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Week in Transactions: Cleveland Indians finalize Opening Day rosters

The Indians have made their final roster decisions.

MLB: Spring Training-Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Indians
Yandy Diaz has been freed
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Indians haven’t officially made their final pre-season roster moves, though the above should match the April 3 roster with the exception the player to be designated for assignment. I’m expecting Cody Anderson to be moved to the 60-day disabled list, and probably one of the minor-league pitchers (Cooney? Frias? Colon?) will be designated.

The big news is that Yandy Diaz has made the club as a replacement for Jason Kipnis. Diaz be added to the 40-man roster (along with Michael Martinez) sometime between the end of tonight’s game and Monday. I do want to emphasize that this is a temporary assignment, as Diaz will, barring another injury, be optioned to Triple-A once Kipnis returns from the disabled list (meaning that Jose Ramirez — owner of a shiny new contract extension — will return to third base). Diaz’s main competition was Giovanny Urshela, who is the better fielder of the two (and was also already on the 40-man roster), but Diaz overcame those two disadvantages* by putting on a hitting clinic over the past couple weeks.

Abraham Almonte is another player that will make the club because of an injury. I’ve placed Almonte as the regular right fielder, though he’ll probably play everywhere in the outfield, depending on the pitcher and Michael Brantley’s schedule. The Indians do have an option remaining on him, so Abe would be the likely candidate to return to the minors once Chisenhall is healthy. The Indians could conceivably option Tyler Naquin instead, though I don’t see that much of a fall from grace in only ten days.

Shawn Armstrong has made the club as the final reliever in the bullpen, but his spot is rather tenuous, as he’s the only reliever that has an option**. The Indians have basically the entire Columbus pitching staff on the 40-man roster, so expect that final spot in the bullpen to be revolving door all season.

Michael Martinez has also made the club as the utility infielder, and while I think Erik Gonzalez is a better player, I’m not going to rage about it given that Martinez should rarely play. I could see Francona using him as a late-inning defensive replacement for Yandy Diaz, which will elicit some groans, but as long as Diaz gets ten times the at-bats as Martinez I promise not to complain. Too much.

*Diaz’s defense has been talked about quite a bit this spring by everyone from Terry Francona to commentators, but we’re not really going to get a true read on it until he plays in major-league games. Diaz played almost exclusively in the outfield this winter, so that could be part of the concern, but he played third base at both the AA and AAA levels in 2016, so it’s not like he’s returning to a position from the distant past.

**Yes, Cody Allen has an option as well, but c’mon.



Returned LHP Hoby Milner to Philadelphia (Rule 5)


Optioned LHP Kyle Crockett, RHP Carlos Frias, and RHP Nick Goody to Columbus (AAA)


Purchased the contract of OF Austin Jackson


Optioned 3B Giovanny Urshela and IF Erik Gonzalez to Columbus (AAA)

Latest 40-man roster