This past week the young players that weren't going to make the club (Francisco Lindor among them) were sent to minor-league camp, leaving the veteran NRIs, or those with serious chances of making the major-league club. That means that those NRIs that remain will get a lot of playing time over the next couple weeks. On the position player side the battles are largely among NRIs (with Justin Sellers and David Adams the exceptions), while on the pitching side the battles are largely among players already on the 40-man roster. What that will probably mean is that one or more of the losers in the pitching battles will be taken off the 40-man roster to make room for the winners of the position player battles. For instance, if the Indians would add Nyjer Morgan to the rotser as one of the bench players, Scott Barnes would be Designated for Assignment.
It's a given that Marcum will be going to Columbus to start the season, because he isn't going to be stretched out by Opening Day. What isn't a given is when (or if) he'll get a chance to join the rotation. We all thought that Daisuke Matsuzaka would spend just a brief amount of time in Columbus before joining the Cleveland rotation, but he stayed down in the minors almost the entire season, and when he did make his 2013 MLB debut, it was with the New York Mets.
The Indians are trying to limit Salazar's innings early in the season so that they won't have to worry about his workload at the end of the season, when it could be much more difficult to limit them. Salazar threw 145 innings last year between the minors and the majors, so ramping up to 180 innings or so isn't going to be huge jump. But it does bear mentioning that 93 of those 2013 inning were less-stressful minor-league innings. That is a big reason why the Indians are being so careful with Salazar this spring.
Latest 25-man/40-man roster
(click to embiggen)
(the optioned players are highlighted in blue, and the injured players are highlighted in red)
I've made a couple adjustments to the projected 25-man roster, based on last week's events:
- I've swapped Carlos Carrasco for Frank Herrmann on the 25-man roster. Herrmann is not going to be ready for Opening Day, and because Carlos Carrasco is out of options, the Indians are going to bend over backwards to keep the talented pitcher in the organization. I'm also still assuming that the Indians will be going with an eight-man bullpen, at least initially, and Jason Giambi's injury will make it easier to go with just three bench players (after Danny Salazar joins the rotation).
- I've also moved Justin Sellers to the 25-man roster, though at this point that last bench job is still up in the air. The Indians could go with Elliot Johnson, Nyjer Morgan, Jeff Francoeur, or even Matt Carson and it wouldn't surprise me.
- I'm sticking with Josh Tomlin as the fifth starter. Yes, technically Danny Salazar will be the fifth starter, but I'm talking in terms of making the club, ergo the last starter to be named to the rotation. It seems inevitable that Trevor Bauer will head to Columbus, and Shaun Marcum just isn't going to be stretched out in time to start the season.
- I'm also still going with the assumption that Carlos Santana will be the everyday DH and backup catcher, with Lonnie Chisenhall playing most of the time at third base. If Santana is going to play at third regularly, the Indians will probably have to add a third catcher to the roster, which would probably be Matt Treanor, with Chisenhall going to Columbus.
AL Central News
It seems really odd for a player to potentially miss a season with a shin injury, but apparently Iglesias is suffering from a recurring leg condition and that is why he would potentially miss a large chunk of the season. Iglesias is one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball, and losing him will affect Detroit's run prevention even more than his bat. Detroit's in-house replacement might be able to duplicate Iglesias' production at the plate, but won't come close to replacing his glove.
Assuming all this is true, and Iglesias will miss a large portion of the season, the Tigers signing Stephen Drew seems a logical outcome of all this. Yes, the Tigers would have to give up a first round pick to sign him, but Drew is a 3-4 win player, and nobody in house is going to come close to matching that type of production. There's always the possibility of a trade, but again, nobody of Drew's caliber is going to be available, and even a decent shortstop is going to cost them a prospect, and probably one on par with a low first-round pick.
The dreaded oblique injury strikes again, this time to Gordon Beckham, who was injured (or playing through injuries) much of last year.
Perkins, who was previously signed through 2015, is now under club control through at least 2017. And there's a club option for 2018. The AAV of the deal is $5.37M/year, a pretty decent price for a closer. The risk is the length of the deal, as relievers tend to go from great to horrible in a very short amount of time. Still, Perkins has been one of the best relievers in baseball over the past 3 years, and it does seem a team-friendly deal.