The week in transactions
Signed OF Shane Robinson and C Adam Moore to minor-league contracts; invited them to Spring Training
You know about Moore, who was briefly with the team in September as the third catcher on the roster. He'll be relevant only if Gomes or Perez gets hurt, or perhaps if the Indians trade Perez this winter. Robinson has gotten good marks for his defense with St. Louis and Minnesota, but isn't much of a hitter. I'd probably take him over Jerry Sands, though I would hope that Sands and Robinson aren't actually fighting for a roster spot next spring.
Purchased the contracts of RHP Mike Clevinger, LHP Shawn Morimando, OF Tyler Naquin, RHP Dylan Baker, and OF James Ramsey
Released RHP CC Lee (sold contract to Seibu Lions of NPB)
These were the additions of Rule 5 eligible players. The first three (Clevinger, Morimando, Naquin) were no-brainers, and I haven't seen any objection to those three.
Clevinger is yet another data point in the argument that the Indians can scout other organizations. He was acquired by the Indians in 2014 for Vinnie Pestano, whose effectiveness as a reliever had all but gone. 1.5 years later, Pestano is not on a 40-man roster (or likely to be signed to a major-league deal), but Clevinger is. He had an outstanding season in Akron as a starter, and will be in line to make his MLB debut at some point in 2016.
The Indians struck out with their top pitching selections in 2011 draft (Dylan Howard, Jake Sisco), but their mid-round picks have been outstanding: Cody Anderson (11), Ryan Merritt* (16), Shawn Armstrong (18), Shawn Morimando (19), and of course Cody Allen (23), all of whom are now on the 40-man roster. Morimando doesn't have overpowering stuff, but has a good idea about how to pitch, and will hit all parts of the strike zone. He should be joining Clevinger in the AAA rotation next season, and would also be in line to make his debut next season if needed.
Tyler Naquin would have made his MLB debut this past September if he had been healthy. He's proven that he can play center field, and with that position in flux right now, he could very easily win the job if the Indians don't acquire someone this winter.
Dylan Baker had Tommy John surgery last May, so I'm guessing the Indians protected him to avoid having another club selecting him and stashing him on the DL most of 2016. Baker has pitched a grand total of 22 innings the past two seasons, so don't expect much in the way of innings once he returns from rehab.
James Ramsey was in my opinion the flimsiest of selections. Yes, the Indians need outfielders, but Ramsey doesn't seem like the type of player that can help them, at least based on what he did last year. He hit .243/.327/.382 for Columbus in 2015, and Columbus has one of the best hitter's parks east of the Mississippi.
Three players not protected by the Indians that could get selected: Relief pitcher Jeff Johnson, who was excellent as Akron's closer (though he struggled in the AFL), Luis Lugo, who has a ton of potential, and is left-handed, and Luigi Rodriguez, who had an outstanding 2015 campaign but was suspended for PED use late in the year. I'm probably most afraid of losing Lugo, and would have protected him over Ramsey.
To make room for five additions, the Indians sold CC Lee to the Seibu Lions of the NPB (Japan). He had struggled in key situations for the team in the past couple years, and was going to be out of options.
Latest 40-man Roster
Although none of these moves will likely affect the Opening Day roster (unless Naquin can win the CF job), it does give the Indians more options if they do trade a starting pitcher this winter. I really like Clevinger, and think he could help this team in 2016.
Speaking of prospects, Scottsdale won the AFL last night, which is the team assigned to the Indians (among other teams). Check out Matt's post for a complete recap.
*Thanks to Andrew in the comments for reminding me about Merritt