The Cleveland Indians are continuing to add outfielders, this time by signing Will Venable to a minor-league deal with a non-roster invite to Spring Training, per Ken Rosenthal. The deal is still pending a physical, but according to Jordan Bastian, Venable is already at Indians camp and will undergo evaluation today. If everything goes well, he could presumably be working out with the team as early as tomorrow.
Indians interest in Will Venable was first reported in the early parts of the Winter Meetings, shortly after fellow outfielder Nori Aoki signed with the Seattle Mariners. Venable is coming off of a two-year, $8.5 million contract that he signed with the san Diego Padres prior to the 2014 season. Last year, he spent half the season still with the Padres before being dealt to the Texas Rangers at the trade deadline. In 135 plate appearances split between those two teams last season, Venable slashed .244/.320/.350 with a walk rate of 9.5 percent, his highest since 2010.
Venable's strikeout rate has steadily increased over the past four seasons -- from 20 percent in 2012 to 24.1 percent in 2015 -- which is something the Indians will need to keep an eye on.
Over his career, Venable has a clear split against left-handed pitchers (.610 OPS), compared to against right-handed pitchers (.745), which does not make him a great platoon partner with Lonnie Chisenhall or Abraham Almonte, who both struggle against lefties. Instead, if Venable makes the roster out of Spring Training, he could platoon in left field with someone like Rajai Davis or Collin Cowgill until Michael Brantley returns sometime in May.
The deal is now official, which became a bit more important following Abraham Almonte's suspension...