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The Week in Transactions: Tribe inks arbitration-eligible players

The arbitration-free streak was broken a couple years ago, but the Indians have started another streak with their second season in a row with no arbitration hearings.

Cody Allen just became a lot wealthier
Cody Allen just became a lot wealthier
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Tribe Transactions

January 8

Signed RHP Zach McAllister to a one-year, $1.3M contract (avoiding arbitration)

January 14

Signed RHP Bryan Shaw to a one-year, $2.75M contract (avoiding arbitration)

January 15

Signed RHP Cody Allen to a one-year, $4.15M contract (avoiding arbitration)

Signed OF Lonnie Chisenhall to a one-year, $2.725M contract (avoiding arbitration)

Signed RHP Jeff Manship to a one-year, $760K contract (avoiding arbitration)

Signed RHP Josh Tomlin to a one-year, $2.25M contract (avoiding arbitration)

With this flurry of signings, coming just after MLB players and teams exchanged salary offers, the Indians have signed all the players on the roster eligible for arbitration. Cody Allen, who made close to the minimum in 2015, got a massive boost, while Jeff Manship got a very modest bump in salary. The closer role is a much more lucrative than an 7th/8th inning setup man on the free agent market, and thus in arbitration (which uses other player salaries as guidance).  Maybe the Indians sign Allen to a contract that will lock him up until free agency this spring, but more realistically I think they wait until next year, when he'll be two years from the magical six years of service time.

The Indians will be paying the five arbitration-eligible players in the bullpen approximately $5.9M more than they did the year before. None of the five are eligible for free agency until at least after the 2017 season, but unless the overall payroll increases considerably next year, they'll need to trade away some of that expense at some point. Keep an eye on Austin Adams, Shawn Armstrong, and Kyle Crockett in 2016; if they grow into important roles, you might see the Indians trade Brian Shaw or Zach McAllister by this time next year.

A couple notes on the two non-relievers:

Josh Tomlin, believe it or not, can be a free agency after the season, assuming of course he spends the entire 2016 campaign on a major-league roster.

Lonnie Chisenhall was an interesting case, as he changed positions during the year, and most of the added value he provided after the position switch came on the defensive side of the ledger. As it turns out, that 1 win of defense didn't really move the needle, and he gets just a 22% salary increase.

Selected MLB Transactions

January 11

St. Louis Cardinals signed RHP Seung Hwan Oh to a one-year contract (2017 team option)

Oh had pitched the last two years of his professional career in Japan after nine seasons in his native South Korea. The 33-year-old reliever throws mostly a fastball/slider combination, and has a very conventional delivery. He likely slots into a 6th/7th inning role for the Cardinals.

January 12

Miami Marlins signed IF Chris Johnson to a one-year contract (MLB minimum)

Because the Indians released Johnson, the Marlins just have to cover the major-league minimum; the Indians will be on the hook for the rest of his 2016-2017 salaries. See this post for more than you'd ever want to know about the Chris Johnson situation.

Los Angeles Dodgers traded RHP Joe Wieland to the Seattle Mariners for SS Erick Mejia

The Dodgers have spent most of the winter looking to bolster their rotation, and after they signed Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda, they apparently thought they were set there. Wieland still has rookie eligibility, but has spent over 3 years of service time thanks to a lot of time spent on the MLB DL. He had Tommy John surgery in late 2012, which cost him all of 2013 and most of 2014, and spent most of 2015 in the minors. He might be able to make the back of the Seattle rotation. Mejia is quite a ways from the majors, having played just 10 games in full-season leagues.

January 13

Miami Marlins signed RHP Edwin Jackson to a one-year contract (MLB minimum)

Apparently the Marlins thought that signing players still being paid by their old clubs is the new market inefficiency. The Cubs released Jackson last July, even though he was under contract through the 2016 season. The Braves picked him up after he cleared waivers, then released him after the season. As with Chris Johnson, the Marlins will be footing the MLB minimum salary, with the Cubs on the hook for the rest of his $12.49M 2016 salary.

January 14

San Diego Padres signed RHP Carlos Villanueva to a one-year, $1.5M contract

Villanueva could pitch either in the rotation or the bullpen. He pitched in long relief for the Cardinals last year, but before that was a starter in the Chicago Cubs rotation.

January ??

Kansas City Royals signed RHP Ian Kennedy to a five-year, $70M contract (player opt-out after 2017)

This one isn't official yet, but I do want to touch on this now, as it affects an AL Central rival.

Kennedy has spent most of his career in the NL West, and since 2012 hasn't posted a league-average ERA. He's a innings eater, and the Royals by most accounts (including mine) overpaid especially terms of the length of the deal. There is an opt-out after Year 2, which is bizarre for a player of this type, but I guess the opt-out isn't just a feature for stars anymore. The dollars per year is in line with similar free agents, but unless Kennedy has a BABIP-fueled fluke season in 2016 or 2017, I think the Royals will keep him through the end of the deal. The good news for Kennedy is that he's going to pitch in one of the best parks in MLB for fly-ball pitchers, and he'll have an amazing defensive outfield playing behind him.

Latest 40-man roster

(embiggened version)

Jan 17 2016

Changes since last time:

1) There's still a month until pitchers and catchers report, so anything can still happen, but I don't see the Indians trading one of their starting pitchers now. So I've moved Cody Anderson to the minors, and added Austin Adams to the bullpen.

2) I've added a column to track the team control for players on the 25-man roster. This does include team options, which I've noted with the "^" symbol. For example, the Indians have 2020 and 2021 team options on Yan Gomes. I previously had service noted, but didn't note the players that were signed to long-term deals. This new addition should clear up any confusion.

3) I've changed the amount owed the Braves to $10M from $5M. Previously I assumed the money would be split between 2016 and 2017, but since Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn will be (assuming the Braves aren't stupid) free agents after 2016, the money should be paid in total this year.

4) I've updated the 2016 salaries for the arbitration-eligible players. The total projected 25-man payroll is now roughly $85M if you include the money owed the Braves and the money owed Chris Johnson.