Winter Meetings Indians Rumors: Recapping Day Three


Wednesday was another big news day at the Winter Meetings. Mark Buehrle signed, Albert Pujols lost a suitor, and Hanley Ramirez wants to traded rather than moved to third base for Jose Reyes—and that’s just for the Miami Marlins.

The Indians’ day wasn’t quite as busy (at least publicly), nor were the rumors we heard about them Wednesday as exciting as Tuesday’s. But there were still plenty of interesting whisperings and bits of news surrounding the Tribe. Here are the highlights of Wednesday’s Cleveland-related rumors:

Something could be imminent. It won’t be a blockbuster deal, but Antonetti told the Plain Dealer‘s Paul Hoynes that he expects to at least make a move of some sort on Thursday. “We have a handful of actual trade proposals out there right now,” he said. “There are a couple that are up to us and are a handful that are up to the other teams.”

On Tuesday, we heard that Antonetti was working on a deal that he said would shock Tribe fans if it came to fruition.

Derrek Lee isn’t interested. We’ve already heard that the Indians were interested in Lee, but apparently the feeling isn’t mutual. Hoynes reports that the 36-year-old first baseman isn’t keen on the idea of signing with Cleveland.

Lee isn’t the fantastic hitter he once was (he hit 46 homers with a 1.080 OPS in 2005), but even in one of the worst seasons of his career he hit .267/.325/.446 (108 wRC+) in 113 games with the Orioles and Pirates. Unless he collapses or Matt LaPorta breaks out, he’d be an upgrade at first base for the Indians in 2012 were he to sign.

Dan Wheeler to Cleveland? Hoynes reports that the team has met with Wheeler’s agent. The Indians are in pretty good shape relievers-wise—”bullpen help is not a high on their priority list,” Hoynes writes—but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t bring in another veteran on a one-year deal.

Wheeler, who turns 34 on Saturday, gave the Red Sox 49.1 innings of relief with a 4.38 ERA (3.33 SIERA) and a 1.11 WHIP. He has a 3.88 career ERA through 12 MLB seasons. Wheeler underperformed his career mark by striking out 7.1 K/9 in 2011, but his 4 percent walk rate was the lowest of his career.

No Rule 5 Drafting. Cleveland won’t add any players via the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday, Antonetti told’s Jordan Bastian. The last time the Indians claimed another team’s player was Hector Ambriz in 2009. Ambriz is the only player they’ve claimed in the MLB phase of the draft since 2002.

More competition. The Denver Post‘s Troy Renck says Michael Cuddyer, in whom the Indians have interest, has been “a top Rockies’ target for months,” while ESPN’s Jayson Stark suggests that the money Colorado saved in trading Huston Street could be used towards Cuddyer.

Meanwhile, Rays manager Joe Maddon said that Tampa Bay has been talking about trading for Reds rookie and potential Tribe target Yonder Alonso. The Indians haven’t been officially connected to Alonso, but that hasn’t stopped speculation about how he’d fit in Cleveland and who he’d command in return.

Extending Asdrubal Cabrera? With free agents signing left and right, Hoynes floats the possibility of the Indians signing Cabrera to a contract extension to buy out his remaining arbitration years and delay his looming free agency (he’s under team control through 2013). Antonetti didn’t tip his hand about whether anything was in the works, but said the team doesn’t have a uniform policy for dealing with extensions: “We evaluate each situation independently and see if it makes sense,” he said.

Hoynes quotes an anonymous agent as saying a Cabrera extension would probably be out of Cleveland’s price range. I agree: Cabrera’s career year has inflated his value (especially considering his second-half fade), as has his overrated defense at shortstop.

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