The Indians cleaned up the roster some on Monday morning, activating infielder Christian Arroyo, pitcher Corey Kluber, and outfielder Tyler Naquin from the 60-day injured list as part of typical front office post-season moves.
The other set of moves announced on the day, however, opened up some space on the club’s 40-man roster. Pitchers Cody Anderson, A.J. Cole, Tyler Olson, and Danny Salazar were activated from their stints on the injured list and subsequently outrighted to Triple-A Columbus. The four all elected to become free agents instead of accepting the assignments back to the minors.
The three players remaining from the injured list moves are expected to factor into the team’s 2020 season. Arroyo was a midseason trade acquisition from the Tampa Bay Rays, but did not play for the Tribe as he dealt with right forearm tendinitis both prior to and after his relocation to the Indians roster. Kluber missed all but a month of the 2019 season after breaking his right forearm when struck by a line drive in May and straining his oblique while rehabbing. Naquin tore his right ACL late in the season and had surgery on the knee in September. His timeline for return is still unknown, but is expected to be sometime in the first half of the coming season.
Anderson, 29, had spent his entire professional career in the Indians organization, but after an impressive rookie campaign in 2015, his inability to stay healthy has prevented him from making any significant contributions to the team since. An oblique injury cut into his rookie season and right elbow issues limited him in 2016. He had Tommy John surgery at the start of the 2017 season and missed nearly two full seasons, outside of a couple of rehab appearances late in the 2018 campaign. He took the mound five times early in the season for the Indians in his first big league action since 2016, but a return of right elbow issues cut short his season and he had surgery in June to repair a right elbow flexor tendon.
In parts of three big league seasons, Anderson posted a 9-9 record over 39 games (26 starts) with a 4.76 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. He went 0-1 with a 9.35 ERA and a 2.31 WHIP in those five games for the Indians this past season.
Cole, a 27-year-old right-hander, was thought to be a possible non-tender candidate by the Indians this winter despite projecting to receive an estimated $800,000 in arbitration this winter (according to MLBTradeRumors.com). Working in his fifth big league season and his first with the Tribe after being claimed off of waivers from the New York Yankees in January, Cole was added to the roster in May and spent three months in the Cleveland bullpen before a right shoulder impingement cost him the rest of the year.
Cole made 25 appearances for the Indians, going 3-1 with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP with 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
The left-handed Olson, who turned 30 on October 2, had a tough third season in Cleveland. After making 30 scoreless appearances in his first year with the Indians in 2017, he struggled to a 4.94 ERA in 2018. Olson, who began the year as one of three lefties in the team’s bullpen, struggled through the early season this past season and, in early August, he was placed on the 10-day injured list with a non-baseball medical condition later revealed to be shingles. He was transferred to the 60-day injured list due to the condition at the beginning of September and did not appear in another game.
Olson ended his fifth big league season with a 1-1 record over 39 games with a 4.40 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP. His hit and walk rates both took bad turns, leading to some of his elevated numbers across the board.
Salazar had been considered by many to be a non-tender candidate by the club after another disappointing season for the 2016 American League All-Star. Once one of the top prospects in the Indians farm system, Salazar showed off some major value in his early years with the club, but after making the All-Star team in 2016, his numbers trended down over the second half of the season and his 2017 was marred by poor performance and both right shoulder and right elbow injuries that sent him to the disabled list. He missed all of 2018 with right shoulder rotator cuff tendonitis and he continued to make a slow progression through rehab until he was activated on July 31. After just one appearance, he returned to the injured list with a right groin strain that ultimately ended his season.
The right-hander, who will turn 30 in January, was expected to receive compensation in the market of $4.5 million in arbitration this winter. He worked four innings in 2019, allowing a pair of solo homers and three walks in a losing effort. In 109 games over six MLB seasons, Salazar was 38-34 with a 3.82 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP with Cleveland.
The Indians’ 40-man roster sits at 38 ahead of the deadline to set the roster for the Rule 5 draft. Cleveland is expected to add at least two players ahead of the November 20th date – pitcher Triston McKenzie (who missed the entire 2019 season with a back injury) and outfielder Daniel Johnson (one of three players acquired in last November’s Yan Gomes trade).
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