There are rumors circulating that the Indians have interest in free agent Kevin Youkilis, with the hope of him filling in as a first baseman/DH.  The Indians supposedly had interest in trading for Youkilis earlier this season when he was involved in a tumultuous situation in Boston as they favored young third baseman Will Middlebrooks and (at the time) had Adrian Gonzalez at first.  He was battling injuries and (now fired) manager Bobby Valentine, and was hitting just .233/.315/.377 with four home runs in 146 at-bats.  Youkilis instead went to the Chicago White Sox, where he hit .236/.346/.425 with 15 home runs in 292 at-bats.  Even though both totals were well below his career average of .283/.384/.482, his home run totals were on par with his 2011 and 2010 seasons.  Would the 33-year-old Youkilis be a good fit with the Indians?

One of the most positive aspects of a Youkilis signing is that he’s a right-handed bat that has hit left handed pitching well throughout his career – his .298/.417/.511 line is well above his overall career averages.  Despite his diminished numbers in 2012, he still managed to hit .275/.386/.492 against lefties.  If you mainly keep him at first base and DH, with Lonnie Chisenhall doing most of the heavy lifting at third base, it also increases the odds that he will remain healthy throughout the season.  This is not the first time I’ve typed this phrase this week, but he’d also be reunited with former manager Terry Francona.  It’s like they’re getting the band back together!

I think Youkilis could be a good signing this offseason.  While I’m concerned about his health, and the drop in his numbers last season, his home run totals remained basically unchanged and he still managed to hit left-handed pitching well.  If you keep him at first and DH, I think it could limit the wear and tear to his body enough to at least make it a mild success.  My primary fear is that in a thin free agent market this winter, Youkilis will be priced out of the Indians’ likely meager budget.

In other news:

- The Blue Jays claimed LHP Scott Maine off waivers from the Indians last month.  The Jays already designated him for assignment today in order to make room on the 40-man roster for Jeremy Jeffress.

- The Indians signed RHP Hector Rondon and infielder Luis Hernandez to minor league deals with an invite to spring training.  Rondon, once a promising prospect with the Indians, is attempting to come back from Tommy John surgery and a broken elbow.  He’s playing winter ball in Venezuela in an attempt to prepare for next season.  Hernandez spent last season with the Texas Rangers, where he had just two at-bats in two games, where he went hitless.  The 28-year-old switch-hitter spent most of 2012 with the Rangers’ Triple-A Round Rock affiliate, where he hit .262/.303/.376 with eight home runs.  Hernandez has also played in the majors with the Mets, Orioles and Royals.

- RHP Kevin Slowey and outfielder Vinnie Rottino have both filed for free agency after they were transferred to the Triple-A Columbus roster.  The Indians traded Zach Putnam to the Rockies last offseason for Slowey immediately following Roberto Hernandez’s arrest in the Dominican Republic.  Slowey pulled his rib cage in May and did not play the rest of the season.  It’s not that I thought Zach Putnam was shaping up to be the next Mariano Rivera or anything, but he could have been part of a more useful deal if nothing else.

- There are a number of trade rumors regarding the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Justin Upton, but there have been no indications the Indians have been involved in any talks on the young outfielder.  It’s been reported that Cleveland is one of the teams on Upton’s no-trade list, although Oakland was one of the teams on Chris Young’s no-trade list and he still accepted a trade to the Athletics last month as part of a three-team deal with Miami.

8 Comments

  • Cadfael says:

    Pros: Righty bat, walk machine, not Kotchman or LaPorta

    Cons: Not getting younger, could be pricey…that’s about it.

    Overall, I’d say if the price is right, I’d be semi-enthusiastic.

  • Steve Alex says:

    I was in favor of acquiring Youkilis when we still had a chance to contend. That no longer appears to be the case with trade rumors swirling of a fire sale involving Cabrera, Choo and others. Bringing in a guy like Youk makes no sense if the team is in a rebuilding year, especially if we acquire a 1B prospect in trade who is major-league ready. Knowing that the team has no money for free agents and at least 4 starting positions to fill in the lineup and rotation, is it realistic to think our GM can do all that in one off-season and make the team a contender overnight by trading away the few good players we do have? I think not. The ambiguous talk is just to make other teams think we won’t part with our guys unless the price is right, trying to get more in return. The reality is that the team cannot win with half a lineup and 2 reliable starters, and the only way to get better is to blow it up and rebuild. The 2008/2009 rebuild was a failure and it’s time to move on from that. Our FO knows it.

  • DaveR says:

    I agree this makes no sense especially if the impending breakup of the core is a reality. Youk probably goes for $8-10M/yr for multiple years. And why would the Indians do that when they can do something like re-sign Choo? Get some better than below average starting pitching? Fill 2 more position holes with decent players?

    And from the Other News as well as current and past moves, it’s pretty clear Antonetti is no Shapiro when it comes to evaluating talent. Way too many misfires.

    • Josh says:

      The Indians aren’t going to firesale this offseason. If they were planning on selling off all their players in the offseason they would have just given the job to Sandy Alomar. I feel (as well as the Cleveland Plain Dealer) pretty strongly that the Indians are going to give Francona a shot to win with his best veteran players, and if they aren’t contending they will blow it up at the deadline. The only way that someone is going to be traded is if a team is willing to way overpay for one Choo or Cabrera. I don’t think we’ll be seeing many trades this offseason unless a true blockbuster in favor of the Indians is presented.

  • Steve Alex says:

    You have a good point there about Francona, Josh. But how will the team add the quality 1B, LF, DH and SP they’ll need to contend next year without trading any core guys or spending huge money in free agency? I suppose they could try to trade just one or two guys for the players they need, keep the rest, add a couple of affordable free agents, and try that. Maybe trade Cabrera to the Cardinals for 1B Adams and a starter, put Aviles at short and sign Youk to DH and Bay for LF. That’s walking a pretty fine line, though. Talk about no margin for error.

    • Josh says:

      I would expect them to possibly make 1 big deal which could bring bat a decent bat or arm, but I wouldn’t expect them to make too many moves. I have a feeling they’re going to hope for progress from Jimenez and Masterson, and use some in house options for the rest of the rotation. With Carlos Carrasco coming back, He’s going to be all but assured a rotation spot regardless of spring. I would expect them to bargain bin free agent shop and then possibly spend on maybe one or two guys. I wouldn’t be shocked if the indians look into Youkilis, but I believe he will be priced out of their range due to the crappy market for 3B and infielders in general.

      If the Indians are to trade someone I really think it would be Cabrera. I think his trade value will be huge considering Texas doesn’t want to part with Andrus or Profar, and Cabrera is one of the best offensive shortstops in the game and still has a higher ceiling than he has reached. He is capable of a 30/100 season, and any scout will tell you that. With him it’s a matter of conditioning and effort.

      I think the fact that there are literally 0 projectable starting short stops on the free agent market and a general lack of talent at the position lately could force Cleveland’s hand into dealing Cabrera. However, don’t expect them to part ways with him without getting probably 2 elite prospects and a throw in. It may sound unreasonable but when you’re the only one with the supply the demand can sometimes way outweigh the value.

  • Steve Alex says:

    Cabrera definitely has high value because of his age, contract status and production at a premium position. The lousy free agent market for shortstops also gives the Tribe an opportunity to name their price. St. Louis looks like a good fit because they have 2 first basemen who can mash (Craig and Adams) and are willing to trade one to fill their need at short. They also have gobs of pitching. The wildcard is Boston, who is said to be putting together a package offer for Masterson and Choo. It’ll take the moon to get both, but they have a pretty deep pool of prospects to trade from, especially after the deal with the Dodgers. If they offer four or five strong prospects, including pitchers close to being ready, that would be hard to pass up. We’re going to lose Choo anyway.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    I don’t have as much of an attachment to Choo, since I already pretty much figure he’ll be gone. Even though I love Cabrera, they may really be able to get someone to overpay right now. Shortstops are in demand, and he’d have to draw significant interest.

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