Indians Designate Almonte and Taylor for Assignment
Bob Toth | On 30, Mar 2018
The Cleveland Indians made a pair of minor roster moves on Thursday prior to the first game of the 2018 season when outfielder Abraham Almonte and pitcher Ben Taylor were each designated for assignment.
The transactions created a pair of spots on the 40-man roster, which the club needed to add outfielder Rajai Davis and reliever Matt Belisle to the big league roster. Their respective contracts were formally purchased from Triple-A Columbus and the pair were in uniform and available for the Tribe’s regular season debut contest with the Seattle Mariners, a 2-1 defeat.
As for Almonte and Taylor, their statuses are yet to be determined. The Indians have seven days to either trade them or place them on irrevocable outright waivers. If claimed by another club, they will be added to that team’s 40-man roster (and can be optioned to the minors). If either or both clear the waivers process unclaimed, the Indians could send them back to Columbus, where they were both expected to start the season, or they could give them their outright release. Almonte, as a player with more than three years of Major League service time, could refuse the outright assignment to the minors and be declared a free agent.
Almonte was with the Indians during spring training, battling for a spot as a reserve outfielder and bench piece on manager Terry Francona‘s club. The 28-year-old had spent parts of the last three seasons with Cleveland after being acquired at the 2015 trade deadline from the San Diego Padres for reliever Marc Rzepczynski. He performed well that season and appeared to be in the mix for a starting center field job with the club in 2016 before a performance enhancing drug suspension cost him the start to the year and an opportunity to contribute in the postseason when the Indians reached the World Series.
After a pair of seasons hitting .264 with the Indians, last season was a step backwards as he dealt with injuries and appeared in just 69 games for the club, slashing .233/.314/.366 with eight doubles, three triples, three homers, and 14 RBI. While he showed a better eye last season than other stretches of his career, he had a notable drop in extra base hits, in particular doubles (after hitting 20 in 2016).
Almonte could be intriguing to another club as an outfielder capable of playing all three spots who has some pop and sneaky speed and is a switch-hitter.
Taylor, 25, was a waiver claim by the Indians during spring training from the Boston Red Sox, where he had played his first three professional seasons after being drafted in the seventh round of the 2015 draft out of the University of South Alabama.
During his brief career, the right-hander had made just 64 appearances (including 13 starts), posting a 1-4 record with a 2.95 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP, and 165 strikeouts in 149 2/3 innings. He jumped from Double-A to the Majors after a strong camp with the Red Sox last season, but was 0-1 with a 5.19 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP in 14 games and 17 1/3 innings for the club. He also spent 14 games working in the minors and lost some time in May and June on the disabled list. He was not recalled by Boston in September when rosters expanded and he was placed on waivers after the club resigned Eduardo Nunez in February.
Photo: Ron Schwane/Getty Images