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The Week in Transactions: Tribe signs Marlon Byrd to minor-league deal

This week's AL Central preview: The LaRoche-less Chicago White Sox.

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Indians Transactions

March 16

Optioned LHP Giovanni Soto to Columbus (AAA)

Thus the left-handed reliever battle is down to four: Kyle Crockett, Joe Thatcher, Tom Gorzelanny, and Ross Detwiler. Crockett has the advantage of already being on the 40-man roster, but Terry Francona has been singing Thatcher's praises this spring, so perhaps he'll emerge the victor. Or maybe Francona takes both two left-handers.

March 18

Signed OF Marlon Byrd to a minor-league contract

If Byrd makes the club (and I think there's a good chance of that), Byrd will get a base $1M contract with another $2.5M in incentives. Byrd's role would be to play right field against left handed pitching, pinch-hitting duties, and an occasional stint as DH. Joey Butler would lose both his 25-man and 40-man roster spot if Byrd does make the club, which again I think is almost a given.

Optioned OF James Ramsey to Columbus (AAA); Sent OF Michael Choice, C Jeremy Lucas, C Anthony Recker, IF Eric Stamets to minor-league camp

Ramsey theoretically had a chance of making the club, but needed to have an outstanding spring to get into the conversation, that didn't happen, and so he'll likely be the Columbus center fielder (assuming Naquin makes the big-league team).

In addition, Jordan Bastian noted that Todd Hankins and Jarrett Grube will stay in major-league camp for now, but have been told that they aren't making the roster.

March 19

Optioned RHP Shawn Armstrong to Columbus (AAA)

Armstrong was derailed with a lat injury, though I don't think we've seen the last of him this year; I think he has the stuff to be a back-end reliever.

Selected MLB Transactions

Not much has happened on the transaction front, though this is the calm before the storm; the veteran minor-league NRIs need to be released by the 29th if they don't make the club, and various players will be placed on waivers as a result of adding non-roster players to the 40-man roster.

March 18

Atlanta Braves returned LHP Evan Rutckyj to the New York Yankees (Rule 5)

Things I know about Evan Rutckyj:

1) He's from Ontario, Canada

2) He had a decent year in AA Trenton in 2016

3) His last name needs more vowels

AL Central Roster Preview: Chicago White Sox

White Sox March 2016

With Adam LaRoche's departure (though the retirement paperwork hasn't officially been processed), I believe the White Sox would shift Avisail Garcia to DH, and move Adam Eaton to one of the corners. This would both improve the defense and limit some wear and tear on Eaton, who has often been sidelined by injuries in his young career. The White Sox could still sign a free agent (Justin Morneau?) if they wanted another bat off the bench. JB Shuck is looking like he'll make the club, so I'll take that as a sign that the White Sox are looking for another bat.

Jimmy Rollins is in camp as a minor-league free agent, but I see no reason why he won't make the roster. Avila and Navarro will share time at catcher.

Given that their pitching rotation should have four left-handed pitchers, it's a good thing that the Indians have added quite a bit of right-handed hitters to the roster this winter.

Latest 25-man/40-man Roster

Embiggened version

Google Docs version

March 20 2016

With Naquin's impressive performance this spring, I've moved him into the starting lineup and moved Collin Cowgill to Columbus. Joey Butler is still listed on the 25-man roster, but if Marlon Byrd checks out, he'll be on the waiver wire in Columbus at the end of the month (he's out of options), as he has an option year left. I've also taken the injured tag off of Michael Brantley, something I didn't think I'd do. So it's looking like the Indians will start the season with Brantley, Naquin, and Chisenhall as the starters, with Davis and Byrd on the bench. Davis should get plenty of playing time filling in for Brantley early in the season, and spelling Naquin against left-handed pitching, while I think Chisenhall and Byrd will form a platoon in right field. Byrd would also get some starts at DH.

Other notes:

Josh Martin is still in San Diego's minor-league camp. He allowed three runs in his last ST appearance, but he's still in the mix to make the San Diego bullpen.

Dan Otero is another player that is out of options, meaning that he'll have to pass through waivers if he doesn't make the 40-man roster, so I think his good performance spring should be enough to get him a spot.