Indians Add a Pair of Left-Handers and Outright Catcher Gimenez
Bob Toth | On 18, Nov 2016
The Cleveland Indians announced on Friday afternoon three roster moves pertaining to the team’s 40-man roster for the 2017 season.
The team added a pair of left-handed pitchers to their arsenal for next season by claiming starter Tim Cooney from the St. Louis Cardinals and pitcher Edwin Escobar from the Arizona Diamondbacks off of waivers.
In a corresponding roster move, the Indians have outrighted catcher Chris Gimenez off of the 40-man roster.
The 25-year-old Cooney missed the entire 2016 season while dealing with left shoulder discomfort in spring training that ultimately led to a shoulder scope at the end of July to address what had been described as a Bennett lesion (a buildup of calcium).
Previous reports indicated that Cooney was expected to recover in time to throw without limitations at the start of spring training.
Cooney was selected by the Cardinals in the third round of the 2012 June Amateur draft out of Wake Forest University. He progressed quickly to the higher levels of the St. Louis farm system, pitching briefly at High-A in 2013 before a promotion to Double-A. He spent all of 2014 in Triple-A with Memphis, going 14-6 with a 3.47 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 26 games, and was 6-4 with a 2.74 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in 14 games for the club in 2015. That season, he also made his first six Major League starts for the Cardinals (once at the end of April and five more in July). He was optioned back to Triple-A after a seven-inning start on July 24, despite earning his first MLB win, but did not pitch another game that season for the Redbirds as he landed on the Triple-A seven-day disabled list before he could make another start.
Cooney was a casualty of the strong Cardinals system, as the club needed to make room on the 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 draft in December. He has worked almost exclusively as a starter throughout his professional career, making 82 of his 85 appearances in a starting role, and the Cardinals had previously mentioned him as a possible candidate for the club at some point in 2017 as either a starter or reliever. He sports a low 90s fastball, a changeup, and a curve as key pitches in his mix.
The well-travelled Escobar comes to Cleveland via Arizona, where he spent his campaign split between the Diamondbacks and their Triple-A affiliate, the Reno Aces.
Escobar’s big league journey started in 2008 when the Venezuelan was signed as an amateur free agent by the Texas Rangers. He was traded to San Francisco at the beginning of the 2010 season and spent four and a half years on the farm for the Giants before he was dealt to the Boston Red Sox with pitcher Heath Hembree for starter Jake Peavy and cash just in advance of the 2014 July non-waivers trade deadline. He made his MLB debut later that season for the Red Sox, appearing in two games out of the bullpen, throwing two innings of relief.
Escobar spent the 2015 season in the minors for the Red Sox, going 3-3 with a 4.97 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in 20 games (seven starts) and was claimed by the Diamondbacks off of waivers from the Red Sox on April 29, 2016, after making three appearances at Triple-A Pawtucket.
He went 1-2 with a 7.23 ERA and 1.90 WHIP in 25 games (two starts) for the Diamondbacks this past season (as a piece of D-backs trivia, he became the organization’s 100th starting pitcher used when he took the mound on Memorial Day). He worked exclusively as a starter at Triple-A Reno, where he was 6-3 with a 4.25 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in 16 starts.
The 24-year-old Escobar, now with his fifth Major League organization, is another low 90s fastball guy who will mix in his curve and slider as needed.
Gimenez was expected to be a roster reduction at some point this offseason with Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez in the fold behind the plate for the Indians for the coming season. He filled in for the Indians throughout the 2016 season after the club acquired him in a cash exchange with the Texas Rangers when the team lost backup catcher Perez at the end of April. It was his third trip through the Indians organization, after the club drafted him in 2004 in the 19th round and he was re-acquired from Texas in August of 2014 for future considerations.
He worked in a career-high 68 games this year, including frequent work behind the plate and brief appearances at first and third bases. He also returned to the mound for three innings of relief work in two different outings in blowouts. He hit .216 with a .272 on-base percentage for the season with four doubles, four homers, and eleven RBI.
Gimenez will turn 34 late in December.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images