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Week in Transactions: The Columbus shuffle

If you thought the major-league pitching moves were crazy, wait until you see the minor-league moves!

MLB: Cleveland Indians at New York Yankees
Shawn Morimando was one of many pitchers brought up from AAA this past week
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Latest 25-man/40-man rosters

Embiggened Version
Google Docs Version
August 8 2016

By now you’ve met every pitcher on the 40-man roster except Dylan Baker (who is recovering from Tommy John surgery) now that Tyler Olson is off the roster. The three relievers currently on the DL all are track to return to the active roster some time this month, so that hopefully will stabilize the back end of the bullpen. Though if the starting staff had been pitching even competently the last couple weeks, it shouldn’t have mattered who was the 5th/6th/7th pitcher in the bullpen.

One pretty cool piece of trivia related to the bWAR totals; the top five position players by WAR were all signed/drafted and developed by the Indians (with Carlos Santana tied with Tyler Naquin for 5th). The rotation, however, is made up almost entirely of players acquired via trade (Kluber/Carrasco/Bauer/Clevinger, with Tomlin the only homegrown player of the five).

Major-League Transactions

August 2

Placed RHP Danny Salazar on the 15-Day Disabled List (right elbow)

Activated OF Brandon Guyer

A precautionary MRI revealed no structural damage to Salazar’s elbow, so that’s good. It seems like it’s confidence more than injury that’s been the cause of Salazar’s recent slump, so this 15-day break hopefully will allow him to get that back.

August 3

Optioned RHP Austin Adams to Columbus (AAA)

Recalled RHP Shawn Armstrong from Columbus (AAA)

Aaaaannnnd, the merry-go-round begins. Francona at this time did mention that the team was going to have to cycle in relievers so that the overall bullpen wouldn’t be overwhelmed, and events over the next week would prove him correct. Austin Adams may throw in the upper 90s, but was being hit like a pitcher topping out in the high 80s.

August 4

Designated LHP Tyler Olson for Assignment

Optioned RHP Cody Anderson and RHP Austin Adams to Columbus (AAA)

Recalled LHP Ryan Merritt and RHP Mike Clevinger from Columbus (AAA)

Claimed IF Michael Martinez off waivers from the Boston Red Sox

Clevinger was called up to replace Salazar in the rotation, while Merritt was added in case Clevinger couldn’t go deep into the game. Merritt would end up pitching in the finale versus the Twins, throwing a scoreless ninth after the Indians blew the game open a couple innings earlier.

That the Indians would bring Martinez if possible in my mind was always a given, and after hearing the Red Sox had designated him knew it was just a matter of time. The good news now is that there’s really no regular role for Martinez on the roster. Jose Ramirez is the everyday third baseman, and the Indians have two right-handed outfielders on the bench. The only time Martinez should be used is in late-game pinch-running situations, or if Francona wants to give Lindor/Kipnis/Ramirez a rare day off.

I’ll throw out this prediction: Michael Martinez will not make more than three starts in important games; in other words, games played before the Indians either have clinch a playoff berth or after being eliminated from playoff contention). If he makes more than four starts, then I fear for the worst.

August 5

Activated IF Michael Martinez

Optioned IF Erik Gonzalez and LHP Ryan Merritt to Columbus (AAA)

Recalled LHP Shawn Morimando from Columbus (AAA)

Sent OF Joey Butler outright to Columbus (AAA)

Released 3B Juan Uribe

Gonzalez wasn’t going to play much down the stretch (see my Martinez prediction above), and of course didn’t have that extra something that Martinez had, so he’ll be a Clipper for the rest of the AAA season. Gonzalez will be out of options starting in 2017, though, so he’s going to have to be on the 25-man roster going forward.

Morimando was brought up in case Josh Tomlin struggled in his start against the Yankees. And he was needed, and pitched poorly.

August 6

Sent RHP Joseph Colon on rehab assignment to Columbus (AAA)

Optioned LHP Shawn Morimando to Columbus (AAA)

Recalled LHP TJ House from Columbus (AAA)

Colon should be first reliever activated from the DL, and would presumably replace House on the roster. With Kluber and Carrasco both going deep in their starts, and Monday’s off-day, the Indians (knock on wood) seem to have weathered the pitching storm.

Minor-League Transactions

August 1

AA: Signed RHP Lendy Castillo to a minor-league contract

You might be wondering who was pitching in the minors with all the callups the Indians had to make, and how they’d fill those innings. Well, the Indians filled those with a combination of emergency promotions and free agent signings at pretty much every level.

Castillo actually pitched for the Cubs in 2012, but since then has bounced around various minor-league organizations. He started 2016 with the Tigers, but was released in late July.

August 2

Promoted SS Eric Stamets from Akron (AA) to Columbus (AAA)

Promoted RHP Cameron Hill from Lynchburg (A+) to Akron (AA)

Promoted RHP Brock Hartson and RHP Dominic DeMasi from Lake County (A) to Lynchburg (A+)

A: Signed RHP Trevor Foss to a minor-league contract

Foss was pitching in the independent Frontier League; his last minor-league stint was in 2015, pitching in the Angels’ California League affiliate.

August 3

Promoted RHP DJ Brown from Akron (AA) to Columbus (AAA)

Promoted RHP Triston McKenzie from Mahoning Valley (SSA) to Lake County (A)

The biggest prospect-related move the week was Triston McKenzie’s full-season debut. The Indians selected McKenzie in the 2015 draft (42nd overall) and has impressed at every stop. It’s very rare for an 18-year-old in pitch in a full-season league, so take that as a sign of how he’s doing.

August 4

Demoted RHP DJ Brown from Columbus (AAA) to Akron (AA)

Promoted LHP Matt Whitehouse from Lynchburg (A+) to Columbus (AAA)

AAA: Signed LHP Colt Hynes to a minor-league contract

Promoted RHP Argenis Angulo from Lake County (A) to Columbus (AAA)

Promoted 3B Yonathan Mendoza from Mahoning Valley (SSA) to Lynchburg (A+)

Promoted IF Jorma Rodriguez and RHP Cesar Ventura from AZL Indians (R-) to Mahoning Valley (SSA)

Hynes actually pitched in the Cleveland organization earlier in the year, but then I believe opted out of his contract to sign with Toronto. That didn’t work out, and now he’s back with the Indians.

August 5

Demoted LHP Colt Hynes from Columbus (AAA) to Akron (AA)

Demoted RHP Argenis Angulo from Columbus (AAA) to Lake County (A)

August 6

AAA: Signed RHP Shawn Haviland to a minor-league contract

Demoted LHP Matt Whitehouse from Columbus (AAA) to Lynchburg (A+)

Promoted RHP Cortland Cox from Lake County (A) to Akron (AA)

A: Signed RHP Jon Fitzsimmons to a minor-league contract

Haviland was pitching in the independent Atlantic League after getting released from the Red Sox organization. Fitzsimmons has been pitching for the Les Capitales de Quebec of the independent Canada-America Associations since 2015. Yeah, the Indians were desperate for pitching this week.

August 7

Demoted RHP Cameron Hill from Akron (AA) to Lake County (A)

Demoted RHP Cortland Cox from Akron (AA) to Lake County (A)

Demoted LHP Kenny Matthews from Lake County (A) to Mahoning Valley (SSA)

August 8

Demoted SS Eric Stamets from Columbus (AAA) to Akron (AA)