Posts Tagged ‘Sports’

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.”

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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 Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.



Indians: With Carmona in limbo, Tribe trades for Slowey

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Chris Assenheimer

The Chronicle-Telegram

CLEVELAND – The Indians moved quickly to take precautions against the uncertain future of Fausto Carmona.

With Carmona still detained in the Dominican Republic, Cleveland acquired starting pitcher Kevin Slowey and cash considerations Friday in a trade with Colorado for minor league reliever Zach Putnam. Carmona, the Indians’ opening day starter last year, was arrested Thursday on false identity charges that claim his real name is Roberto Hernandez Heredia and that he is 31-years-old and not 28, as listed in Cleveland’s media guide.

Though general manager Chris Antonetti said the Indians have had longtime interest in Slowey, a right-hander who went 0-8 with a 6.67 ERA for Minnesota last year, it was clear that Carmona’s sticky status played a part in the acquisition.

“For a lot of reasons, this made sense,” Antonetti said of the Slowey trade. “There’s obviously some uncertainty with Fausto’s situation, but we’ve looked to improve the team any way possible this offseason. We feel that we’ve added and improved our starting pitching alternatives. But, certainly, with Fausto’s situation, it lends more clarity to (Slowey) having a chance to make the major league roster.”

As he works through visa problems in the Dominican, Carmona is not likely to arrive on time for spring training. Cleveland’s pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Goodyear, Ariz., Feb. 19.

According to Antonetti, Slowey, 27, will enter training camp competing for Carmona’s spot in the rotation, presumably against right-hander Jeanmar Gomez and lefty David Huff. Slowey does have a minor league option available.

Antonetti would not discuss Carmona’s situation directly, but said that manager Manny Acta has spoken with the pitcher and that the Indians have been in touch with Carmona’s legal representatives in the Dominican.

“We’re going to continue to refrain from commenting (on Carmona) until we have a little bit more clarity,” Antonetti said.

The Associated Press reported Friday afternoon that Carmona offered a tearful apology after being released on bail of around $13,000.

“I ask for the forgiveness of my fans, the government of the United States and the Cleveland Indians for this situation,” Carmona said.

According to the AP story, lawyers for Carmona said the pitcher would speak in more detail at a later news conference, but there is no indication as to when he will be able to return to America. A judge ordered him not to leave the Dominican as the investigation into his case continues.

ESPN’s Pedro Gomez reported that the family of the real Fausto Carmona turned the pitcher in after he refused to increase the amount of money he was paying them to keep his identity a secret.

Meanwhile, Slowey joins Cleveland’s shell-shocked fold with five years of big league experience – all with Central Division rival Minnesota.

His 2011 season was derailed by oblique and shoulder injuries, but in three straight years prior to that, Slowey posted double-digit win totals while pitching out of the Twins rotation. He owns a career 39-29 record and 4.66 ERA in 100 games (90 starts), with an 18-10 mark and 4.93 ERA against Central Division opponents – 6-3 with a 3.99 ERA in 11 starts against Cleveland (3-1 with a 2.63 ERA in four starts at Progressive Field).

“He struggled with minor injuries last year but we feel he has the ability to get back to where he’s been in the past and help our major league team,” said Antonetti, who indicated that Slowey is not a candidate for the final spot in the bullpen.

Minnesota traded Slowey to Colorado in December for a player to be named, with Slowey signing a one-year contract worth $2.7 million to avoid arbitration with the Rockies. Colorado is responsible for $1.25 million of Slowey’s 2012 contract.

The 24-year-old Putnam, Cleveland’s fifth-round draft pick in 2008, spent the majority of last season at Triple-A Columbus, where he went 6-3 with a 3.65 ERA and nine saves in 44 games. He appeared in eight games for the Indians, going 1-1 with a 6.14 ERA.

The Indians also continued to bolster their outfield depth Friday, signing Ryan Spilborghs to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training camp. Spilborghs, a career .272 hitter in seven seasons with Colorado, was a starter in 2009-10, but battled injuries last year and batted just .210 in 98 games.

Cleveland will have 12 outfielders in camp this spring, including projected starters Shin-Soo Choo, Grady Sizemore and Michael Brantley.

The Indians lost out in their bid to sign free-agent first baseman Carlos Pena, who agreed to a one-year deal with his former team Tampa Bay on Friday worth $7.25 million. There have been reports that Cleveland outbid the Rays, but there have been other reports that the Indians made no offer at all.

In search of a first baseman, Cleveland could now turn its attention to Casey Kotchman, who played first for the Rays last year after Pena left to sign a one-year contract with the Cubs. He hit .306 with 10 homers and 48 RBIs in 146 games. Free agents Carlos Lee and Derek Lee are also free agents at the position.


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

Indians: Carmona released from jail

Friday, January 20th, 2012

According to The Associated Press, Indians pitcher Fausto Carmona was released from jail in Dominican Republic on Friday after posting a $13,000 bond.

Carmona, who was arrested Thursday on false identity charges, apologized to fans and the U.S. government.

The charges against Carmona allege that the pitcher’s real name is Roberto Hernandez Heredia and that he is 31-years-old, not 28 as listed in the Indians’ media guide.