The Cleveland Indians recently added a first baseman who is coming off a strong season in eight-year major league veteran Casey Kotchman. The left-handed hitter batted .306 with 10 home runs in 146 games for Tampa Bay last season.
Indians' manager Manny Acta
experienced an eventful week.
Shortly after learning that he was losing his 200-innings workhorse pitcher Fausto Carmona
for an indefinite period following Carmona's arrest for identity theft in the Dominican Republic, Acta learned that the Central Division-rival Detroit Tigers had signed free agent slugger Prince Fielder
"It would have been nice if he had signed somewhere else," Acta said. "They definitely have an intimidating middle of the lineup."
In 2011, the Indians finished second in the Central Division, 15 games behind the first-place Tigers.
The Indians had hoped to take steps at closing that gap during the offseason, but while the Tigers added Fielder, Cleveland has had to settle for a lower-tier first baseman.
According to multiple media reports, Casey Kotchman
was prepared to sign a one-year, $3 million contract that would include additional incentives.
Kotchman could share time with Matt LaPorta
, who has been a huge disappointment since his acquisition from Milwaukee in the CC Sabathia
trade four years ago, and Carlos Santana
, the Indians' starting catcher who saw considerable action at first base in 2011.
Acta said Santana will continue to be utilized at first base on days he's not catching. Acta is reluctant to put a number on how many games Santana will play at first in 2012, but the first base option for Santana "is always going to be there," according to Acta.
The bulk of the hitters acquired by the Indians during the offseason have been non-roster players signed to minor league contracts and invited to the major league training camp as non-roster players.
That list includes Ryan Spilborghs
, Felix Pie
, Fred Lewis
, Gregorio Petit
, Andy LaRoche
, Matt Pagnozzi
and Jose Lopez
Indians Notes & Quotes
1B Casey Kotchman has agreed to a one-year, $3 million contract with the Indians, according to multiple media reports. He could make more based on incentive clauses, the reports indicated. The 28-year-old free agent has played for five teams in his eight big-league seasons. Last year with Tampa Bay, Kotchman hit .306/.378/.422 with 10 homers and 48 RBI in 146 games.
LHP Rafael Perez avoided an arbitration hearing with the Indians by agreeing to a one-year, $2,005,000 contract. Perez, 29, went 5-2 with a 3.00 ERA last year, and tied for second in the American League with 71 pitching appearances.
UT Russ Canzler, last season's International League MVP, was acquired by the Indians from the Rays for cash.
Canzler, 25, played both corner outfield positions, third base and first base, while batting .314 with 18 homers and 83 RBIs at Class AAA Durham. He made his major league debut for the Rays on Sept. 11.
The 25-year-old led the International League in doubles (40) and slugging percentage (.530), finished second in runs (78) and third in hits (149).
Originally drafted by the Cubs in 2004, he signed with Tampa Bay as a minor league free agent before last season.
RHP Fausto Carmona, who was recently arrested for identity theft in the Dominican Republic, was placed on the restricted list by the Indians on Jan. 26. While on the list, Carmona does not count against the Indians' 25 or 40-man roster and he does not get paid. Following the 2011 season, the Indians picked up the $7 million club option on Carmona's contract. General manager Chris Antonetti said the team will have no comment on the Carmona situation.
RHP Dan Wheeler has been signed to a minor league contract and invited to the Indians' major league training camp as a non-roster player. Wheeler, 34, has a career record of 25-43 with a 3.88 ERA in 577 appearances. Last year with Boston, Wheeler was 2-2 with a 4.38 ERA in 47 relief appearances.
RHP Kevin Slowey, acquired in a trade with Colorado, has a pitching style similar to Indians' RHP Josh Tomlin, according to manager Manny Acta. "I like Slowey because he's a strike thrower who attacks hitters," Acta said. Slowey will compete with RHP Jeanmar Gomez, RHP Zach McAllister, and LHP David Huff for the spot in the starting rotation vacated by RHP Fausto Carmona, who was recently arrested in the Dominican Republic for identity theft.
OF Grady Sizemore has begun throwing and hitting workouts in Arizona as he continues his recovery from knee surgery. Indians officials expect Sizemore to be 100 percent at some point during spring training.
By the Numbers: 1 – Arbitration-eligible Indians player who as of Feb. 2 remained unsigned: SS Asdrubal Cabrera.
Quote to Note: "I didn't anticipate he would land there." -- Manager Manny Acta, on free agent 1B Prince Fielder signing with the Central Division-rival Tigers.