Indians Announce Roster Moves Ahead of 28-Man Deadline

With Major League Baseball clubs trimming their respective rosters down to 28 players, the Cleveland Indians announced several roster moves prior to their series finale with the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night.

The Indians activated outfielder Delino DeShields from the 10-day injured list, adding their offseason trade acquisition from his rehab work at the team’s alternate training site in Eastlake. Outfielders Greg Allen and Daniel Johnson were both optioned to the alternate site, while utility man Christian Arroyo was designated for assignment.

DeShields was one of two pieces acquired by the Indians from the Texas Rangers in the December 2019 trade of two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. Emmanuel Clase, a young hard-throwing reliever, has since been suspended for the season after a failed performance enhancing drug test, while Kluber may not pitch again this year after suffering a grade 2 tear of the teres major muscle in his right shoulder in the first inning of his first start of the season for the Rangers.

DeShields tested positive for the coronavirus just as teams were beginning to return to their respective homes for spring training 2.0, or summer camp. He remained in Arizona for an extended period before joining the rest of the roster in northeast Ohio.

The second-generation Major Leaguer was a first round pick by the Houston Astros in 2010 and was a Rule 5 pick by the Texas Rangers ahead of the 2015 season. He spent five years with the Rangers, working regularly in center field for the club while compiling a .246/.326/.342 slash in 539 games with 106 stolen bases in 135 career attempts. He will turn 28 on August 16.

With DeShields’ return and the roster needing a two-man reduction already, three left Progressive Field on Thursday.

Allen, 27, had appeared in eight games for the Indians but primarily as a late inning defensive replacement. Working in his fourth season in the Majors, he was 0-for-8 at the plate with four strikeouts while making just two starts in left field for the Indians.

The rookie Johnson has played sparingly in the early going as well. The 25-year-old centerpiece of the Yan Gomes trade in November of 2018 pushed for playing time in the spring and summer camps and had made his way into five games, going 1-for-12 with a single and a walk in 13 plate appearances with five strikeouts. He had worked one complete game in left field and had made three starts and one replacement appearance in right field in 33 total innings of action in the outfield.

Arroyo had not appeared on the Indians lineup card since the third game of the season on July 26, when he logged one inning of work at third base for the club in a win over the Kansas City Royals. Now in his fourth big league season, the 25-year-old is out of options, which prevented the Indians from being able to send him to the minors easily.

The Indians will have seven days to trade him, place him on irrevocable outright waivers, or give him his release. If claimed by another club, he will be added to their respective 28-man roster immediately. With just 1.062 years of MLB service time, the Indians could outright Arroyo to their alternate training site if he clears waivers unclaimed.

Arroyo has appeared in 71 games over four big league seasons, posting a .215/.280/.342 line at the plate with nine doubles, one triple, six homers, and 27 RBI. A former top prospect for the San Francisco Giants, he was traded by the club to the Tampa Bay Rays in the Evan Longoria trade in 2017. He joined the Indians ahead of the trade deadline last season with reliever Hunter Wood for minor leaguer Ruben Cardenas and international bonus slot money.

An injury prevented him from appearing with the Indians or with a farm affiliate after his acquisition last season.

Other players who could have been on the hot seat included a pair of utility guys, Mike Freeman (.143/.250/.143) and Yu Chang (.167/.286/.167). Entering play on Thursday night, Freeman has played just three times while Chang has appeared in two games. Both players had made a pair of starts. Instead, the Indians opted to clear out the logjam in the outfield, with Jordan Luplow, Domingo Santana, and Bradley Zimmer being retained for additional chances moving forward.

The team will need to make roster moves in the near future when catcher Roberto Perez and outfielder Tyler Naquin are activated from the 10-day injured list this month.

The original plan for MLB this season was to reduce the roster an additional two spots in two weeks, but due to the ongoing complications presented by COVID-19, the league announced on Wednesday that the scheduled reduction to 26 will be skipped. Instead, teams will go with 28-man rosters for the rest of the season with an expanded five-man taxi squad. Teams are able to add an additional 29th player in the event of doubleheaders.

Photo: Greg Fiume/Getty Images

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