Indians transactions: Tribe signs David Cooper

Otto Greule Jr

Tribe adds interesting depth

The Indians have signed first baseman David Cooper to a 1-year Major League deal. Cooper is not yet arbitration eligible, so while terms have not been disclosed, his contract will almost certainly be more near the MLB minimum (~$500,000).

Cooper was actually in the Indians minor league system for part of 2013, he was signed in mid August, played in a few games for Triple-A Columbus, and was then given his release at the end of month, on his own request.

Cooper has limited MLB experience, having played in 27 games for the Blue Jays in 2011, and 45 more with Toronto in 2012. Nothing in his .270/.310/.441 batting line from 226 plate appearances in those seasons really jumps out at you. 24 extra-base hits is a solid total for that amount of playing time, so there's that.

Cooper was Toronto's 1st round pick in 2008, and he put up solid numbers with their Triple-A affiliate in 2011 and 2012 (though it must be noted that the Pacific Coast League is a notorious hitters' league, and Las Vegas is one of the strongest home parks in that league for offense).

2011 24 TOR-min AAA 120 545 170 51 9 67 43 .364 .439 .535 .974 -
2011 24 TOR AL 27 81 15 7 2 7 14 .211 .284 .394 .678 81
2012 25 TOR-min AAA 68 304 82 27 10 37 34 .314 .395 .540 .935 -
2012 25 TOR AL 45 145 42 11 4 4 22 .300 .324 .464 .788 112
2013 26 CLE-min AAA,Rk 13 55 16 3 0 4 3 .314 .364 .373 .736 -

Earlier this year, Cooper underwent a pretty drastic-sounding procedure that involved having a titanium plate connected to his spine. That he was able to play in August means he ought to be at 100% come April, but I wouldn't know how to assess one's ability to come back from such an operation.

Cooper (only 26) is a first baseman, and in theory he could eventually play some games there, or at DH (if Carlos Santana is actually able to play 3B). More likely, the Indians are hoping he can hit well enough to fill the role held byJason Giambi in 2013, while putting up better numbers than the aging slugger did. In any case, while the Major League contract means Cooper will be on the roster, he still has an option remaining, which means he'll almost certainly begin the year in the minors (with either Columbus or Akron), and be given a chance to show that his bat his back before possibly being called up after Memorial Day. In that light, this is a depth signing, and as the Indians system is very light on power, signing someone like Cooper makes sense.


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