Let's move on to a more mundane topic - after last night, mundane is good, right? - that takes a longer-term view of the roster.
With both Ryan Raburn and Mike Aviles signed through 2014 and Yan Gomes a future fixture in some type of role, the bench looks surprisingly stable over the next couple years. That's bad news for a couple people in the organization, particularly future utility types:
- Cord Phelps is the biggest loser here. He's out of options after this season, and has a profile as somebody who could possibly fill the same type of role Raburn is filling now. He's gotten a couple opportunities in Cleveland, but he hasn't really taken advantage of them, and he isn't blowing the doors off of AAA pitching. Once upon a time (2010) Phelps was a solid Prospect That Matters, and was seen as potential starting second baseman (keep in mind that Jason Kipnis has moved to 2B in 2010) but a combination of stagnation and not getting his opportunity at the right time is ultimately going to mean that he's playing for someone else next season.
- Juan Diaz isn't directly affected by the Raburn extension, but it is another strike against him playing even a minor role on the Indians in 2014 or 2015. His bigger problem obviously has been his performance in AAA this season. Yeah, he's still only 24 years old, still young for the International League (and for most of the season he's been the youngest position player on the roster), but his batting line (.237/.310/.349) and prodigious strikeout rate (110 in 409 PA) may mean that he's at the top of the list if the Indians need to DFA someone this winter even though he still has option years remaining.
- Tim Fedroff is another guy who is having a bad season in AAA. Last year, even as an older guy, Fedroff looked like he could have a nice career as a fourth outfielder-type, as he hit 325/.393/.517 in his first year in AAA. But this year he's regressed, especially in the power department, and although the Indians aren't exactly bursting with outfielders, he might be completely off the Tribe radar now. He does have the better chance than Diaz or Phelps of sticking on the 40-man roster through next year's Opening Day, as he has two more option years remaining after this year.
These three represent the entirety of position players on the 40-man roster who are in the minors. Based on that, you can understand why the Indians were so aggressive in extending Raburn, because if he left for somewhere else, there's nobody on the roster that could step into a major-league role next season. Heck, I think there's a chance that none of these guys will be on the 40-man roster on Opening Day next year, especially with a lot of difficult Rule 5 choices on the horizon (Giovanny Urshela and Carlos Moncrief, to name a few). Had the Indians not kept Raburn, at least a couple of these guys would have had decent shots of making the Opening Day roster next season. But now that Raburn is coming back this group's future with the Indians looks dim.