Indians Designate Urshela and Beliveau, Purchase Contract of Ogando

A roster move that had been lingering since spring training was finally resolved on Friday afternoon, when in a handful of roster moves, the Cleveland Indians activated utility man Gio Urshela from his rehab assignment while on the 10-day disabled list and designated him for assignment.

The Indians also added another reinforcement to their bullpen, purchasing the contract of right-hander Alexi Ogando from Triple-A Columbus while designating left-handed reliever Jeff Beliveau for assignment. Cleveland will have seven days to trade, release, or place Urshela and Beliveau on irrevocable waivers, with the hopes of passing the pair unclaimed through the process so that they can return to Columbus.

The spring battle for a bench spot on the club was decided Friday, more than a month after Urshela suffered a right hamstring injury late in camp. He had been in a heated battle with fellow utility man Erik Gonzalez for one of the final spots on the roster, with both players out of options and therefore at risk of being lost to one of the other 29 teams around Major League Baseball through waivers.

The 26-year-old Urshela, an international signing out of Colombia in 2008, had worked in a significant number of games in 2015 and 2017 for the Indians, but inconsistencies at the plate made him a risk to keep on the roster. In recent years, he has added several defensive positions to his resume and is lauded for his efforts in the field, but he owns a .225/.273/.314 slash in 148 big league games with 15 doubles, one triple, seven homers, and 36 RBI.

He got a second extensive look last season when injuries started to deplete the Indians roster. The loss of second baseman Jason Kipnis led to both Urshela and Yandy Diaz working in at third base, with All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez shifted over to his more natural second base position. The duo was performing consistently enough for manager Terry Francona that instead of bumping Urshela and Diaz from a rotation at third and reinserting Kipnis into his old position, the Indians opted to shift Kipnis into an outfield role and left Ramirez on the lineup card at second base.

Urshela was one of the hottest hitters on the club during Cactus League play, hitting .500 (21-for-42) in 18 games with six doubles, three homers, and seven RBI, and appeared to have the leg up on Gonzalez (who had a .320 average in 23 games in Arizona with two doubles and two RBI), but Urshela’s hamstring issue may have cost him his job in Cleveland. He struggled initially during his rehab assignment, going 2-for-13 in his first five games back in the lineup with the Columbus Clippers, but in the second half of his rehab stint, he started to put up better numbers, going 10-for-24 (.417) with four doubles and six RBI while drawing a rare four walks against his four strikeouts.

If the Indians do not swing a trade for the sure-handed infielder, they can attempt to pass him through waivers, but the likelihood of him being claimed by another club would be considered high, especially with the number of scuffling and/or rebuilding teams around baseball.

Gonzalez, 26, appeared in 12 games in April, hitting .182 with two hits in eleven at bats in extremely limited action. He entered five of those games as either a pinch-runner or a late inning defensive replacement. With the Indians staring down a decision on him, he got a heavy dose of playing time in the first three days of May and stepped up in a big way with the pressure on him, putting up a pair of three-hit games while hitting .583 (7-for-12) with three doubles, a triple, four runs scored, and four RBI, certainly helping him maintain a spot on the 25-man roster with the Indians.

Beliveau – Jason Miller/Getty Images

As for the relief addition of Ogando, he becomes another in a rapidly growing list of arms moving through the swinging bullpen doors for the Tribe. The bullpen, heavily used in the last week due to extra inning games and issues in the starting rotation, has a pair of its arms on the disabled list, including right-hander Nick Goody, who was placed on the 10-day DL on Thursday in between games after a right elbow injury. The Indians have added Evan Marshall and Ben Taylor to the bullpen during the week while designating veteran reliever Matt Belisle for assignment.

Ogando started the season in the starting rotation for the Clippers after signing with the Indians in December on a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. He made four starts, earning two wins while posting a 2.89 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP with 14 strikeouts and six walks in 18 2/3 innings. He was there as a depth option for either the bullpen or rotation and had been stretched out for the latter, working as a starter for the first time professionally since 2013. He pitched shorter efforts in his first two appearances for the Clippers, but looked good later in the month, earning a win while striking out eight batters in five and two-thirds scoreless innings of one-hit baseball in Rochester on April 22 before throwing five innings of two-run baseball in another win at home against Indianapolis in his last start on April 29.

He has worked in parts of seven different big league seasons and last appeared in the Majors with the Atlanta Braves during the 2016 campaign.

He will replace the 31-year-old Beliveau, who came up when Andrew Miller was placed on the disabled list a week and a half ago. He initially looked impressive, but has faltered badly in his last two outings. After working a scoreless two and one-third innings in three April appearances, he did not retire a batter on Tuesday night against Texas, charged with three runs on two hits with a hit batter and a homer allowed. He worked in the ninth inning of Thursday’s doubleheader, allowing a run on two hits with two walks in an inning against his former Toronto Blue Jays club. He may have been more expendable with the pending return of Miller, who could be activated this weekend in New York.

As is the case with Urshela, the Indians have a seven-day window to place him on waivers, trade him, or outright release him.

Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Related Posts

Deals Left at the Table Leave Tribe Fans Wondering What Might Have Been

The Indians’ quick playoff exit has led to a lot of 20-20 hindsight, deals that in retrospect could have been made and should have been made. And…

Tribe Bullpen Has a Good Hand, With Questions on Other Arms

After several years of boasting one of the game’s best bullpens, including the 2016 version that nearly carried the club to a World Series championship, the Cleveland…

Seventy Years Later, Tribe Still Stands Without a Championship

Last Friday marked the anniversary of the last time a championship parade rolled through the streets of Cleveland in honor of the city’s Indians. A week and…

Indians Outfield Has Many Questions, Few Answers

During the six-year tenure of manager Terry Francona, the Cleveland Indians outfield has been a work in progress, piecemealed together and full of platoons for much of…

Indians Starting Slow in Arizona Fall League Play

The postseason hangover in Cleveland has extended all the way to Arizona for the Indians organization, as the team’s participants on the shared roster of the Glendale…

So Where Do We Go From Here?

So this is how it ends, like T.S. Eliot, not with a bang, but with a whimper. When the Cubs beat the Indians in the wee small…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.