The Indians have signed right-handed relief pitcher Ryan Webb and assigned him to Triple-A Columbus.
It's been a strange few for Webb, who was with Baltimore last year and until earlier this week, when he was traded to the Dodgers along with the #74 pick in this June's draft, in exchange for a C-level prospect. Most draft picks cannot be traded, but that's a competitive balance pick, and that's the one type that can be moved. The Dodgers didn't intend to put Webb in their bullpen, and out-righted him to their Triple-A team in Oklahoma City. As a player with five years of service time, Webb had the right to decline that move, and did.
The Dodgers anticipated this, and remain on the hook for most of Webb's $2.75 salary. They were simply willing to pay that money to get that draft pick. Given their revenue streams, I don't blame them. The Indians will pay Webb a pro-rated share of the league minimum, which, if they were to call him up tomorrow and keep him on the roster for the rest of the year, would be ~$490,000.
No word on why Triple-A with the Indians was preferable to Triple-A with the Dodgers for Webb. Maybe he likes Columbus more than Oklahoma City, maybe (probably) he believes he has a better chance of getting back to MLB with Cleveland, or maybe he just wanted to be close to the Q for Cavs playoff games.
Webb has pitched for the Padres, Marlins, and Orioles over the last six years, appearing in a total of 317 games. He's had an ERA+ better than 100 in each of the last five seasons. That figure was only 101 last year, which is nice for a #4 or 5 starter, but not very good for a reliever. His peripherals were strong though, as evidenced by Webb's 2.95 FIP. Since 2010, Webb has the second-best HR rate of any pitcher in baseball (min. 250 IP), allowing only 0.36 per 9 innings pitched.
Given Francona's preference for a large bullpen, and willingness to have guys go back and forth between Columbus and Cleveland, and given that Webb has a track record as a reasonably effective reliever at the MLB level, I'm pretty sure we'll see him with the Indians, perhaps before the end of the month.
Given that the most substantial part of his signing is the potential roster spot, I like this move for the Tribe.