In 2021, former Minnesota outfielder Eddie Rosario was a .353 career hitter at Cleveland’s Progressive … [+]
When the Cleveland Indians sold shortstop Francisco Lindor and pitcher Carlos Carrasco to the New York Mets on Jan. 7, Cleveland President Chris Antonetti said the deal gave the Indians “the financial opportunity to reinvest in the team, what makes us more competitive. “
This reinvestment is officially underway as three freelance agents have signed humble, club-friendly contracts.
The third of these signings became official on Thursday when the free agent outfielder Eddie Rosario landed his physical deal and signed a one-year deal for $ 8 million.
Also on Thursday, the Indians signed the free agent reliever Bryan Shaw for a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp as a non-squad player. If he wins a major league spot, Shaw, who set an Indian record with 80 appearances in the 2014 season, would receive a salary of $ 1 million.
On January 29, Cleveland signed a second one-year deal with Cesar Hernandez for $ 5 million with a club option of $ 6 million for the 2022 season.
The Indians are expected to still have one of the lowest payrolls in the majors this season, but signing three free agents for a total of $ 13 or 14 million is kind of an attention grabber.
Rosario addresses Cleveland’s anemic outfield last year which produced a meager slash line of .196 / .270 / .304. It also brings to Cleveland a batsman who has worn Indian pitchers for the past six years with rival AL Central, Minnesota.
In 352 careers with bats versus the Indians, Rosario had a batting average of 0.301 with 22 home runs, 47 RBI and an OPS of 0.897. At Cleveland’s Progressive Field, at 170 on bats, Rosario is a .353 career hitter with 11 home runs, 25 RBI, and an OPS of 1,031.
“It’s nice to have him on this side of the ball at this point,” said Antonetti. “I have many memories over many years of how he beat us all kinds of pitches in all kinds of places outside the ballpark. So it’s good to have your racket in our line-up. We think that he fits in really well and adds a top-class Major League outfielder to our mix. “
Rosario is immediately placed somewhere in the middle of the Indian line-up. The 28-year-old left-hander will be the starter on one of the corner fields.
“We’re still working on whether he’ll play left or right field but we see him as a capable defender in both places and he’s open to any position,” said Antonetti.
The signing of the 30-year-old Hernandez is a homecoming after just a few months of absence. Signed by the Indians on a one-year contract for $ 6.2 million prior to the 2020 season, Hernandez had a stellar season with 0.283, led the American League with 20 doubles and won his first career gold glove.
After the season he became a free agent, but then signed again with the Indians.
“At the end of the season we said we would like to bring Cesar back. But at the time, given our financial situation at the time, we weren’t sure if this would happen, ”said Antonetti. “But because of the steps we took at the beginning of the year, we were able to bring Cesar back and we are delighted. He brought so much to our team last year, offensively, defensively, on the bases and in the clubhouse. We look forward to welcoming him back. “
Antonetti said Hernandez’s return will allow him, along with all-star third-party bases Jose Ramirez, to “give the Indians some stability for what is otherwise considered a younger infield”.
The shortstop is expected to be either 22-year-old Andres Gimenez or 25-year-old Amed Rosario, two of the four players the Indians got from the Mets in the Lindor / Carrasco deal.
On the first base, Antonetti said the leading candidates are 25-year-old Jake Bauers, 24-year-old minor league thug Bobby Bradley, who has averaged 25 home races in each of his six minor league seasons, and the 23 year old Josh Naylor when Naylor doesn’t start in the outfield.
The Indian bullpen is still in the works after the Major League free agent’s exit saved leader Brad Hand. At 33, Shaw’s prime may be behind him, but the Indians bought little money in the hope that he could recapture some of the magic he showed during his first business trip to Cleveland. For the five years from 2013-17, Shaw was one of the majors’ longest-lived, most trusted aides. For three of those five years he led the league in appearances, including a club record of 80 games in 2014.
Shaw left as a free agent after the 2017 season but has had problems since then. In two years with Colorado and one with Seattle, he had a combined 6.17 ERA.
“He was a stabilizing presence in our bullpen for almost half a decade,” said Antonetti. “We look forward to having him back in the group and having him fight for a job in the Bullpen because we know at his best that he has the chance to be a really effective and lasting helper.”