The End of the Jack Hannahan, Plus Tribe News and Notes
By Mike Brandyberry
Did I miss something? Did the Indians let another great player walk out the door? I thought it was just Jack Hannahan?
Friday the Indians non-tendered third baseman Jack Hannahan, and left-handed pitchers Rafael Perez and Chris Seddon. All three immediately become free agents and are able to sign with any team. Perez was designated for assignment on Wednesday when Nick Hagadone was reinstated to the 40-man roster. Seddon was designated for assignment earlier in the day Friday when the Tribe claimed first baseman Mike McDade off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays.
Hannahan hit .244, with four home runs and 29 runs batted in during the 2012 season. Originally the Opening Day third baseman, Hannahan struggled and was hampered by back injuries throughout the season. He split time with Jose Lopez and then Lonnie Chisenhall when he could not remain the regular starter. According to MLBTraderumors.com, they projected Hannahan would command $1.5 million through salary arbitration. Since the Indians are committed to Chisenhall at third base for 2013, Hannahan becomes an expendable salary and roster spot.
While Hannahan may be one of the best teammates and good guy stories when his Tribe teammates paid for a charter jet to fly him home from Boston for the birth of his son, he isn’t the greatest baseball player. Primarily a one-dimensional defensive player, he is a luxury the Indians can’t afford on a $65 million budget, nor on a roster that normally only carries 13 position players.
If Hannahan isn’t a starter, he has to be able to play more than one position well when coming off the bench. Even though Hannahan had occasional appearances at shortstop and first base in his two seasons with the Tribe, he is hardly a viable option as a legit replacement at either spot.
The door now clearly opens for Chisenhall, who hit .268, with five home runs and 16 runs batted in, in 43 games during 2012 will become part of the Tribe’s young core moving forward. The 24-year old, former first round draft pick deserves the chance to play daily. Had he broken his arm on June 28 in Baltimore, Hannahan could have been designated for assignment during the Indians’ second half slide to create more playing time for Chisenhall.
So, while the Indians may have lost a good guy in the clubhouse and a good story, they got better on Friday when third base was officially handed over to the young, developing Chisenhall and he no longer has to look over his shoulder to compete with the aging journeyman.
News and Notes
* The Indians did tender contracts to the remaining seven players who are eligible for salary arbitration. The Indians have until mid-January to negotiate a contract with each of the players or begin the arbitration process. In January organizations and players exchange salary figures for arbitration hearings in February. The Indians have not gone to salary arbitration since 1991 with Jerry Browne. The Indians avoided arbitration with Blake Wood on Thursday, settling on a contract for 2013 for $560k.
* Many of the Tribe’s arbitration eligible players are also subject to trade talks, and those should intensify over the next week at the Winter Meetings. Justin Masterson, Shin-Soo Choo and Chris Perez are each arbitration eligible and have been rumored to be discussed in deals. All 30 organizations convene in Nashville, Tennessee beginning Monday and seems at least one of the trio–or Asdrubal Cabrera–could be dealt during the meetings.
* The only player being tendered a contract on Friday of any surprise was Lou Marson. He wasn’t likely to be non-tendered, but still a possibility. Receiving a tender from the Indians is an indication that Marson’s playing time may increase with Carlos Santana receiving more time as the designated hitter and first baseman. Marson has always been honest in his belief that he can be a starter at the big league level.
* Friday Corey Kluber underwent a right knee meniscectomy at the Cleveland Clinic. He injured the knee playing with his daughter at his home in Jacksonville, Florida. The 26-year old right-handed pitcher is expected to be unrestricted at the start of exhibition play in late February. Kluber is expected to compete for a job in the starting rotation this spring.
* Quietly, the Indians are making over their 40-man roster. Since the end of the season the Indians have added eight new players to the roster and that does not include moving Carlos Carrasco and Josh Tomlin back from the disabled list or reinstating Hagadone. To date, the biggest acquisition is still Mike Aviles–hardly a blockbuster–but it is clear the Tribe is parting ways with several players who were once supposed to be part of the franchise moving forward. Before a major shake-up, there are usually small tremors. The waters have been trembling, maybe the real earthquake begins this week in Nashville.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images