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Week(s) in Indians Transactions: Prepping for spring training

In which a good LOOGy came to those who waited.

San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies
Boone Logan
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Latest 25-man/40-man Roster

(click to embiggen)

The Indians have been very active with the bottom 15 players on the 40-man roster this winter, probably because that’s where they could expend their energy. There are just 3 players on the projected 25-man roster that weren’t in the organization last year: free agents Edwin Encarnacion and Boone Logan, and Rule 5 selection Hoby Milner. Or instead of Milner you could substitute anyone from the copious number of pitchers on the roster (or on the NRI list) - the Logan signing makes Milner redundant, though they could still try to keep him if he does impress this spring.

Getting beyond the activity in the bottom 15, the Indians maintained a similar imbalance of pitching, in fact increasing that imbalance when they designated Jesus Aguilar for assignment. There are now 13 pitchers among those final 15 players on the roster, and while the Indians are holding true to Terry Francona’s philosophy of never having enough pitching, that imbalance probably won’t (or can’t) hold over the course of the season. Of the two position players among the 15, only Giovanny Urshela has reached AAA, and he had a poor 2016. The Indians do have position player depth (Yandy Diaz, Greg Allen, Austin Jackson, Richie Shaffer, Bradley Zimmer), but it’s just not on the 40-man roster.

Transactions

January 30

Acquired RHP Carlos Frias from the Los Angeles Dodgers for PTBNL

Designed IF Richie Shaffer for Assignment

Frias was in essence a waiver claim, as he had been designated for assignment the week before. He wasn’t going to get much of a shot with the Dodgers, and although his situation improves by going to the Indians, it’s not improving that much. Frias spent much of 2016 on either the minor-league or major-league Disabled List, with his September stint setting a major-league record for players on the DL in one season.

Even if Frias doesn’t make the club, the Indians can option him to Columbus. He is by trade a starter, and should pitch in the Clipper rotation this spring.

I’ll talk more about Shaffer below.

February 2

Outrighted IF Richie Shaffer to Columbus (AAA)

Milwaukee Brewers claimed 1B Jesus Aguilar off waivers

It is appropriate that Shaffer’s winter journey finally ended on Groundhog Day. He started the offseason with Tampa Bay, the organization that drafted him, but in the span of 3 months, he would be involved in 4 different transactions:

Nov 18: Traded to Seattle

Dec 14: Claimed off waivers by Philadelphia

Dec 23: Claimed off waivers by Cincinnati

Jan 26: Claimed off waivers by Cleveland

So if you include Tampa Bay, that’s five different organizations for Shaffer since the end of the 2016 campaign. With Aguilar’s departure, Shaffer should see most of the playing time at 1B in Columbus.

Aguilar had been in the Cleveland organization since just after the 2007 season, signed less than a month since the Indians were eliminated in Game 7 of the ALCS. He had been in the organization longer than Michael Brantley (2008), Lonnie Chisenhall (2008), and pretty much every other position player on the current roster. He never really got a shot with the Indians, and perhaps a change in organizations will help.

February 7

Signed LHP Boone Logan to a one-year, $5.5M contract (2018 option)

Designated RHP Austin Adams for assignment

The contract could be considered $6.5M contract because there is a $1M buyout if the Indians don’t pick up the team option. Like with Encarnacion and the 1B/DH market, the Indians waiting out the reliever market paid off. Logan throughout his career has been an effective matchup reliever against left-handed hitters, and was especially good in 2016 with the Rockies:

vs LHB: .142/.222/.255

vs RHB: .211/.338/.421

I’d expect Logan to end the season with more appearances than innings. His presence should help to limit Andrew Miller’s innings during the regular season, as the Indians

February 10

Traded RHP Austin Adams to the Los Angeles Angels for Cash

Signed LHP Luis Perez to a minor-league contract (NRI)

Adams had a disastrous 2016, allowing 27 hits to 88 of the batters he faced. And 16 of those hits were for extra bases.

Perez spent 2016 in Japan, and last pitched in the majors in 2013. He’s a former teammate of Edwin Encarnacion, who recommended him to the Indians.

February 14

Signed LHP Chris Narveson to a minor-league contract (NRI)

Narveson mostly pitched out of the rotation in AAA New Orleans last season, but made 6 appearances out of the bullpen for the Marlins. His last full season came with the Brewers in 2011.

February 15

Signed LHP James Russell to a minor-league contract (NRI)