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After Arbitration Settlements, Tribe Roster Close to Taking Final Shape

After Arbitration Settlements, Tribe Roster Close to Taking Final Shape

| On 19, Jan 2013

Friday the Indians agreed to contracts with six of their seven arbitration-eligible players, leaving only Mike Aviles as the lone road block to keeping the Tribe’s record of avoiding arbitration since 1991.

Cleveland settled on one-year deals with Drew Stubbs ($2.825 million), Chris Perez ($7.3 million), Justin Masterson ($5.6875 million), Joe Smith ($3.15 million), Matt Albers ($1.75 million) and Lou Marson ($1 million). Arbitration figures were reported by Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. Most settlements were for slightly more than what was projected for the player by MLBTradeRumors.

After the 1 pm deadline passed the Indians and Aviles exchanged arbitration figures, with Aviles reportedly asking for $3.4 million, while the Cleveland offered $2.4 million. The two sides have until mid-February to reach a contract on their own or an independent arbiter will decide between one of the two submitted figures. Aviles hit .250 with 13 home runs, with 60 runs batted in last season in Boston. It was his best year as a big leaguer and only as a full-time starter. Cleveland plans to use him as a utility player, giving rest to Lonnie Chisenhall, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis.

Also from the arbitration settlements, it appears Perez will the Indians second-highest paid player behind Nick Swisher in 2013. Perez narrowly edges out free agent acquisition Brett Myers. Perez saved 39 games, in 61 games, with a 3.59 ERA. Cleveland had little choice but to commit to Perez after it appears their asking price was too high in trade talks, but the ninth-inning closer now makes a large salary for a player who only enters the game after eight innings of success by the rest of the team.

The arbitration settlements from Friday do push the Indians closer to the $80 million threshold they are believed to be their self-imposed salary cap. In addition to the Tribe payroll, they still owe former designated hitter Travis Hafner his $2.75 million buyout to not pick up his option for 2013. Cleveland also sent $3.5 million to the Cincinnati Reds in the trade that sent Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds and Trevor Bauer from Arizona to Cleveland.

While Cleveland still lacks a true designated hitter, rumors have swirled this week that the Tribe has interest in either Hafner or Jim Thome. Hafner hit .228, with 12 home runs and 34 runs batted in, in only 66 games in 2013. Hafner’s $13 million club option was declined by Cleveland in late October. Thome hit .252, with eight home runs and 25 runs batted in during 58 games between Philadelphia and Baltimore. Neither Thome or Hafner could play every day any longer with their long list of lingering injuries.

Yesterday manager Terry Francona was clear at an Indians Town Hall meeting that the Tribe is content to enter 2013 without a true designated hitter, but are considering other options. Francona said he would use the DH spot to keep some players in the lineup who could use a rest or were not 100% due to injury.

Several players raved yesterday about Francona’s effort this offseason to meet and build rapport with members of the roster. Francona has previously mentioned his concern to build a comfort with the players as quickly as possible.

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