The Indians are expected to exercise their $3.5 million team option on Mike Aviles for the 2015 season. This per a report by Cleveland.com's Paul Hoynes. The Indians don't have to make an official decision until three days after the World Series ends, so it's possible things will change, but it's hard to see what could happen in the next week or so that would lead management to change their minds.
I don't love the decision, but I'm also not surprised by it. Aviles has been well below average as a hitter for the Indians over the last two seasons, with a .250/.277/.356 line that gives him an OPS+ of just 79. His defense rates out as a but below average as well.
Aviles is a well liked and respected veteran though, and Francona (like most managers) likes having guys like that around. Aviles also has a great deal of versatility defensively, as evidence by him having played six different positions in 2014. Teams like versatility.
I like versatility too, but being able to play a bunch of different positions mediocrely while hitting well below average isn't exactly what I have in mind when I think of the term. It isn't so much the $3.5 million that bothers me ($3.25 million really, given that it would have cost $250,000 to buy out his contract), though that amount isn't nothing for a team with the Tribe's payroll, it's more that I think they have other options that I'd prefer to see. Jose Ramirez ought to be the starting shortstop, and when Francisco Lindor (hopefully) comes up to take that over, Ramirez can fill the super-sub role that Aviles seems destined for. (This would be less of an issue if Francona didn't prefer 8 relievers.)
Francona isn't the only manager who likes a player with Aviles' traits, and I think if this option had been declined, Aviles would have gotten a similar contract somewhere else. For that reason, it's certainly possible that he'll be traded during the offseason, or something during the season after Lindor has come up, but I'm opposed to keeping guys around just because you figure you can trade them when the time comes. The average fan seems to think it's easy to find a suitor for any player their team doesn't need anymore, but in my experience such moves are much harder to work out.
This isn't a big enough move for me to work up any outrage about it, but if the decision were mine, I'd have declined the option.