The Cleveland Indians did not mess around in protecting players from next month’s Rule 5 draft. In total five players were added: pitchers Dylan Baker, Mike Clevinger, and Shawn Morimando, as well as outfielders Tyler Naquin, and James Ramsey. The Indians only had four open spots coming into today, so in order to make room for the fifth player, they also sold the contract of relief pitcher C.C. Lee to the Seibu Lions of the Nippon League.
Naquin, Clevinger, and even Morimando are not big surprises, but adding James Ramsey was a bit of a divisive proposition among Indians fans over the past couple weeks. Ramsey is still a Top 20 prospect in the Tribe’s farm system, but the 25-year-old had a tough year in Triple-A, slashing .243/.327/.382 with 12 home runs in 126 games for the Columbus Clippers. Any other year Ramsey may have been left off the roster, but the Indians are in need of outfield depth right now, so it does make sense to protect him from another team swooping in and hoping he can break through the AAAA wall.
Dylan Baker, who pitched only one game last year before requiring season-ending Tommy John surgery, is a bit of a surprise, but he will essentially be a free roster spot for a big part of 2016. According to Todd Paquette, he could be placed on the 60-day disabled list as he continues to recover from surgery.
If anything, these moves add to the narrative that the Indians are desperate to cling to any potential outfield talent they can find. They recently signed Shane Robinson to a minor league contract, and they opted to sell off C.C. Lee instead of removing someone like Michael Choice or Jerry Sands to make room on the roster.
The Rule 5 draft will take place during the Winter Meetings sometime between December 7 and December 10.