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Transactions: December 2009

Catchup time....


Signed RHP Jason Grilli, IF Luis Gonzalez, LHP Mike Gosling, and 3B Brian Buscher to minor-league contracts; Invited them to Spring Training.

Grilli was the fourth overall pick in the 1997 Draft, and was dealt to Florida for Livan Hernandez a couple years later. He made a couple early appearances with the Marlins, but then was sidelined often over the next couple of years with some major injuries (bulging disc, elbow injury).

Grilli didn't pan out with Chicago after the White Sox selected him in the 2003 Rule 5 Draft, but the Tigers saw enough of him to sign him to a minor-league contract. He spent a couple productive seasons with Detroit, though he never quite made the transition to a late reliever. He had a good run with the Rockies in 2008, but struggled early next season and was sold to Texas. The Rangers removed him from their 40-man roster after the season. For Grilli, the Indians are a good situation: a team with a lot of young starters usually means a lot of innings for a middle reliever. I think he has a good shot at making the roster.

The other three seem to be Columbus fodder. Luis Rodriguez has been a reserve infielder in the majors with the Twins (2005-2007) and the Padres (2008-2009), but is coming off a very poor offensive season (.202/.319/.260) with the Padres. Mike Gosling is back in the organization for some odd reason (familiarity? left-handedness?) Brian Buscher, who had some good offensive seasons in the Twins organization but also has a bad defensive reputation, should be an everyday player for the Clippers.


Drafted RHP Hector Ambriz from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Rule 5 Draft

The Indians haven't drafted a player in the Rule 5 Draft for themselves during Mark Shapiro's tenure, but that changed this winter. Hector Ambriz has spent his minor-league career as a starter in the Arizona organization, but the Indians are banking on him having better success as a reliever throwing just his fastball and splitter. As with any Rule 5 pick, though, the odds are against him making the Opening Day roster.


Non-Tendered RHP Adam Miller, RHP Anthony Reyes, and RHP Jose Veres

Signed RHP Adam Miller and RHP Anthony Reyes; Invited Reyes to Spring Training

At this point, it's unlikely we'll ever see Adam Miller pitch in a major league game, but as long as Adam wants to give it a go, the Indians have little to lose by keeping him in the organization. Anthony Reyes has also had problems staying healthy, sitting out much of the 2009 season with an elbow injury. Like Miller, it's unlikely he'll contribute to the Indians in 2010.



Signed RHP Saul Rivera to a Minor League Contract

You would think that Manny Acta had some influence on this signing, as Rivera pitched for Acta in Washington. Rivera made 161 appearances in 2007 and 2008, but imploded in 2009 and spent much of the year in the minors. When he was on, Rivera was a rubber-armed middle reliever and every club could use at least one of those.

Received RHP Mitch Talbot from the Tampa Bay Rays to complete the Kelly Shoppach trade.

If Talbot, who is at this point a marginal major league starter, had an option left, I would probably be less upset. But Talbot is out of options, and isn't appreciably better than the group of youngish starters (Carrasco, Sowers, Huff, Rondon) the Indians were thinking about placing at the back of the rotation anyway. Heck, there was a chance the Rays would have placed Talbot on waivers in March, so the Indians could have gotten him then for just the waiver fee.

Meanwhile, the Rays subsequently signed Shoppach to a $5.55M contract covering his last two arbitration years, along with a reasonable team option for 2012. He's an immediate upgrade over Dioner Navarro both at the plate and behind it. The Indians, for whatever reason, were anxious to rid themselves of Shoppach, and in their haste, unloaded him at pennies on the dollar.