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The week in transactions: Almonte suspended, Uribe and Venable signed

And here I thought it was going to be a quiet week..

Juan Uribe
Juan Uribe
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Usually the first couple weeks of Spring Training are quiet on the transaction front. All the free agents are normally signed by now, and it isn't usually until the last week of Spring Training that the team makes its last-minute roster additions.

Tribe Moves

February 26

Placed CF Abraham Almonte on the Restricted List (MLB suspension for PED use - 80 games)

Signed CF Will Venable to a minor-league contract and invited him to Spring Training

The Restricted List works much like the 60-day Disabled List, in that Almonte will not count against the 40-man roster while he's suspended, and the Indians will have to add him back to the 40-man in late June. Almonte was the favorite to be the everyday center field until Michael Brantley returned, thereafter serving as the fourth outfielder. Almonte is at a very precarious point in his career, and there's a good possibility now that Almonte won't get another chance to play every day for the team. For all we know Tyler Naquin may take advantage to become the starting center fielder, or perhaps by this time next year Bradley Zimmer will be making his debut. And perhaps it was inevitable that Almonte would lose out eventually, but this suspension

The Indians didn't have any inkling when they signed Venable that Almonte would be suspended, so count the Venable signing as a somewhat fortuitous event. Venable at times has been a serviceable hitter, but in recent years the power has fallen sharply, and he no longer looks like an everyday player. He could be a decent fourth outfielder, but the Indians already have a lot of those in camp.

February 28

Signed 3B Juan Uribe to a one-year $4M contract

We've been speculating about Uribe for what seems like all winter because he fit all the needs for that role: a player who has some power, can still play a decent third base, and who would be available on a one-year deal. Giovanny Urshela should still very much be in the team's plans, but this will allow him to get a bit more minor-league seasoning, and if he hits his way back to the majors, there's several ways both he and Uribe can fit on the major-league roster.

Other Selected MLB Moves

February 25

Chicago Cubs traded OF Chris Coghlan to the Oakland Athletics for RHP Aaron Brooks

Chicago Cubs signed OF Dexter Fowler to a one-year $8M contract (2017 mutual option)

Further contract details: $5M buyout on option, Fowler receives 2017 salary of $9M if both team and player pick up option

Although the Cubs, in theory, give up a sandwich pick for re-signing Fowler (which they would have gotten had another club signed him), I think well worth the rather minor sacrifice for a team that's clearly going all-in on a championship run. Fowler had been rumored to sign in Baltimore, but that news was leaked before the actual contract was signed.

Adding Fowler meant that Casey Coghlan had no room on the Cubs roster (there was a chance of that even before Fowler returned), so the Cubs dealt the utility player to the A's for a fringy reliever in Brooks. Coghlin is a player that will be in the lineup for his offense, as his defense (wherever he plays) is poor. If the A's can use him as a platoon player with short exposure in the field, he'll be a decent addition.

Baltimore Orioles signed RHP Yovani Gallardo to a two-year, $22M contract (2018 club option)

Further contract details: 2018 $13M club option, $2M buyout. $3.25 of the 2016-2017 salary is deferred, and $3M of the 2018 option will be deferred in the option is picked up.

The Orioles were poised to sign two of the three remaining QO free agents, but ended up with just one. Of the many players bandied about as "victims" of the Qualifying Offer, I think only Howie Kendrick and Gallardo were really hurt by the process. While inferior pitchers received long-term deals, Gallardo needed to settle for just a two-year deal. And no, it wasn't just the QO that scared teams off (he's also had a declining strikeout rate in an era where strikeouts have never been easier to get), but even so, a pitcher who has been as durable and effective as Gallardo has been should have gotten at least $15M a year for at least 3-4 seasons.

Latest 25-man/40-man Roster

Embiggened Version

Google Docs Version

Feb 28 2016

As mentioned above, the Indians didn't have to make another roster move to add Juan Uribe to the 40-man roster because placing a player on the Restricted List removes him the 40-man. The Indians can still open one spot by placing Dylan Baker (who is recovering from Tommy John surgery) on the 60-day Disabled List.

Almonte's suspension opens up the center field job for grabs. Whoever wins the job would likely stay on and be the fourth outfielder after Michael Brantley returns. Or in case Tyler Naquin gets the job, he might be sent down to AAA to play every day once Brantley is healthy. The main contenders in my mind would be Naquin, Will Venable, Colin Cowgill, and James Ramsey, with the frontrunners being Naquin and Venable.  Cowgill would be the favorite to be the main reserve outfielder.