Signed OF Trot Nixon to a One-Year, $3M Contract
The deal includes $2M in incentives, which are based on playing time. He'll receive $250k for making 200 plate appearances, and then an additional $250K for each 50 plate appearances after that. The earnings are peaked at 550 plate appearances, but a number of things (platoons, durability) aren't going to allow him to reach that mark.
Let me get one thing out of the way before I get to Nixon's game: I'm not a huge long-term fan of Shin-Soo Choo. He has several major-league quality tools, but nothing that he does really stands out. With his arm, he's best served in right field, but I don't know if he'll hit for all that much power. He has holes in his swing. And although he has speed, hasn't been much of a base-stealer in the minors.
That being said, I think he'd be more productive this year than Nixon. Why? Nixon just can't stay healthy.
Trot is still a good defensive outfielder, probably even at this point better than Choo. He's had to play in probably the toughest right field in baseball his entire career, so playing the very conventional right field at the Jake won't be an issue. When he's been healthy, he's hit right-handers very well, and he can take a walk as well as make contact when needed. The Indians were planning on having Casey Blake play right field against left-handers, so they have a platoon partner on hand.
The Indians are trumpeting Nixon's post-season experience, which only matters if he's good enough to help the Indians get there in the first place.
But I still go back to his durability. Nixon's going to turn 33 in April, and he hasn't been able to stay off the DL for an entire season since 2003. I guess in some ways this is good for Shin-Soo Choo because it's not really matter of if, but when he gets another chance. Choo doesn't have anything to prove in AAA, and all this does is delay his full-time debut another season. He does become a trading chip, and if the Indians have already decided he's not part of the long-term plans, it might be better to stash him in AAA and let him put up some nice numbers.
This signing is pretty low-risk, and the money wasn't going to be used anywhere else. If Nixon gets hurt for an extended period of time, then Choo gets his shot anyway. Probably the worst case scenario is if Nixon tries to play his way through an injury, like he did last season. The move gives the Indians more depth, but besides that, was unnecessary.
Designated RHP Jeremy Guthrie for Assignment
This was going to happen sooner than later given the roster configuration. Guthrie's going to get claimed on waivers: for all his problems, he still has good stuff, and most importantly has been pretty durable. The Indians should be able to work a trade, and I'd be pretty disappointed if they didn't.