Some Players Running Out of Options
By Christian Petrila
David Huff is the southpaw wild card this spring for the Indians. At 28-years-old, he’s already lost out on the fifth rotation spot. Huff was a first-round pick back in 2006 and has been with the Indians his whole career. However, it’s an uphill battle if he hopes to stay with the team a little longer.
Huff’s numbers have never been overly impressive. In his 2009 rookie campaign, he did lead the team with 11 wins. Unfortunately for him, he also had a 5.61 ERA in 128.1 innings. His 2010 season was a disaster. He was a mere 2-11 with a 6.21 ERA. The lowest point of the season was on May 29, when in a game against the New York Yankees, Alex Rodriguez drilled a line drive square off of Huff’s head. After an unspectacular 2011 season, Huff got another shot to prove his worth in the rotation as 2012 wound down. He improved his resume a little bit, going 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA.
Unfortunately for Huff, the mountain has become much steeper with the spring resurgence of Scott Kazmir, comeback of Carlos Carrasco and acquisition of Trevor Bauer. Huff’s ERA sits at 4.50 after 12 innings this spring. It didn’t help his chances at a bullpen spot when fellow lefty Rich Hill was already told that he would make the team’s Opening Day roster. If Huff doesn’t land the final bullpen spot, all signs seem to point to his exit from Cleveland one way or another. Since left-handers are always such sought-after pieces, there’s a chance a team with a weak rotation could find Huff to be a desirable pick-up. Should a suitor emerge, it would make sense for the Indians to get whatever they can for the southpaw. To come away with anything for a 28-year-old pitcher with a career ERA of 5.30 would be a victory for the Tribe.
The second player on the list for the Indians is Ezequiel Carrera. Carrera is the speedy 25-year-old outfielder. Already out of options and with a cluttered outfield, Carrera appears to be the early odd-man out for the Indians. A career .255 hitter, Carrera still has the possibility of improving his game. However, the Indians may not be the team he gets that chance with because Ryan Raburn continues to impress with his eyes set on that fourth and final bench spot, which seems reserved for an outfielder.
It’s not a guarantee that Carrera won’t get the last bench spot. After all, he is hitting a respectable .273 with nine steals in 15 games, but he’s looked at as the underdog after the early tear Raburn was on. So should Carrera not make the team, there’s really one logical option- to trade him. It’s almost a guarantee that Carrera won’t clear waivers once he’s demoted, so the Indians face the risk of losing him with nothing gained. It’s not that the Indians would swipe some team’s top prospect for him, but they could get a smaller-named prospect who could fill out the depth chart in a place like Lake County or Carolina.
Finally, there’s Chris McGuiness. The Indians chose the lefty first baseman from the Texas Rangers in the Rule 5 Draft. Despite winning the Arizona Fall League’s MVP award, McGuiness has no Major League experience. Last season for Double-A Frisco, McGuiness hit .268 with 23 homers and 77 RBI.
The spring has been a completely different story for McGuiness. In 19 games, he’s hitting just .147 with one RBI. He also has 11 strikeouts compared to just three walks. Should he lose out in the race for one of the last two bench spots, the only real option for the Indians would be to send him back to Texas for half the price of what it cost the Indians to select him (it cost the Indians $50,000). Many people would object to letting a 24-year-old with obvious power go for practically nothing, but that’s a move that would make sense for the Indians. There’s no point in trying to keep him on the 25-man roster just to hang on to him if he continues to struggle. It would make more sense simply to offer him back to Texas and fill the bench spot with someone who can better contribute.
The Indians will have a lot of decisions to make in the following few weeks. Not only regarding who they should give the last few roster spots to, but also what they will do with the aforementioned players who have no choice but to make the roster.