Local News

Indians avoid arbitration again, sign Asdrubal Cabrera to one-year deal

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

CLEVELAND — Asdrubal Cabrera was not the streak stopper.

On the verge of going to arbitration with a player for the first time since 1991, the Indians agreed to terms with their all-star shortstop Friday on a one-year contract worth $4.55 million.

The deal is $75,000 above the midpoint of what Cabrera was asking for at arbitration ($5.2 million) and what Cleveland was offering ($3.75 million). His arbitration hearing was scheduled for Wednesday in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the Indians were happy to avoid taking that trip.

“We’re appreciative of Asdrubal’s contributions,” Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. “We certainly value him as a member of the organization and a member of our team. He was a key part of our team over the last few seasons, and we’re looking forward to him contributing in the time that he’s with us.

“How long that extends, it’s going to be at least two years, and it certainly could extend beyond that.”

The 26-year-old Cabrera, the Indians’ best player last season — .273, 25 home runs, 92 RBIs — was in Cleveland last week, reportedly negotiating a multiyear contract that did not come to fruition. The Indians, who control Cabrera’s rights through 2013, could still discuss a long-term deal this spring with their lone all-star from last season.

“We’re always open-minded on alternate contract structures with a variety of players,” Antonetti said. “If there’s something that makes sense, and there’s a value and term that makes sense for both parties, we’ll certainly explore it.”

The Indians were able to come to terms with all seven of their arbitration-eligible players this offseason — Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Chris Perez, Rafael Perez, Justin Masterson, Joe Smith and Jack Hannahan. But all were one-year deals, leaving Cleveland without a player signed past the 2012 season.

That fact has fueled rumors that team owner Larry Dolan, who has been criticized for failing to spend competitively, is trying to sell the franchise.

Antonetti dispelled the notion.

“I think that’s just where we are right now and just the circumstances that have led us to this point,” he said. “There’s no hidden or ulterior motive behind that. I would expect that at some point we will have commitments that extend past 2012. Whether that happens at some point this offseason or at some point this spring or next offseason, we’ll see.

“But it’s not necessarily a calculated strategy. I think we as an organization and our ownership have demonstrated that when those commitments make sense, we’re certainly prepared to make them. And we’ll continue to evaluate those opportunities along the way.”

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Indians: Tribe arbitration streak still intact

Friday, February 10th, 2012

The Indians avoided an arbitration hearing for another season, agreeing to terms Friday on a one-year contract with their only remaining arbitration eligible player, All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.

Cabrera will earn $4.55 million in 2012. The contract was $75,000 above the midpoint of what Cabrera was asking at arbitration ($5.2 million) and the $3.75 million Cleveland was offering.

The Indians have not gone to arbitration with a player since 1991.

Indians glad to have Kotchman and vice versa

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

CLEVELAND — The Indians have been after Casey Kotchman for awhile. They officially got him Friday.

“We feel like we brought in a guy that complements our group very well,” Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti said of Kotchman, a free-agent first baseman who signed a one-year contract worth

$3 million plus incentives ($1.75 million). “We’ve had long-standing interest in Casey and his abilities.”

Antonetti tried to lure Kotchman to Cleveland prior to last season, which wound up being Kotchman’s best in six-plus years in the majors. Kotchman chose to sign with Tampa Bay instead.

The Rays brought Carlos Pena back to play first this year, and the Indians, who pursued both Pena and Kotchman this offseason, landed Kotchman on their second try.

“I’m really excited to join the club,” said Kotchman, who batted a career-high .306 with 10 home runs and 48 RBIs in 146 games for Tampa Bay last year.

“Just seeing how great a start (the Indians) got off to last year. That was fun for me to watch on the outside, just being a fan of baseball and seeing how good they were playing.

“For me to have the opportunity to go up there this season and try to help contribute to sustaining that start, it’s exciting.”

Though Kotchman, 28, is coming off an impressive year at the plate, the career .268 hitter is expected to provide an even bigger boost to Cleveland’s defense.

First base was a weak link for the Indians last season, with Cleveland players at the position — largely, Matt LaPorta — committing more errors (12) than Kotchman owns during his entire career at first (11). It is a statistic that Kotchman humorously pointed out to Antonetti during a conversation this offseason.

“He’s a standout defensive player, among the best defenders at first base throughout baseball,” Antonetti said. “He not only improves our defense at first base, but he also improves our defense overall in the infield.”

Kotchman, who has committed just three errors the past three seasons, is anxious to join an infield that backs up a sinkerball-laden rotation.

“With the pitching staff, with all the groundball pitchers that they have,” Kotchman said, “and the acrobatic (Asdrubal) Cabrera at short, it’ll be fun for me to be a part of.”

The Indians have all but handed the starting job to Kotchman, meaning LaPorta, who has been a disappointment at the plate and in the field as the regular at first the past two seasons, will be vying for a roster spot as a bench player.

“Matt will come to camp and compete for a job, but there’s one less job to compete for, which is the regular first base job,” Antonetti said. “We’ll see where Matt is at this spring.”

With minor league options available, it is likely that LaPorta will start the year at Triple-A Columbus, if he isn’t traded.

Antonetti said the addition of a first baseman does not necessarily mean the club is finished acquiring players. Cleveland has already signed starting pitcher Derek Lowe and a host of relievers to minor league contracts with invitations to big league training camp.

“I’d like to continue to try to improve,” he said. “I think we’ve been able to address some of our major needs this offseason. I think we’ve accomplished a lot, but certainly, we’re always looking to improve the club anyway we can.”

Negotiating table

Cabrera, the Indians’ lone arbitration eligible player, is in town to discuss a long-term contract with the club.

Cabrera’s arbitration hearing is scheduled in St. Petersburg, Fla., as Cleveland looks to avoid going to arbitration for the first time since 1991.

Cabrera, who said Thursday at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards that he would prefer a multiyear contract, is asking for $5.2 million at arbitration, while the Indians are offering $3.75 million.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

 

 

Indians: Kotchman signing is official

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

CLEVELAND — The Indians have been after Casey Kotchman for awhile. They officially got him Friday.

Cleveland confirmed that it had signed Kotchman to a one-year contract worth $3 million plus incentives ($1.75 million), announcing as much less than 24 hours after reports surfaced that the club had signed the free-agent first baseman.

“We feel like we brought in a guy that complements our group very well,” Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti said. “We’ve had long-standing interest in Casey and his abilities.”

Antonetti tried to lure Kotchman to Cleveland prior to last season, which wound up being Kotchman’s best in six-plus years in the majors after he chose to sign with Tampa Bay instead.

The Rays brought Carlos Pena back to play first this year, and the Indians, who pursued both Pena and Kotchman this offseason, landed Kotchman on their second try.

“I’m really excited to join the club,” said Kotchman, who batted a career-high .306 with 10 home runs and 48 RBIs in 146 games for Tampa Bay last year. “Just seeing how great a start (the Indians) got off to last year. That was fun for me to watch on the outside, just being a fan of baseball and seeing how good they were playing.

“For me to have the opportunity to go up there this season and try to help contribute to sustaining that start, it’s exciting.”

Though Kotchman, 28, is coming off an impressive year at the plate, the career .268 hitter is expected to provide an even bigger boost to Cleveland’s defense.

First base was a weak link for the Indians last season, with Cleveland players at the position – largely, Matt LaPorta – committing more errors (12) than Kotchman owns during his entire career at first (11). It is a statistic that Kotchman humorously pointed out to Antonetti during a conversation this offseason.

“He’s a standout defensive player, among the best defenders at first base throughout baseball,” Antonetti said. “He not only improves our defense at first base, but he also improves our defense overall in the infield.”

Kotchman, who has committed just three errors the past three seasons, is anxious to join an infield that backs up a sinkerball-laden rotation.

“With the pitching staff, with all the groundball pitchers that they have,” Kotchman said, “and the acrobatic (Asdrubal) Cabrera at short, it’ll be fun for me to be a part of.”

The Indians have all but handed the starting job to Kotchman, meaning LaPorta, who has been a disappointment at the plate and in the field as the regular at first the past two seasons, will be vying for a roster spot as a bench player.

“Matt will come to camp and compete for a job, but there’s one less job to compete for, which is the regular first base job,” Antonetti said. “We’ll see where Matt is at this spring.”

With minor league options available, it is likely that LaPorta will start the year at Triple-A Columbus, if he isn’t traded.

Antonetti said the addition of a first baseman does not necessarily mean the club is finished acquiring players. Cleveland has already signed starting pitcher Derek Lowe and a host of relievers to minor league contracts with invitations to big league training camp.

“I’d like to continue to try to improve,” he said. “I think we’ve been able to address some of our major needs this offseason. I think we’ve accomplished a lot, but certainly, we’re always looking to improve the club anyway we can.”

 

Negotiating table

Cabrera, the Indians’ lone arbitration eligible player, is in town to discuss a long-term contract with the club.

Cabrera’s arbitration hearing is scheduled in St. Petersburg, Fla., as Cleveland looks to avoid going to arbitration for the first time since 1991.

Cabrera, who said Thursday at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards that he would prefer a multi-year contract, is asking for $5.2 million at arbitration, while the Indians are offering $3.75 million.

 

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.