Tribe Sends Armstrong to Seattle for International Bonus Pool Cash

The Indians are not going to come home from the Winter Meetings empty handed, as they will return to Cleveland with a little extra spending money and one fewer reliever on the roster.

On Wednesday, the club dealt right-hander Shawn Armstrong to the Seattle Mariners for $500,000 in international bonus pool money.

Armstrong was a candidate for the Indians’ depleted bullpen for the 2018 season, but he was out of minor league options. A frequent traveler down Interstate 71 over the last few years (because he had minor league options available and it allowed the club to have an artificially extended bullpen), he would have needed to have latched on to a secured spot on the relief staff this spring, one that currently has Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Zach McAllister, and Dan Otero appearing as locks with Nick Goody and Tyler Olson also presumed to be in the mix.

The trade of Armstrong does open a spot on the Indians’ 40-man roster ahead of Thursday’s Rule 5 draft, which could put Cleveland in play for an addition to the club through that route.

Armstrong had been with the Indians’ organization since his selection in the 18th round of the 2011 draft. He debuted with the big league club in August of 2015, appearing in eight games while posting a 2.25 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP. He made his way into ten contests the following year with a 2.53 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP while showing some command problems in the small sample size. His work in the minors in both seasons displayed some issues with free passes, but he showed an ability to post high strikeout rates.

He split 2017 between Cleveland and Columbus. He was 1-1 for the Clippers in 28 games with a 3.07 ERA, a 1.30 WHIP, and ten saves. In 21 contests for Cleveland, he was 1-0 with a 4.38 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP, but suffered some with the long ball.

Armstrong is not the first reliever that has exited the Indians organization this fall. Bryan Shaw (who agreed to terms on a three-year, $27 million contract with Colorado on Tuesday), Joe Smith, and Craig Breslow were declared free agents following the completion of the 2017 season. Reliever Kyle Crockett, who was similarly out of options, was designated for assignment and claimed off of waivers by the Cincinnati Reds in November.

Armstrong’s departure certainly comes at an awkward time. The 27-year-old reliever, like so many of his teammates, received word earlier in the week that the home clubhouse manager of the Tribe’s Triple-A Columbus Clippers affiliate, 32-year-old Matt Pruzinsky, passed away suddenly from cardiac arrest while attending the Cleveland Browns game on Sunday. Pruzinsky’s wife Shannon is pregnant with twin boys and is due in March. Armstrong established a GoFundMe page to help support the family and the response from fans, friends, and players past and present has far exceeded the initial donation request.

At the time of this story, $78,370 had been raised by 799 people, with plenty of recognizable names in the donor pool, including Armstrong and dozens of current and former members of the Indians club and its farm system, many with ties to Pruzinsky from his time in Columbus.

Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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