Baseball may be at a standstill, but the game goes on in some front offices as teams make some minor moves in preparation for the eventual arrival of the 2020 season.
None of the moves were necessarily unexpected at some point had the final two weeks of spring training played out as originally anticipated.
Allen may have had a chance to sneak into the rotation mix with injuries to Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco creating probable openings for the original Opening Day date of March 26. The rotation was otherwise full enough with Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac, and Adam Plutko, and given the anticipated lengthy layoff ahead, both Clevinger and Carrasco may be in play by then.
Allen, 22, was acquired at the trade deadline last year as part of the Trevor Bauer trade, coming over from the San Diego Padres. Moss, 25, was picked up in the same deal from the Cincinnati Reds.
Allen made two starts and two relief appearances this spring, posting no record with a save in two opportunities, a 5.68 ERA, and a 1.89 WHIP with five strikeouts and seven walks in six and one-third innings. The young lefty worked nine times last season for the Padres and Indians in his debut season, going 2-3 in four starts and five relief outings with a 6.18 ERA and a 1.77 WHIP.
Moss, another left-hander, took the mound three times in spring training action for the Indians, allowing two runs on three hits with eight strikeouts and five walks in five and two-thirds innings. Yet to make his big league debut, he went 10-6 with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP in 26 games at three minor league stops last season.
Bradley, 23, made his Major League debut with the Indians last season in a brief cup of coffee. He hit .178 in 45 at bats with a homer and four RBI in 15 games. With the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, he slashed .264/.344/.567 in 107 games with a career high 33 homers. In camp as a potential backup first base option and DH, he hit .333 with a .357 on-base percentage and a .704 slugging mark in 15 games, hitting a double, three homers, and driving in seven runs. His chances of making the Opening Day roster were limited due to the surplus of outfielders in camp and the likelihood that the Indians would utilize the 26th player added to rosters this season on an outfielder or utility type.
Chang, a 24-year-old with 28 games of big league experience with the Indians a season ago, was one of those utility types as he had a shot to earn such a role with the club for this coming season. He hit .178 with a .286 OBP and .274 slugging percentage in limited work a year ago in his first big league action, hitting a pair of doubles, a triple, and one homer and driving in six. He slashed .253/.322/.427 in 68 games for Columbus in a season limited some by injury. He hit .250 in Arizona this spring with three doubles, one homer, and four RBI in 13 games of Cactus League play.
Johnson was an outside candidate in a crowded outfield mix full of platoon parts. The 24-year-old and key piece in last winter’s Yan Gomes trade with the Washington Nationals put together a solid season overall with Double-A Akron (39 games) and Columbus (84 games) in 2019, posting a combined slash of .290/.361/.507 with 34 doubles, seven triples, 19 homers, and 77 RBI in production that mirrored his previous best marks from two seasons earlier. He was slowed some by an injury in camp this year, but hit .267 with a .353 OBP with a triple and three RBI in eight games for the Tribe.
The moves came on the heels, but were not necessarily related, to other news on Thursday that the Indians will be issuing a complete shutdown of their Spring Training complex in Goodyear, Arizona.
“We wanted to make sure we were doing everything we could to maintain the health and wellness of our players and staff,” team president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti shared during a conference call on Thursday. “We chose to operate the Goodyear complex with a significantly reduced footprint and still followed those best practices, but at this point, the guidance we’re getting from health experts is that the best decision would be just to stop that activity all together, and that’s what we’ll do.”
To the team’s credit and to the best of its knowledge, no player or staff member has tested positive for the coronavirus, but one employee of the Cincinnati Reds’ organization at the clubs’ shared facility has. The Indians have remained in contact with their players and staff through phone calls, texts, emails, or other avenues to keep in touch. Many players had already left camp and gone home, while others have stayed in the area or have returned to Cleveland while the team stresses social distancing as a best practice at this time. Players remaining in nearby living arrangements are now staying in their own rooms instead of sharing space with others while also receiving meals to reduce time outside of the home where they are more at risk of coming into contact with COVID-19.
The team also shared on Wednesday that its minor league players will continue to be paid during the pandemic-related issues causing a delay in starting the season.
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