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Cleveland Indians’ Michael Brantley receives AL Comeback Player of the Year award

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Michael Brantley on Tuesday night was named AL Comeback Player of the Year by a vote of his peers in the 2018 Players Choice Awards.

Brantley hit .309 (176-for-570) with 35 doubles, 17 homers and 76 RBI for the Indians last season. In 2016 and 2017 Brantley played a total of 101 games because of surgery on his right shoulder and right ankle.

Near the end of the 2015 season Brantley injured his right shoulder trying to make a diving catch in left center field at Target Field. He underwent two surgeries on the shoulder and was limited to just 11 games in 2016.

Brantley made the All-Star Game in 2017, but missed much of the second half of the season with an ankle injury that required surgery immediately after the Indians lost to the Yankees in the ALDS.

This year Brantley played 143 games for the Tribe, making his third All-Star Game, and posting a .832 OPS. Boston’s David Price and Oakland’s Edwin Jackson were the other finalists for the award.

Brantley is a free agent for the first time this winter after spending his first eight plus years in the big leagues with the Indians. He is not expected to re-sign with the Tribe.

Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez was a finalist for the AL’s Outstanding Player. Boston’s Mookie Betts was the winner. J.D. Martinez, Betts’ teammate, was the other finalist.

Here are the other award winners:

*AL Outstanding Pitcher: Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell. Boston’s Chris Sale and Houston’s Justin Verlander were the other finalists.

*AL Outstanding Rookie: Miguel Andujar of the Yankees. Shohei Ohtani of the Angels and Gleyber Torres of the Yankees were the other finalists.

*NL Outstanding Player: Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich. Chicago’s Javier Baez and Colorado’s Trevor Story were the other finalists.

*NL Outstanding Pitcher: Jacob deGrom of the Mets. Washington’s Max Scherzer and Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola were the other finalists.

*NL Outstanding Rookie: Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna. Washington’s Juan Soto and Jack Flaherty of the Cardinals were the other finalists.

*NL Comeback Player: Matt Kemp of the Dodgers. Arizona’s Clay Buchholz and Miles Mikolas of the Cardinals were the other finalists.

*Marvin Miller Man of the Year award: Milwaukee’s Curtis Granderson. Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt and Mike Trout of the Angels were finalists.

Granderson received $50,000 to donate to his favorite charity. The other eight winners received $20,000 to donate to their favorite charities.


CLEVELAND, Ohio — It’s no secret that the Cleveland Indians are working feverishly this offseason to achieve a greater degree of payroll flexibility while still remaining a title threat in the American League.

The hot stove has been simmering with talk of the Tribe’s desire to deal higher-priced veterans — including key members of the team’s very deep starting pitching rotation — to a contending team that can afford to take on their salaries. Names that continue to pop up include righties Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, while position players such as catcher Yan Gomes have also recently surfaced as possible trade candidates.

But the player that makes the most sense for president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff to deal away is none other than the irascible Trevor Bauer. A tweet Tuesday from MLB Network insider Bob Nightengale suggests that while much has been made about Cleveland being active in discussions with other clubs about Kluber and Carrasco, it’s actually Bauer who the team is most likely to move.

Teams talking to the Cleveland #Indians say the Indians are much more inclined to trade Trevor Bauer than Corey Kluber or Carlos Carrasco. Bauer has 2 years of club control left, but the only one of the starters with cost uncertainty. He has two arbitration years left before FA.

— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 27, 2018

Bauer, however, doesn’t see things that way. Earlier this month, the 27-year-old righty tweeted his thoughts on the matter around the time that word got out the Yankees were interested in either Kluber or Carrasco.

And let’s be honest. It makes no sense to trade me this year. I’m still playing at a massive discount. Next year is when it would make sense to trade me

— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) November 6, 2018

Bauer wants to get paid as if he has already won a Cy Young Award. And he’s on record saying he will never sign a long-term contract, only one-year deals.

But if they can’t or won’t re sign me in free agency then they 100% should trade me and try to get something of value in return right? That’s how you stay consistently competitive

— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) November 6, 2018

Bauer was an Cy Young contender and among the American League leaders in ERA, strikeouts, strikeouts per nine innings and wins above replacement before an August injury derailed his season. He finished fifth in Cy Young voting.

Though not eligible for free agency until after the 2020 season, Bauer made a little more than $6.5 million last year in his first year of arbitration. If he continues to develop and pitch at an elite level, his subsequent arbitration salary award could skyrocket. He’s already projected to receive nearly a $5 million raise for 2019.

Coupled with Francisco Lindor’s first-year arbitration award that’s expected to exceed $10 million, the Indians could be faced with unmanageable payroll responsibilities beyond next season.

From the Indians’ perspective, trading Bauer now makes more sense if they expect him to repeat and improve upon his breakout 2018 campaign. The return in terms of Major League-ready players and prospects would be greater in a trade for Bauer, who has two years of club control, is younger and has proven to be more durable than either Kluber or Carrasco.

Kluber, signed through 2021, is set to earn $15.2 million in 2019 with a possible $4 million escalator based on performance. His base salaries are $15.5M for 2020 and $16M for 2021 with up to $2M in bonuses based on how he finishes in Cy Young voting each year according to Spotrac Carrasco, signed through 2020, will earn $9.75 million in 2019 and $9.5M the following season.

That money can be budgeted and planned for since the contracts are already signed. Bauer’s situation is different because his arbitration award could fluctuate dramatically.

In 2014, Max Scherzer got $15.5M from Detroit in his third year of arbitration on the heels of his first Cy Young. In 2015, David Price made $19.75M from the Tigers in his fourth arbitration year (2015), with a 2012 Cy Young already under his belt.

If the Indians retain Bauer and he comes through with a Cy Young season in 2019, they could be on the hook for more than $16M in salary the following year, and trading Bauer at that time would net less of a return because only a few teams would be able to afford a one-year rental at that price.

Trading Bauer now might appear to make no sense at all, but in terms of the bigger picture, it might be the key to keeping the Indians in contention in 2019 and beyond.

Free agent Andrew Miller is one of many free agents not expected to re-sign with the Indians for 2019. Miller made three trips to the disabled list last season.

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Last winter the Indians had seven free agents and didn’t re-sign one of them. This winter they have 12 and if one of them is re-signed it will be a surprise.

On Monday the Atlanta Braves signed Josh Donaldson to a one-year $23 million deal. A few hours later, it was reported that Lonnie Chisenhall had accepted a one-year deal with the Pirates for $2.75 million.

This is the drip, drip, drip of the offseason and Indians fans should realize that Donaldson and Chisenhall aren’t the only ones who will be telling them goodbye. Michael Brantley, Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Melky Cabrera, Josh Tomlin, Brandon Guyer, Oliver Perez, Adam Rosales, Rajai Davis and Brandon Barnes could be next.

The chances of it happening two players at a time as it did Monday are slim. But make no mistake. The likelihood of any of the 10 remaining free agents, all of whom spent time with the Indians in 2018, re-signing is remote. Maybe the Indians sign one or two – remember they signed Cabrera in April and Perez in June — if the market is as flat as it was last winter.

The last thing on the mind of Chris Antonetti and the rest of the front office is free agents – their own or any other team’s. Here’s the giveaway. The Braves signed Donaldson for $23 million. The Pirates signed Chisenhall for $2.75 million. That’s about the range you’d figure the Indians’ remaining free agents would fall between. And the Indians can’t play at either end of that spectrum.

Maybe they bring Barnes or Rosales back on a minor league deal with a spring training invite, but that’s about it. It’s not that they don’t recognize the talent they’re letting walk away. Financially, however, they can’t afford to keep it.

The Indians set a franchise record in payroll last year at $135 million. It’s going to stay in that neighborhood for 2019 based on raises through existing contracts and arbitration.

This is what happens when a small to mid-market team contends for an extended period of time. The Indians have posted six straight winning seasons and gone to the postseason four times. Until 2017, there has been little turnover in the roster.

When a front office keeps a talented roster together for an extended period of time, that roster gets more and more expensive. That’s why the Indians shed free agents Carlos Santana, Bryan Shaw, Joe Smith, Jay Bruce and Austin Jackson after they won 102 games in 2017. That’s why they’re going to do the same thing this winter.

Antonetti, president of baseball operations, GM Mike Chernoff and all the other members of the front office have done a good job of signing players to long-term team friendly contracts. Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Jose Ramirez, Yan Gomes, Roberto Perez, Dan Otero, Jason Kipnis accepted such deals. So did free agents Brantley, Tomlin and Guyer.

But now those team-friendly contracts are costing more and more money. The combined arbitration price tag for Francisco Lindor and Trevor Bauer is expected to top $20 million this winter. That’s why the Indians are examining trade possibilities instead free agent signings.

A trade could potentially create some cash that they could use on a free agent. But trades have to come first.

If they can do that, they still have to find a way to fix the outfield and the bullpen, while continuing to not only reach the postseason, but to have a chance to win the World Series. Not an easy job.

Free agent Lonnie Chisenhall, limited to 29 games with the Indians last season because of calf injuries, has agreed to a one-year $2.75 million deal with the Pirates for 2019.

CLEVELAND, Ohio – On Monday two of the Indians 12 free agents agreed to terms with other teams.

First, Josh Donaldson signed a one-year $23 million deal with Atlanta. Then Lonnie Chisenhall reportedly signed a one-year $2.75 million deal with the Pirates.

Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic was the first to report the Chisenhall deal.

Chisenhall, the Indians No.1 pick in 2008, played just 29 games last season because of injuries to both calves. He played just 82 games in 2017, missing most of the second half of the season, with a strained right calf.

When he was healthy this year, Chisenhall hit the ball well. He batted .321 (27-for-84) with one homer and nine RBI. In 2017 he was leading the Indians in RBI at the All-Star break, but injured his calf right before the break and was never a factor after that.

Chisenhall’s contract contains $3 million in incentives based on plate appearances from 250 to 600. Durability, however, has been a problem for Chisenhall. Last season Chisenhall went on the DL with a strained left calf on July 3 and did not play again. He did not join the team for the postseason as well.

For the last six years manager Terry Francona used him mostly as a platoon player against right-handed hitters. Since playing 142 games in 2014, Chisenhall has never played more than 126 games in a season.

The Indians drafted Chisenhall, 30, as a third baseman. That’s where he played from 2011 until he was optioned to Class AAA Columbus in 2015. When he returned after the All-Star break, Chisenhall moved to right field and has played there ever since.

The Indians still have 10 free agents on the market — Andrew Miller, Cody Allen, Michael Brantley, Josh Tomlin, Brandon Guyer, Rajai Davis, Oliver Perez, Adam Rosales, Melky Cabrera and Brandon Barnes.

Mark Budzinski, after one-year on manager Terry Francona’s coaching staff with the Indians, has been hired by the Toronto Blue Jays to be their first base coach.

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Indians must be doing something right because other teams keep hiring their staff members.

Toronto has hired Mark Budzinski as their new first base coach. The Jays revamped coaching staff under new manager Charlie Montoyo will be announced Tuesday.

Budzinski just finished his first year on manager Terry Francona’s coaching staff. He worked with the outfielders and prepared scouting reports and analytics on the Tribe’s opponents. He prepared the pocket scouting reports that the Tribe outfielders carried in their back pockets on the opposing hitters during games.

The Indians drafted Budzinski in the 21st round in 1995. He played seven years in their minor league organization, but didn’t reach the big leagues until 2003 when he played four games with the Reds.

Budzinski managed in the Tribe’s minor league system from 2014 through 2017 before joining Francona’s staff along with Brian Sweeney before the 2018 season.

The Indians have lost Budzinski, Steve Karsay and Chris Tremie this offseason. Karsay left to become the Milwaukee Brewers’ bullpen coach, while Tremie joined the Reds as their minor league field coordinator. Karsay, who just finished his seventh season as a pitching coach in the Tribe’s minor league system, spent the last three at Class AAA Columbus. Tremie just finished his sixth season managing Columbus and 12th season in the organization.

Budzinski needed no introduction to Toronto GM Ross Atkins. Before moving to Toronto in 2015, Atkins worked for the Indians for 15 years.

Edwin Encarnacion and the Indians were swept out of the ALDS by Houston in three games in October after winning the AL Central for the third straight year.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — If nothing else, the Indians’ brief trip to the postseason in October was lucrative.

MLB announced playoff shares Monday for each team qualifying for the postseason in 2018. A full share for the World Series champion Red Sox was worth $416,837.72. For the Dodgers, the World Series runner-up for the second straight year, a full share was worth $262,027.49.

The Indians, after winning the AL Central for the third straight year, were swept in the best-of-five ALDS by Houston in three games. The Indians’ share of the postseason pool was $2,866,130.59. A full share was worth $37,040.29.

The Tribe’s players awarded 67 full shares, 8.570 partial shares and 10 cash awards. The distribution of the money is voted on by the players before the start of the postseason. Players, managers, coaches and staff members are all eligible for shares.

In the last six years, Indians’ players and staff members have cashed four postseason checks.

The players share of the 2018 playoff pool was a record $88,188,633.49. Here’s how it’s formed: 50 percent of the gate receipts from the wild card games; 60 percent of the gate receipts from the first three games of the division series; 60 percent of the gate receipts from the first four games of the league championship series and 60 percent of the gate receipts from the first four games of the World Series.

Here’s a team by team breakdown:

World Series:

*Red Sox: Share of pool $31,747,908.06; full share $416,837.72. The Red Sox awarded 66 full shares, 10.025 partial shares and eight cash awards.

*Dodgers: Share of pool $21,165.272.04; full share $262,027.49. The Dodgers awarded 67 full shares, 13.290 partial shares and 24 cash awards.

ALCS runner-up.

*Astros: Share of pool $10,582,636.00; full share $154,656.05. The Astros awarded 56 full shares, 12.22 partial shares and five cash awards.

NLCS runner-up.

*Brewers: Share of pool $10,582,636.02; full share $122,957.13. The Brewers award 64 full shares, 21.051 partial shares and four cash awards.

ALDS runners-up

*Indians: Share of pool $2,866,130.59; full share $37,040.29. The Indians awarded 67 full shares, 8.570 partial shares and 10 cash awards.

*Yankees: Share of pool $2,866,130.59; full share $43,081.55. The Yankees issued 45 full shares, 21.470 partial shares and two cash awards.

NLDS runners-up

*Braves: Share of pool $2,866,130.59; full share $40,375.74. The Braves awarded 65 full shares, 5.875 partial shares and seven cash awards.

*Rockies: Share of pool $2,866,130.59; full share $40,355.96. The Rockies issued 58 full shares, 12.833 partial shares and seven cash awards.

Wild card runners-up.

*Cubs: Share of pool $1,322,829.50; full share $16,155.34. The Cubs issued 68 full shares and a total of 13.882 partial shares.

*Athletics: Share of pool $1,322,829.50; full share $19,760.35. The A’s awarded 57 full shares, 9.083 partial shares and 15 cash awards.

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Josh Donaldson heading to Atlanta Braves on one-year, $23 million deal, according to repor

Josh Donaldson appeared in 19 games with the Indians after joining the team in September. 

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson has agreed to a one-year, $23 million deal with the Atlanta Braves pending a physical, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.

Donaldson in agreement with #Braves on one-year, $23M free-agent contract, sources tell The Athletic. Deal is pending a physical.


Donaldson, acquired from Toronto by the Cleveland Indians in a trade at the 11th hour in late August, appeared in 19 games for the Tribe, including three playoff starts.

The $23 million deal is commensurate with Donaldson’s 2018 salary in his final arbitration year, which at the time was a record for an arbitration-eligible player.

Donaldson, 32, will be reunited with Atlanta general manager Alex Anthopoulos when he joins the Braves. Anthopoulos was the GM in Toronto who traded Brett Lawrie and three prospects in 2014 to acquire Donaldson from Oakland.

On Aug. 31, Cleveland traded RHP Julian Merryweather to the Blue Jays for Donaldson, who had spent the previous three months on the disabled list with a strained calf.

Donaldson slowly worked his way into the Cleveland Lineup, first making rehab stops with the franchise’s Double-A and Triple-A farm teams before making his Tribe debut Sep. 11 in Tampa Bay.

He hit .280 with three home runs, three doubles, seven RBI and an OPS of .920 in 50 regular-season at-bats for the Indians. In the postseason against Houston, Donaldson was limited to one base hit (1-for-11), in his final at-bat of the series.

It’s time for Cleveland Indians’ catcher Yan Gomes to feel the heat of baseball’s Hot Stove seaso


CLEVELAND, Ohio — This is the time of year when baseball executives spend a lot of hours texting and talking to each other. Sometimes it leads to trades, but almost always it leads to rumors that add heat to the hot stove season.

Chris Antonetti, Mike Chernoff, Carter Hawkins and other members of the Indians’ front office have been talking to a lot of teams this winter. They have little, if any, money to spend on the free agent market, but they have a roster full of players that other teams like and holes to fill in the outfield and bullpen.

That leads to rumors such as catcher Yan Gomes being traded the Mets or Dodgers. Not to mention starting pitchers Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco or Trevor Bauer being traded to any number of teams.


#Indians, #Dodgers engaged in “lots of different discussions,” sources tell The Athletic. LA likes CLE SPs and C Yan Gomes also would fit. CLE needs OFers; LAD has Pederson, Puig, Verdugo, plus young catching. Both clubs also talking to others. LAD in mix for #Marlins’ Realmuto.

“We have a lot of players that other teams value and that leads to a lot of conversations between teams,” said Antonetti, Indians president of baseball operations. “That’s not any different this offseason than any other off season. … Teams talk about a wide variety of players.”

This week Gomes has been a hot topic. Not only have the Dodgers been mentioned, but also the Mets. Mets manager Callaway, the Tribe’s former pitching coach, knows Gomes well.

Gomes, 31, is coming off what manager Terry Francona called his steadiest season. He hit .266 (107-for-403) with 26 doubles, 16 homers and 48 RBI and won the starting job outright from Roberto Perez. Gomes played his most games (112) since 2014 and stayed healthy after missing time in 2015 and 2016 with knee, shoulder and hand injuries.

In 2019 Gomes will make $7 million. The Indians hold club options worth $9 million and $11 million for 2020 and 2021.

There are two questions that the Indians have to answer if they trade Gomes. No. 1, could a one-on-one deal involving Gomes fill one of their needs in the bullpen or outfield? Or would Gomes have to be packaged with another player? No. 2, Can Perez and Eric Haase provide enough offense at catcher or would they need to go out and get more help?

Perez just had his worst season in the big leagues, hitting .168 (30-for-179) with two homers and 19 RBI. Haase hit .236 (102-for-433) with 20 homers and 71 RBI at Class AAA Columbus. He hit .125 (2-for-16) in nine games with the Indians.

If the Indians did trade Gomes, it would give them the ability to dabble in the free agent market. Right now, the chances of that happening are slim.

The catching market is crowded. The top name is Miami’s J.T. Realmuto. Then comes Dodgers free agent Yasmani Grandal. In the regular season, Grandal hit .241 (106-for-440) with 24 homers and 68 RBI.

Teams have been trying to trade for Realmuto for more than a year. The Marlins hung on to him during last winter’s fire sale and he did nothing to hurt his reputation as one of the best catchers in the game by hitting .277 (132-fopr-477) with 30 doubles, 21 homers and 74 RBI.

The Dodgers and Houston are said to be interested in Realmuto. So were the Nationals until they signed Kurt Suzuki to a two-year deal on Monday.

Grandal is a free agent, which is one of the reasons the Dodgers are interested in Realmuto and Gomes. The Dodgers also have catching prospects in Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith, who could help make a deal for Gomes more palatable to the Indians should one of them be included. Ruiz and Smith have not played above Class AA.

Houston could use a catcher as well because Martin Maldonado and Brian McCann are free agents this winter.

Just how Gomes fits into that market will become clearer in the days and weeks to come.


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