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Week(s) in Transactions: After Encarnacion

Everything that happened after the Indians signed Edwin Encarnacion

Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox
Austin Jackson
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

As it turned out, the Indians weren’t quite done with their 2016-2017 offseason. They’ve signed Brandon Guyer to a contract extension, signed Austin Jackson to a minor-league deal, and yesterday made a waiver claim that might end up helping them this season.


January 10

Released LHP Edwin Escobar (signed with KBO)

Escobar was designated for assignment when the Indians added another EE (Edwin Encarnacion) to their roster. Escobar will get a better paycheck in Korea, and the exposure might help him when he returns to the States.

January 13

Signed Steve Delabar to a minor-league contract (NRI)

Delabar actually made an All-Star team while with Toronto in 2013 (meanwhile, Travis Hafner was never an All-Star). The Indians usually like to sign a couple of reliever reclamation projects a winter, and recently at least one a season has paid off (Scott Atchison, Matt Albers, Jeff Manship, Dan Otero). Delabar’s velocity has slipped in the last couple years, but he can still throw in the low-90s (averaged 93 mph from 2014-2016).

Signed RHP Cody Allen ($7.35M), RHP Bryan Shaw ($4.6M), OF Lonnie Chisenhall ($4.3M), RHP Trevor Bauer ($3.55M), RHP Danny Salazar ($3.4M), Zach McCallister ($1.85M), Dan Otero ($1.055) (via to one-year contracts

These signings all avoided arbitration hearings, something that the Indians have tried to stay away from - the only recent hearing was with Vinnie Pestano before the 2014 season. This left Brandon Guyer as the only arbitration-eligible player unsigned, but that wouldn’t be long....

January 18

Signed OF Brandon Guyer to 2-year, $5M extension (2019 team option)

The 2019 option is worth $3M, with a buyout of $250,000. The Indians will pay Guyer $2M in 2017, $2.75 in 2018, and at least $250K in 2019. The contract is much like the deal the Indians gave Josh Tomlin before the 2016 season, a contract that gives a role player some guaranteed money while giving the club a potential extra year of control (Guyer is eligible for free agency after the 2018 season). With an outfield full of left-handed hitters who are also under team control through 2018, Guyer is a perfect fit on this roster.

It is interesting that the Indians signed Guyer to an extension while only signing Lonnie Chisenhall for one season; Chisenhall is also eligible for free agency in two seasons. The thinking could be that they may want to non-tender Chisenhall after this season if Naquin can firmly establish himself as a major-league hitter. I think Naquin is a better fit in right field, and the Indians have a couple options in the high minors that could fill the center field role (Zimmer, Allen).

January 19

Signed LHP Kelvin De la Cruz to a minor-league contract

Kelvin spent the first six seasons of his professional career with the Indians, and now returns to the Cleveland organization. He spent 2016 with various independent teams.

January 20

Invited SS Eric Stamets, 2B Ronny Rodriguez, 1B Nellie Rodriguez, LHP Tyler Olson, RHP Josh Martin, CF Greg Allen, CF Bradley Zimmer, and OF Yandy Diaz to Spring Training

Most followers of this site will know the big names among this bunch. Zimmer, Diaz, and Allen should all see considerable playing time this spring, with the top performer perhaps getting the first shot with the major-league club. To say the outfield is unsettled is perhaps understating the situation; Chisenhall and Guyer seem locked in place in right, but Tyler Naquin ended the season with a serious hole in his swing, and everyone knows about Michael Brantley’s shoulder. So I wouldn’t be surprised if each of the three young outfielders sees significant time in Cleveland this season.

January 25

Signed CF Austin Jackson to a minor-league contract (NRI)

Jackson, if he makes the club will make a $1.5M base salary, with the possibility of earning $4M more in incentives. If he’s the everyday starting center fielder, he’d be about as much as Rajai Davis made in 2016. Jackson is a different type of player than Davis, though; he’ll be a better defender, but not as productive an offensive player. Jackson had some early success with Detroit, but has struggled to make solid contact since those early years.

January 26

Claimed IF Richie Shaffer off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds

Designated 1B Jesus Aguilar for Assignment

Shaffer started the offseason with Tampa Bay, but since then:

Nov 18: Traded to Seattle

Dec 14: Claimed off waivers by Philadelphia

Dec 24: Claimed off waivers by Cincinnati

So the Indians are his fourth team of the offseason, which might be some kind of record. Shaffer was selected in the first round of the 2012 draft by the Rays, 10 picks after the Indians selected Tyler Naquin, and like Naquin, Shaffer has had trouble making contact over his short MLB career. But unlike Naquin, Shaffer has shown some patience both in the minors and the majors. The Indians can option him to AAA, so that’s likely where he’ll start the 2017 campaign. With Aguilar now out of the picture, he’s probably the first option called upon if either Encarnacion or Santana are placed on the Disabled List.

As for Aguilar, I think the Indians didn’t see enough progress from him as a hitter to keep him around another year. With the Encarnacion signing, the chances of him getting extended playing time was going to be slim anyways, but Shaffer claim was the final straw. I think he’ll be claimed by somebody.

Latest 25-man/40-man Roster (click to embiggen)

Jan 27 2017

I have the Opening Day roster costing the Indians $118M (this includes Chris Johnson), which would be the highest in franchise history by quite a bit. Cot’s has the team’s previous high-water mark at $96M (2016), then $95M (2001).