Day 1 of the Winter Meetings
The Indians began this year’s Winter Meetings with a bang, finalizing a trade with the A’s to bring slugger Brandon Moss to Cleveland. That addressed the need for a power bat for the Tribe, which is still exploring ways to improve its pitching depth.
Here are some Day 1 items and notes involving the Indians:
- Moss brings some serious pop to the Tribe’s lineup (one homer per 15.93 at-bats over the past three seasons) and positional versatility (first base and the corner outfield spots). He also has a strong reputation for being a valuable part of a clubhouse.
- But, but, Moss isn’t a right-handed hitter! [sarcasm] Said Indians general manager Chris Antonetti: “The thing we continually try to focus on is scoring more runs and preventing them. We felt Brandon significantly impacts our ability to score more runs. It made sense in that way. We have to find ways to balance that and make sure we are productive in as many ways as we can and have the right options for [manager Terry Francona]. Brandon fits into that.”
- To get Moss, Cleveland traded 24-year-old Joe Wendle (a sixth-round pick in 2012). Wendle has an .828 OPS in his Minor League career and won the organization’s Minors hitter of the year award in ’13. That said, players such as Jason Kipnis, Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor were blocking Wendle’s path to the Majors.
- Does Antonetti think Wendle is close to being MLB ready? Said the GM: “He’ll have a clearer path to the big leagues to Oakland than we would have had with us. That is one of the silver linings in trading him. Not only [is he] a real good player and performer, but a great person.”
- To add Moss to the 40-man roster, Cleveland designated righty Bryan Price for assignment. The Indians now have 10 days to either trade or release the 28-year-old Price, or assign him to the Minors, if he clears waivers. Price came to Cleveland (with righty Justin Masterson and lefty Nick Hagadone) as part of the 2009 trade that sent Victor Martinez to Boston.
- With Moss in the fold now, Antonetti was asked if he will still look to add offense: “We’ll look to improve our position players if we can. This is a big step towards that, but if there are other opportunities that present itself that way, we’ll examine them. More of our attention will be on pitching.”
- Cleveland now has a surplus of options for a first base-right field-DH rotation. Moss (1B, LF/RF, DH), Nick Swisher (1B, RF, DH), Carlos Santana (1B, DH), David Murphy (LF, RF) and Ryan Raburn (1B, 2B, LF, RF, DH) are all in the mix. In that grouping, Murphy and Raburn appear to be the most logical trade candidates, but the Indians will surely continue to gauge interest in Swisher.
- What does the Moss trade mean for Swisher? Antonetti: “We expect him to be a big part of the team. His focus is on getting healthy for the start of Spring Training. The one thing we know about Nick is he is a productive player when healthy and offers versatility to play the outfield and first base.” Translation: trading Swisher will not be easy, considering his offensive regression, recent injury history and lucrative contract.
- Could the Indians really carry all of Moss, Swisher, Santana, Murphy and Raburn on the roster? Antonetti: “We could. Right now, we could go to camp the way we are and open the season with the team we have. This gives us a lot of versatility and depth to our team. We’ll see what other opportunities present themselves.”
- How is Swisher doing in his rehab from his knee surgeries? Antonetti: “He had a recheck in Cleveland two weeks ago. It went well. Recently, [members of the training staff] visited Swish in New Orleans and felt like he was progressing well. Nothing really new to report, other than that he is in the rehab process and hopefully he will be ready for games in Spring Training.”
- Could Moss (hip surgery in October) open the regular season on the DL? Antonetti: “It’s not our expectation that he will open the year on the DL, but it’s a possibility. A lot depends on how quickly he progresses. Our expectation is he will be in games during Spring Training and ready for the start of the season.”
- Two other rumors that swirled around the Manchester Grand Hyatt on Day 1: Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reported that teams have called about Santana and Joel Sherman of the New York Post said the Indians had interest in Braves outfielder Justin Upton. I don’t see either report having much legs. Calling about Santana makes sense. He’s one of the games top hitters when it comes to the combination of power and patience, and he’s got a good contract. That doesn’t mean Cleveland is looking to trade him. As for Upton, there’s really no room in the inn. The outfield is crowded with the aforementioned logjam, plus the presence of center fielder Michael Bourn and left fielder Michael Brantley. Unless the Indians find a taker for Bourn (freeing up a possible move back to center for Brantley), I don’t see how Upton fits.
- The Indians have two very cool fan experiences up for auction in an MLB partnership with the non-profit organization, LUNGevity, which helps raise awareness and money for lung cancer. The auction lasts through Thursday and proceeds benefit cancer research and treatment: MLB.com/lungevity
- Scroll down to check out a Q&A with Moss, who discussed the trade, reuniting with Francona, working his way back from hip surgery and more. Or, hey, if you don’t feel like scrolling, you could always CLICK HERE.
Stay tuned for more…