Latest 40-man Roster
There are a couple reasons why the roster is so large this early into the month. First, there were several players ready to come off the disabled list as well as Dan Otero returning from the paternity list. So there are four additions there. The other reason is that both Akron and Columbus are not eligible for the postseason. The Cleveland Indians try to accommodate their minor-league affiliates as much as they can, signing players exclusively to help their farm teams have some success, as well as waiting to recall their key players until their playoff run is over. But because neither club is going to make the playoffs, they could recall all the players they were intending to recall right at the beginning of the month. The minor-league regular season is going to end this weekend, so there is some scrambling to fill the roster for the last couple of days, but it’s not anything that’s going to make the Columbus or Akron fans angry.
And so the Indians played their first games of September with 34 active players. The only six players not in uniform yesterday were the four players on the 10-day disabled list (Brantley, Kipnis, Miller, and Salazar), and two players still optioned. Shawn Armstrong couldn’t be recalled because he’d been optioned on August 25th*, but on Tuesday he can return to the Indians, both because the 10 days will have been up, and also because the minor-league season will have ended. The four players on the disabled lis will (hopefully) be activated at some point this month.
That leaves Tyler Naquin, who just might be the only player on the 40-man roster not to join the Indians. There are already 7 outfielders on the active roster (eight once Michael Brantley returns), and there isn’t really a role for Naquin; Bradley Zimmer and Lonnie Chisenhall are going to get most of the center field time, and both are left-hander hitters, and Greg Allen and Zimmer (if he isn’t starting) would be your pinch-runner options if needed. The Indians could recall him anyway, but I don’t see him getting much playing time even if they do, what with Chisenhall needing to get ramped up for the playoffs, as well as Michael Brantley once he returns. I guess what I’m saying is that Naquin’s window of opportunity with the Indians seems to have closed.
Now that we’re in September and the Indians have built themselves an eight-game lead in the division, it’s time for a quick refresher on postseason roster eligibility. A player must have been on that club’s 40-man roster or a major-league disabled list as of August 31 to be eligible to play for that club in the postseason; that’s why you saw that flurry of trades on Thursday. The only player currently on the 40-man roster but ineligible to be on the postseason roster is Greg Allen, as he was added to the 40-man on September 1. However, he could be added to the roster as a replacement for an injured player; replacements just had to have been in the organization as of August 31.
The Injury Front
Danny Salazar (elbow) threw a simulated game yesterday, and if there’s no pain afterwards, the next step would be activation.
Jason Kipnis (hamstring) has been running, but no other news.
Michael Brantley (ankle) on the other hand hasn’t yet been cleared to run.
Andrew Miller (knee) has been playing catch on flat ground. I would imagine the next step would be throwing off the mound.
He’s had 10 Plate Appearances since his debut on August 17th. While the Orioles are still in contention, I wouldn’t expect him to get much playing time.
Recalled LHP Ryan Merritt from Columbus (AAA)
Optioned RHP Shawn Armstrong to Columbus (AAA)
Yet again another planned one-and-done start for Ryan Merritt, as the plan was for Josh Tomlin to come off the DL to make the start on August 30. Events would play out differently, though.
Optioned LHP Ryan Merritt to Columbus (AAA)
Designated RHP Diego Romero for Assignment
Purchased the Contract of Craig Breslow; Recalled him
Breslow was in the Indians organization for the first couple months of the 2008 season. The Indians claimed him off waivers on March 23 after cutting bait on Aaron Fultz (see here for the LGT article) and was DFAed in late May (LGT article) to make room on the 25-man roster for Joe Borowski’s return from the DL. Breslow would be claimed off waivers by the Twins, and would have quite a nice career for himself obviously, as he’s still kicking around 9 seasons later. Breslow’s role is going to be as a LOOGy, taking some pressure off Tyler Olson until Andrew Miller returns.
If you’re wondering, Joe Smith and Craig Breslow weren’t on the Tribe roster at the same time in early 2008; Smith was first acquired by the Indians after the 2008 season.
Sent RHP Diego Romero outright to Columbus (AAA)
Placed RHP Dan Otero on the Paternity List
Recalled LHP Ryan Merritt from Columbus (AAA)
Recalled RHP Shawn Armstrong from Columbus (AAA) - 26th man
The Indians were able to recall Merritt before his 10 days were up because of Otero’s absence, which worked out perfectly for the team. Merritt started the second game of the doubleheader, and the Indians were able to call up another pitcher just in case they needed an extra arm. Because Otero didn’t return until September 1, Merritt didn’t have to hop on a plane after his start. Meanwhile Armstrong, who knows all about flights to Columbus, had to return there after the double header.
Activated OF Lonnie Chisenhall, OF Abraham Almonte and RHP Josh Tomlin from the Disabled List
Activated RHP Dan Otero from the Paternity List
Recalled RHP Dylan Baker; placed him on the 60-day Disabled List
Purchased the Contract of OF Greg Allen from Akron (AA); Recalled him
Recalled LHP Shawn Morimando, RHP Adam Plutko, and LHP Kyle Crockett from Columbus (AAA)
Recalled C Francisco Mejia from Akron (AA)
I first want to look at how the Indians made room for Greg Allen on the 40-man roster. Dylan Baker had been pitching in relief for Akron, but apparently came down with an injury in the last couple days. Because he was on optional assignment, he’d normally be placed on the minor-league disabled list, but because the Indians wanted to clear up a 40-man roster spot, they recalled him to the active roster, then place him on the 60-day Disabled List. So Baker, even though he hasn’t appeared in a major-league game, will have roughly 30 days of service time by the time the season ends.
Greg Allen was a 6th round pick in 2014, and had a breakout season with the Ducks last year. He’s a very good defender in the outfield, has an excellent throwing arm, and is a disruptive force on the base paths. So I think he can have a role down the stretch as a pinch-runner/defensive replacement, and perhaps nab a postseason roster spot. However, he would have to make the roster as an injury replacement, as he wasn’t on the 40-man roster on August 31.
Francisco Mejia won’t get much playing time, but I think he’ll get a lot out of his time with the Indians this month. He’ll have a chance to catch some bullpen sessions, get to know his future teammates, and work with the major-league staff. The Indians are going to have play some third base in the AFL and in the Winter Leagues, but I think that’s more to reduce the number of innings he’s behind the plate than a permanent position change.
Morimando and Plutko shouldn’t pitch much, at least while the Indians are playing for something.
*He was used as the 26th man for Wednesday’s doubleheader, but that doesn’t reset the 10-day period.