As the Indians build their roster for the 2015 season, Wahoo’s on First will be breaking down players that the Indians could target into one of three categories – Ugly, Ruggedly Handsome, and Sexy.
An Ugly player (easy to spot warts) is a player that will be signed to a minor league contract that is coming off poor performance or has battled injury. The contract will more than likely be a minor league deal with an invite to spring training but could also include a major league salary if the player makes opening day roster.
The Ruggedly Handsome (multiple teams will be targeting) player is defined as a player that doesn’t have a qualifying offer attached to them, is more than likely going to sign a 1-2 year deal ranging anywhere from $7MM for a 1-year deal to over $20MM for a two year deal.
The Sexy player (top-tier free agent) is a free agent that will command a multi-year deal and may cost a draft pick. These players are considered franchise changers or the last piece of the puzzle depending on your view of where the Indians stand heading into the winter.
Because who wouldn’t want a guy with the nickname “Death to Flying Things” on their team?
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.283 BA, 18 HR, 70 RBI, 16 SB in 2009. That doesn’t sound very ugly, does it? Some might even say that line looks…sexy. That’s how the Seattle Mariners felt when they signedFranklin Gutierrez
to a four year deal worth just over $20 million that winter. Another 25 SB and a Gold Glove came in 2010. Not a bad return for the $2 million they paid him in the first year of his new deal.
Then the honeymoon period wore off. The makeup washed away. They began fighting about how much beer Franklin would drink at night, and spending time with the Mariners side of the family.
Gutierrez played in a total of 173 games the following three years combined. After the team declined to pick up his 2014 option and instead signed him to a one year $1 million dollar deal, the Venezuelan informed the Mariners he’d be unable to play at all. It was then Seattle finally realized that Franklin was no longer sexy. He wasn’t even ruggedly handsome. He had fallen off the Ugly Tree and hit every single branch on the way down.
Free Agent List: Ugly
2014 Salary/Contract Status: Free Agent. Seattle signed him to a four year, $20.2 million dollar deal before the 2010 season. They declined to pick up his fifth year option for 2014, instead allowing him to become a free agent then signing him for one year, $1 million. Considering he hasn’t appeared in more than 92 games in a season since 2010, any potential deal he would sign this offseason would almost certainly be a minor league deal, possibly including a major league salary if he made the Opening Day roster, and plate appearance-based incentives.
Sep 17, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Seattle Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez (21) at bat against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Past Three Seasons: Did not play in 2014. Appeared in 41 games in 2013, 40 in 2012 and 92 in 2011. He has dealt with problems in his throwing arm, legs and hips (due to a genetic disorder that causes swelling in his joints), a concussion and a serious case of irritable bowel syndrome (yes, for real).
Why Cleveland?: He’s a dynamic player when he’s healthy. His 6.0 WAR in 2009 was tenth best in the majors, and he won a Gold Glove in 2010. He’s shown the ability to hit double digits in home runs and stolen bases. With Michael Brantley in left, Michael Bourn in center and presumably David Murphy in right, Gutierrez wouldn’t be counted on as a middle-of-the-order guy every night of the week like he was in Seattle. He would be a rare right-handed bat for the Tribe that could spell Murphy against lefties (hit .335 against LHP in 2009) and hopefully show flashes of gold in center when Bourn inevitably goes down with an injury.
Gutierrez will be 32 by Opening Day 2015. Would giving him at-bats over the likes of Tyler Holt, Zach Walters or another young guy who blossoms in Spring Training be worth it? Maybe. Maybe not. But bringing him in on a minor-league deal and seeing if he has anything left in the tank certainly couldn’t hurt. We do it with pitchers, why not give Guti one last shot?