The Indians have announced that Aaron Harang will not make the initial starting rotation. Harang has pitched fairly well this spring, but Carlos Carrasco and Josh Tomlin are both probably ahead of him for the fifth spot in the rotation, and Trevor Bauer remains in the mix as well. Management would love for Harang to stay in the system, but he has an out-clause in his contract for Monday, which means he can opt out of the deal to seek other work tomorrow if he wants. If he chooses not to opt out, the Indians owe him $100,000, and he'd be sent to Triple-A.
It would be nice to have a starter with Harang's experience in Columbus, available for a spot start for the Indians when needed. His overall numbers were't good last year, but he did manage to pitch two complete game shutouts, proof that on the right day he's still very capable of success. Francona says he'd be surprised if Harang can't find a Major League job, so expect him to exercise the clause and depart.
Francona was also asked who would serve as the team's third catcher, and said it would be Elliot Johnson. I cannot find a single game in his Minor or Major League career in which he played catcher, but given his versatility, I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised to learn the team thinks he can serve there in a pinch. That announcement may not mean much of anything, but I wonder if it's telling us what's going to happen at third base. Lonnie Chisenhall will be there for the second game in a row later today, while he and Carlos Santana had been taking turns until now.
Francona announcing the team's third catcher will be a guy who's never actually played there as a professional seems like a sign that Santana is expected to play there at least once a week, and I can't see team expecting Carlos to play third base more than occasionally if he's the regular second-string catcher. The team still hasn't told Chisenhall he's made the team, but I think that announcement will arrive in the net 24 hours or so. Perhaps he and Carlos will be in semi-platoon at the hot corner, but I expect Lonnie to start there at least 75% of the time to begin the year.