Placed Fausto Carmona* on Restricted List
Placing a player on the Restricted List removes him from the 40-man Roster and also stops his pay. Usually players that are placed on this list have been suspended by MLB for testing positive for Performance-Enhancing Drugs, or off-field legal issues (for example, the White Sox placed Alexei Ramirez on the Restricted List when they traveled to Toronto because the shortstop's work visa prevented him from re-entering the United States); in this case Indians used it for the latter reason. Carmona/Heredia is still under contract with the Indians while on the Restricted List.
The move seems to signal that the Indians will not attempt to void Carmona's contract, at least for now. Going from 28 to 31 years old is a big deal when it comes to free agency, but as Carmona is already under contract for the 2012 season, it shouldn't change the Indians' plans for him this year, assuming, of course, he can enter the country. He was slated for a spot in the rotation, and if he takes care of his legal and visa problems, he'd go back into the rotation, even if he doesn't arrive in the US until mid-season.
Indians manager Manny Acta, who was in the Cleveland area on Thursday for the team's "Tribe on Tour" event, said Carmona is still considered a big part of the team's rotation.
"He's a very important part of it," Acta said. "You don't find 200 innings on every corner of America. Just two years ago, he had 210 quality innings. But, life goes on."
Why did Carmona resort to purchasing someone else's identity? Because when he signed with the Indians, he was 20 years old, and even someone that young is too old for an amateur free agent from the Dominican Republic. Players in the US who don't get drafted high enough or drafted at all coming out of high school have the opportunity to play at the collegiate level and get a second opportunity to get a big bonus three years later at age 20 or 21, but that wasn't an option for Carmona.
"I believe that Major League Baseball is doing a tremendous job right now to help better the system," Acta said. "But, it's just been a flawed system for a long time, because you can be 21 [years old] and be a first-round pick out of college here [in the United States].
"When was the last time that anyone that was 21 was signed out of [the Dominican Republic] that you knew was 21? It's a system that in the past has forced those kids to do some of that stuff.
*Real name Roberto Hernandez Heredia
Signed RHP Dan Wheeler to a Minor-League Contract; Invited him to Spring Training
The Indians added yet another NRI to their already crowded list by signing Dan Wheeler to a minor-league deal. Wheeler pitched with the Red Sox last season, missing the last three weeks of the season with a right forearm injury. The arm injury, along with a poor (for a setup man) season both contributed to him having to take a minor-league deal. Wheeler immediately becomes a frontrunner for the open bullpen spot; in his second stint with Tampa Bay, he averaged 68 appearances from 2008-2010, and posted a .975 WHIP. If he's healthy, he should make the team.