third string catcher ( Could be so Santana can just be first and DH or it could be they’ll try him at third as well. Sadly, Chisenhall hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. First base is getting as crowded as the Indians outfield.

  • D.P. Roberts says:

    I insinuated yesterday that with the Cooper & Murphy signings, perhaps Nick Swisher is trade bait. If he isn’t, I have to wonder why the Indians went to so much effort to lure Swisher to Cleveland – and then spend his first offseason spending even more money at his positions.

    I have a second trade rumor to insinuate as well. The Rays could use a first baseman – the Indians could trade Swisher (and probably Danny Salazar) for David Price.

    This would go with my new theory – going after David Price after acquiring David Murphy and David Cooper would prove that the Indians are only going after guys named David. Chris Antonetti’s “David-centric” approach came after he visited famous psychic Sylvia Browne to seek her advice on the Indians’ roster, right before she kicked the bucket. Her last words to him were “The Indians will win the World Series this year if they sign David…” and then she died. To hedge his bets, Antonetti is going to sign every David in MLB.

    • Swift says:


      That does explains Antonetti’s recent trip to Florence, where he was arrested for writing his name on a particular famous statue.

    • Gvl Steve says:

      Cooper will start the year in AAA and is not a threat to take anybody’s job right away. Murphy is an OF, not a 1B.

  • Susan Petrone says:

    D.P. I am intrigued by your “David” theory.

    • D.P. Roberts says:

      Look who the Indians just signed to a one-year contract – infielder DAVID Adams!!!!

      I just crunched some numbers, and the odds that the Indians would randomly sign 3 people who just happened to be named David are 21,952 to 1.

  • medfest says:

    I’m inclined to think Jesus Aguilar is the guy being mentioned in deals since Cooper would play at AAA.

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