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Busy Friday News Day Affects Trio of Tribe Relievers

Busy Friday News Day Affects Trio of Tribe Relievers

| On 09, Jan 2016

The Cleveland Indians bullpen was a source of three separate news stories on Friday, but the status of manager Terry Francona’s relief corps for the 2016 season remains a cloudy picture.

The club announced that they had traded reliever Kirby Yates to the New York Yankees for cash considerations. Yates, who had been acquired in similar fashion by the Indians in November, had been designated for assignment by the club when the Indians made the signing of first baseman Mike Napoli official earlier in the week.

Yates had spent his entire professional career in the Tampa Bay Rays organization until he was designated for assignment by the Rays, who were creating space on their 40-man roster for minor league prospect additions in advance of the Rule 5 draft. The 28-year-old right-hander struggled in limited action last year while bouncing between the Rays’ parent club and their Triple-A affiliate at Durham. He was 1-0 in 20 games for Tampa in 2015 with a 7.97 ERA. He allowed ten homers and 18 earned runs in 20 1/3 innings.

He was thought to be a potential right-handed option for the Indians bullpen for the coming season, but those chances may have dwindled some when Cleveland acquired another right-hander, Dan Otero, in a cash swap with the Philadelphia Phillies in mid-December.

Cleveland also cleared up the contract situation of one of their arbitration-eligible pitchers, Zach McAllister.

The starter-turned-reliever signed a one-year contract for $1.3 million, slightly above the $1 million he was projected to earn by MLBTradeRumors.com’s arbitration projector.

McAllister settled into a nice role in the back end of the Indians bullpen in 2015 after a very short audition in the starting rotation at the season’s start. He made a career-high 61 appearances, including 60 in relief. He was 4-3 from the bullpen with a 2.49 ERA and one save. He struck out 79 batters in 65 innings as part of Francona’s late inning options.

He would appear to be headed towards a similar role with the Indians for next season, who need back end help bridging the gap between starting pitching, setup man Bryan Shaw, and closer Cody Allen.

The Indians still have five arbitration-eligible players to talk to, including four pitchers. Allen and Shaw are joined by reliever Jeff Manship, pitcher Josh Tomlin, and outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall on that list. Eligible players have to file for arbitration by this coming Tuesday; players and clubs must exchange salary numbers by Friday, with arbitration hearings pending over the first 21 days of February, if the matters are not resolved prior.

In a final bit of bullpen-related news, spring training invitee Joseph Colon has received a 50-game suspension for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for the second time in his career. The suspension, stated for a positive test for a drug of abuse, is without pay.

Colon has spent his entire professional career in the Indians organization and became a minor league free agent following the season. He re-signed with Cleveland on a minor league contract and was invited to spring training as a non-roster player. The 25-year-old right-handed pitcher is a former starter who worked in all but one game in 2015 as a reliever. He was 2-0 in 21 games for Double-A Akron last season with a 3.16 ERA and was 1-0 with a 3.12 ERA in 12 games for Triple-A Columbus.

Colon was a 12th round pick by the Indians in the 2009 draft. It is unknown how his suspended status might affect his role during spring training, but he becomes a non-factor for the Cleveland bullpen for at least the first 50 games of next season, regardless of his level of performance in Goodyear.

Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images