Hot Stove Heating Up as Indians Make Minor Roster Moves

The offseason begins with a lot of minor moves for teams that oftentimes get lost in the shuffle of an otherwise busy fall and winter break from playing.

The Cleveland Indians completed some of their mandatory moves on Monday, adding several players to the 40-man roster, opening another spot by declining an option, and extending one very important qualifying offer.

The biggest move of the day involved free agent first baseman Carlos Santana. The Indians, as expected, offered the slugger a qualifying offer, making him one of nine players around the Majors to receive a one-year, $17.4 million tender. Santana has ten days to accept or decline the offer. If he elects to decline the offer and test the free agent waters, the Indians will receive compensation if Santana signs with another team. If Santana signs a deal for less than $50 million guaranteed, the Indians will receive a compensatory pick in the competitive balance round B, just after the third round of the June draft. However, since the Indians are one of 16 teams involved in revenue sharing, if Santana signs for more than $50 million in guaranteed cash, Cleveland will get a compensation pick following the first round of the draft.

Santana would be expected to forgo the tender in search of a multi-year deal as one of the top free agents on the market this winter.

The club also announced that it had declined the 2018 option of left-handed reliever Boone Logan. The 33-year-old 12-year veteran appeared in 38 games for the Indians in the first year of his contract, going 1-0 with a 4.71 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP in 21 innings of matchup work out of the bullpen. He was injured during Cleveland’s west coast trip opening the second half of the season and missed the rest of the campaign with a left latissimus dorsi strain. He opted not to undergo surgery on the injury and was replaced by Tyler Olson in the bullpen.

The emergence of Olson may have made Logan expendable, as the fresh arm worked in 20 innings over 30 games, earning a win while posting a 0.00 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. Just two of the 17 runners he inherited during the regular season came around to score.

The Indians will pay Logan a $1 million buyout fee, rather than paying the $7 million club option he was due to receive.

Monday also marked the day that teams needed to activate players from the 60-day disabled list and add them back to the 40-man roster. Olson was removed from the DL with his option decline. Starting pitcher Cody Anderson and minor leaguer Dylan Baker were added back to the 40-man roster.

Anderson missed the 2017 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in late March. The 27-year-old spent parts of the 2015 and 2016 seasons with the Indians, putting up impressive numbers in his rookie season before struggling in year number two.

The 25-year-old Baker, a fifth round pick in 2012, appeared in 17 games for the Indians at the minor league level, including four in the Arizona League and 13 with Double-A Akron. He missed almost all of the first month of the season on the disabled list and missed nearly two more months from the end of May to the end of July with a back injury. When the Double-A season was coming to a close, the Indians added him to their 60-day disabled list in a procedural move on September 1.

Through six minor league seasons, Baker has worked in just 65 games.

In a positive piece of reporting, the Indians selected the contract of catcher Eric Haase from Triple-A Columbus, adding him to the 40-man roster for the first time in his career. The 24-year-old backstop had a breakout season in 2017 in what could have been his final season in the organization. Set to become a minor league free agent this fall, the Indians intervened and protected their top catching prospect (with the graduation of Francisco Mejia to the Majors in September) from the Rule 5 draft in December. Haase joined the Tribe organization in 2011 when he was selected in the seventh round out of Divine Child High School in Dearborn, Michigan.

Haase began his second season at the Double-A level with the RubberDucks in 2017, appearing in 60 games behind the plate while working in tandem with Mejia. A different approach at the plate led to dramatically improved power numbers, including a career-best 27 homers and 61 RBI while posting a .260/.352/.578 slash in 95 total games for the season.

He ended his season with two games for Columbus in the first promotion of his career to the Triple-A level; he made his mark there with a homer in his first game for the Clippers.

After removing their free agents (Santana, Logan, Craig Breslow, Jay Bruce, Austin Jackson, Bryan Shaw, and Joe Smith), the Indians’ 40-man roster currently sits at 37 players.

Photo: David Monseur/Akron RubberDucks

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