The Cleveland Indians returned to routine offseason work following the announcement of the Yan Gomes trade with Washington on Friday, avoiding arbitration with four members of its 40-man roster while tendering contract offers to All-Stars Trevor Bauer and Francisco Lindor, as well as rehabbing pitcher Cody Anderson.
The Indians came to terms on Major League contracts for the 2019 season with relievers Nick Goody and Neil Ramirez, pitcher Danny Salazar, and infielder Eric Stamets. Reliever James Hoyt, who was acquired from the Houston Astros during the first week of July, was the only player eligible who was non-tendered, making him a free agent.
Bauer is expected to cash in nicely again in arbitration, something that he did last offseason when he won his case against the Indians. Projections by MLBTradeRumors.com have him estimated to see an increase in his pay from $6.525 million in 2018 to $11.6 million for 2019. Lindor will also see a hike in his first season of arbitration eligibility, with a projection of $10.2 million for the 25-year-old three-time All-Star. He made $623,200 in 2018.
Salazar’s deal was worth a reported $4.5 million and answered one of the Indians’ bigger offseason questions regarding whether or not to tender him a contract after the right-handed pitcher missed the entire season dealing with right shoulder rotator cuff tendonitis that was followed up by a July arthroscopic debridement and bursectomy in the same shoulder. The procedure was considered at the time to be just a cleanup of the affected area and not a repair.
Last year, Salazar earned $5 million in his second season of arbitration eligibility.
With some big league success under his belt (including a trip to the 2016 MLB All-Star Game), Salazar has not been the same since the middle of that season. He finished that season with just 25 games worked and pitched in 23 more in 2017. But while he has been unable to find the mound with any sort of consistency over the last two and a half years due to arm issues, the temptation of letting a player of his caliber walk to sign elsewhere proved too risky for the Indians to take. As rumors have swirled all offseason about other teams inquiring about the Indians’ starting pitching and the club’s efforts to listen to offers, a healthy and effective Salazar could buffer the consequences of such a trade, should one occur.
Ramirez and the Indians agreed to a one-year, $1 million deal to avoid arbitration. He was the most heavily worked of the four players who agreed to contracts on Friday, providing the Indians’ bullpen with much needed stability at a time that it was bordering on a completely dysfunctional unit. The 29-year-old right-hander signed with the Indians last November on a minor league contract with a spring training invitation and was called up by the Tribe in mid-May. Lower back spasms landed him on the disabled list for just over a week at the end of August. He appeared in 47 games on the year, going 0-3 with a 4.54 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP in his most big league activity since his rookie season with the Chicago Cubs in 2014.
Goody and Stamets also avoided arbitration before the 8 PM deadline on Friday for players to be non-tendered. Goody, 27, is expected to earn $675,000 for 2019, according to Fancred’s Jon Heyman. The reliever was to log some significant innings for the club in his fourth big league season, but he was lost after just 12 games of work in early May after suffering a right elbow strain that kept him out of action for the remainder of the season. Stamets, also 27, joined the 40-man roster last November, but a tough Triple-A season at the plate and injuries made him a potential non-tender candidate for the Indians. He spent his seventh professional season at Columbus while slashing .202/.272/.324 with ten doubles, two triples, five homers, and 16 RBI. After playing shortstop for the bulk of his minor league career, he split his workload for the Clippers in 2018 between short and second base. Injuries limited him to just 78 games last season, one year removed from the best offensive season of his career.
The 32-year-old right-hander Hoyt was limited to just three games with the Columbus Clippers before he was shut down with a knee injury. He had pitched parts of the last three seasons in the Astros bullpen. Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti expressed that the organization hopes to re-sign him.
The removal of Hoyt vacated a spot on the Indians’ 40-man roster, which now stands at 39 players.
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