Tribe Acquires Boston’s Leon, Cuts Ties with Plawecki and Hoyt
Bob Toth | On 02, Dec 2019
Ahead of Monday’s deadline for tendering contracts to arbitration-eligible players, the Cleveland Indians made some moves.
Early in the day, word broke that the Indians acquired backup backstop Sandy Leon from the Boston Red Sox for 21-year-old minor league pitcher Adenys Bautista, who spent last season in the Dominican Summer League and the Arizona Rookie League. Leon was expected to be non-tendered by the Red Sox. The move may have been curious earlier in the day, as Leon joined three other catchers on the team’s 40-man roster, but that issued cleared itself up as the day progressed. The Tribe announced ahead of the 8 PM arbitration deadline that reliever James Hoyt and catcher Kevin Plawecki were not going to be tendered contracts, making the pair free agents.
After the handful of transactions Monday, the Indians’ 40-man roster sits at 39.
Leon’s acquisition initially came with some question marks, as it seemed unusual for the Indians to lock up four spots on the 40-man roster to catchers (with Plawecki, Roberto Perez, and Eric Haase already occupying three spots). That led to some speculation that maybe the team was taking extra precaution after Perez underwent surgery on his right ankle in mid-October to remove bone spurs, while others speculated around the possibility of Plawecki being non-tendered.
The latter proved to be true, as the Indians cut ties with Plawecki after just one season in town. The fifth-year MLBer had spent his first four big league seasons with the Mets in New York before he was traded to Cleveland last offseason. He appeared in 59 games for the Indians in 2019, hitting .222 with a .287 on-base percentage and .342 slugging mark with ten doubles, three homers, and 17 RBI. With Plawecki behind the plate, Tribe hurlers uncorked 14 wild pitches in 418 innings and he did little to control the running game, throwing out just 23% of would-be base stealers.
The 28-year-old Plawecki was expected to garner an arbitration raise that would push his contract to $1.5 million for the 2020 campaign.
Leon, 30, had an underwhelming year in Boston in 2019, his fifth in Beantown. The switch-hitter, who has never been lauded for his efforts with the bat, failed to reach the Mendoza line for the second straight season and the fourth time in six campaigns, posting a .192/.251/.297 slash in 65 games of work with the Red Sox. He committed three errors and allowed four passed balls in his time behind the plate for the Sox while cutting down just 21% of base theft attempts. That number was well off of the pace of previous career performances in that department.
Leon, who was arbitration eligible and was expected to see a figure around $2.8 million (per the gurus at MLBTradeRumors.com), agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract for the coming season with some performance bonuses mixed in, according to The Athletic.
The 33-year-old Hoyt worked sparingly down the stretch and provided some encouraging results for the Indians, striking out ten batters in eight and one-third innings over eight September games. The pesky home run ball remained a problem for him, however, as he gave up a pair of solo bombs during that short stint in the Cleveland bullpen on the heels of a so-so showing at Triple-A Columbus to start the year. He appeared in 40 games there in his sixth season of work at the top farm level, going 2-0 with four saves, a 3.43 ERA, and a 1.57 WHIP in 40 games and 42 innings. He averaged 9.9 hits and 4.3 walks per nine innings there.
Hoyt, who still has a minor league option available, was not yet arbitration eligible and was non-tendered by the Indians for the second straight November. He had been with the Indians organization since early July of 2018, when he was acquired from Houston for minor league pitcher Tommy DeJuneas. Hoyt re-signed with the Indians after being non-tendered last November 30.
The Indians also announced that the club had come to terms on a one-year deal for 2020 with Andrew Velazquez, who joined the club midseason in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Tribe also tendered contracts to its other four arbitration-eligible players – Mike Clevinger, Francisco Lindor, Tyler Naquin, and Nick Wittgren.
Photo: Billie Weiss/Getty Images