Winter Meetings: Monday

OprylandGreetings from the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville. Above is the view from our perch outside the MLB.com workroom. Below, that’s only a fraction of this hotel’s floorplan. It’s a maze. I’ve already found myself lost a couple of times, and I’ve been here before.

Over the next four days, all kinds of baseball types will be on hand for scheduled meetings in ballrooms and behind closed doors. The MLB meetings are not what make this event interesting, though. It’s the fact that this annual fest becomes a hive for offseason roster activity.

The Indians are in the market for help for the rotation, first base, left field and designated hitter. Certainly, other areas could stand to be upgraded, too. This week, Cleveland media on hand will have daily sit-downs with GM Chris Antonetti to discuss the current plan, and some of the possible moves coming.

Indians president Mark Shapiro will be here as well, along with new manager Terry Francona. On Wednesday, Francona will have a sit-down in the afternoon with reporters to field questions and give his thoughts on hat lies ahead for this Indians club.

Keep checking back here and on Indians.com/MLB.com for all the latest rumors and reports from these Winter Meetings. Make sure you are following me on Twitter (@MLBastian) as well. I will keep updating the blog as often as I can to keep you informed of the daily rumors or interviews:

  • 7:45 a.m. CT — Discovered a Starbucks self-serve machine outside the main media work room. You just grab a cup, swipe a credit card and pick your blend. Boom, coffee! Welcome to the future. The machines are slowly taking over.
  • 8:30 a.m. CT — MLB.com has confirmed the Plain Dealer’s report that the Indians are in the process of selling the SportsTime Ohio TV Network to Fox. The P-D estimated that the deal could be worth between $200-250 million. I was unable to confirm how accuracy of that suggested price tag.
  • Word is that the Indians are asking a lot for shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and right fielder Shin-Soo Choo. It goes wthout saying that acquiring young pitching is a priority in any deal. There are mixed opinions on whether Cleveland is set on “blowing it up” (i.e. trading the likes of Cabrera, Choo and/or Chris Perez) or if the team plans on standing pat.
  • I feel that recently non-tendered lefty John Lannan would be a great fit for the Indians. That said, I think this winter’s pitching market will play in his favor. If teams get into an over-paying range for Lannan, I don’t think Cleveland will be in the mix.
  • 11:30 a.m. CT — According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the Indians had serious interest in James Loney before he signed with the Rays.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera reportedly has a limited no-trade clause in his contract — can block trades to Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Nationals, Giants and Mets.
  • 6 p.m. CT — We met with Antonetti in his suite a little while ago. I will follow with some highlights in a bit.
  • MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince has learned that free-agent OF Grady Sizemore underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee in September. He will be sidelined until at least mid-season. The guy just can’t catch a break.
  • Indians have been linked to free-agent outfielder Scott Hairston.

Highlights from sit-down with Antonetti:

  • The GM said the recent knee surgery for righty Corey Kluber did make starting pitching more of a priority than it already was this winter. Kluber should be ready to compete for a job in the spring. Antonetti said, “It remains a goal of ours to add alternatives to our starting rotation.”
  • Asked if the team absolutely needs to add a new first baseman, Antonetti replied: “We feel we have some internal options with the guys currently on our roster and in the organization, but we’re not going to limit ourselves in the way we can potentially improve. So if there’s the right first baseman that makes sense, that we think can improve the team, we’ll look to do it.”
  • Matt LaPorta isn’t on the 40-man roster, but he will be in spring trying to earn a job. Antonetti said, “It’s an important offseason for Matt to make sure he first accomplishes his [hip] rehabilitation goals and comes into Spring Training ready to earn a spot. And we’ll continue to commit the resources necessary to help him along the way.”
  • Antonetti said Russ Canzler’s “most comfortable” position is first base. As for Canzler’s up-and-down showing in September, Antonetti said, “It was his first opportunity at the Major League level to get more extensive playing time. He showed some promise in the at-bats that he did get, but it’s hard for any player in their first Major League exposure to have a lot of consistency.”
  • It sounds as though Antonetti is leaning toward keeping Michael Brantley in center field: “Right now, I’d expect Michael to be our center fielder. Michael has versatility to go to left if we decide that’s the best thing for our team, but we’re confident with Michael being our center fielder. We will not limit ourselves. We’ve been pretty exhaustive in our search with both trades and free agents with outfielders.”
  • The Indians have allowed lefties Chris Seddon and Raffy Perez to hit free agency this winter, but Antonetti is not making acquiring left-handed relief a top priority: “[Scott] Barnes, [Nick] Hagadone, [Tony]Sipp give us three pretty good options. But, again, if there’s that right guy out there that makes sense, we’ll pursue it.”
  • Antonetti also noted that he has made it clear to the agents for Raffy Perez, Jack Hannahan and Seddon that the Indians have interest in re-signing them for 2013.
  • Antonetti isn’t cornering himself in terms of filling the DH role. He likes flexibility in the role, but is open to a full-time DH if it makes sense. He also would not rule out re-signing DH Travis Hafner: “
    Potentially. We haven’t lost sight of that.”
  • As for Sizemore, who has such familiarity with Cleveland’s training staff, Antonetti also wouldn’t rule out bringing the outfielder back. “We wouldn’t close any doors,” said the GM. “We’ve talked about it with Grady. If there’s the right fit that made sense, we’d be open-minded to it.” Of course, if Sizemore isn’t an option until at least mid-season, it seems unlikely that any club would sign him before the season.

–JB

5 Comments

Thanks, Jordan. I might be in the minority, but I’m still on board with the Shapiro/Antonetti team. Sometimes, though, they really exhibit a lack of self-awareness. The polo shirts and wishy-washy corporate speak make me feel less like a fan than a guy trapped in an endless management meeting. It might be unfair, but it’s pretty hard to get excited about fits that make sense or adding alternatives.

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