The Cleveland Indians have made a lot of free agent signings this year, no matter what your angry social media timeline may say. Granted, most of the additions have been minor league contracts with invites to Spring Training, but a few have been major league deals. For every one of those major league deals, the Indians were required to move someone on the 40-man roster, as they have had a full squad all offseason. With yesterday's acquisition of Juan Uribe, the Tribe will be faced with another tough decision.
The "obvious" candidate to be removed from the roster, catcher Tony Wolters, was finally waived last Friday when the Indians signed reliever Tommy Hunter. It would have been nice to hold onto Wolters as a minor league player, but the Colorado Rockies claimed him earlier this week. So now, the Indians need to drop someone else.
Right off the bat, the Indians could add Dylan Baker to the 60-day disabled list if they want to ultimately delay the decision further. The 23-year-old righty was added to the 40-man roster prior to December's Rule 5 draft, but he will begin the 2016 season injured as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. He will presumably need to be added to the disabled list eventually, so why not now?
If the Indians would rather just rip the band-aid off now and clear a roster spot the old fashioned way, there are a few candidates that would work. All the prospect sheen of Zach Walters has worn off over the last two seasons, and the 26-year-old has not shown much in terms of major-league production in his limited time on the Indians. He can, in theory, play several defensive positions but the bat is just not there and he has not looked sharp on defense in the majors. It may be time to waive him and let go of the team's last tie to Asdrubal Cabrera.
Joey Butler, who the Indians added as part of their outfielder-acquisition spree this offseason, could be just considered extra baggage at this point with all the other similar players the Indians have added. He may be a better overall hitter than some of the other acquisitions, but the biggest advantage of, say, Collin Cowgill is his strong platoon split against left-handed pitching that makes him a great partner for Abraham Almonte and Lonnie Chisenhall.
Maybe the Indians want to get crazy and make a trade. A lot of talk has made of backup catcher Roberto Perez lately, and his value is sky high right now (about as sky high as a backup catcher's value can get, that is). The only issues with the Indians trading him right now would be that they would need to take a prospect back if they are trading to free up a roster spot. Otherwise, they will be in the same position as they are in now with whatever player comes over in a Perez trade. Or, who knows, maybe they could package Perez and Erik Gonzalez for a nice little 2-for-1 trade going to help the opening day roster.
The good news is that all this is happening around Spring Training, so a lot will be happening with the roster anyway and the Indians will get more looks at the fringe players on the roster. This decision will not need to me made for a little while anyway, as Uribe still has to officially sign the contract before a roster move needs to be made. And, according to Buster Olney, there could be some delay in that happening due to issues with Uribe's visa.