Cleveland Indians Retain Utility Player Mike Aviles

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The Cleveland Indians decided to exercise a team option on utility player Mike Aviles, one of the few roster decisions the team will need to make this MLB offseason.

The Cleveland Indians exercised a $3.5-million team option on Mike Aviles today, officially retaining the versatile utility player for the 2015 season, and one of the few roster decisions Cleveland needed to make this offseason. The Indians could have elected to pay the 34-year old Aviles a $250,000 buyout, but Cleveland, and especially manager Terry Francona, value his versatility, and Aviles played six different positions in his second season in Cleveland.

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This move was expected, although it wasn’t a certainty that the Tribe would retain Aviles, who had a poor year with the bat in 2014 and hasn’t been a good hitter for most of his career.Aviles hit five home runs and stole 14 bases in various roles for the Indians, but his .273 on base percentage was the lowest in his career, and his defensive numbers took a hit due to the many positions he played in 2014.

He’s primarily a middle infielder, but saw time at third base (in a platoon with Lonnie Chisenhall), second base (due to an injury to Jason Kipnis) shortstop (mostly after Asdrubal Cabrera was traded), and left field (after Michael Brantley shifted to center to replace the injured Michael Bourn).

Aviles also appeared in games in right and center field, and has emerged as one of Francona’s more reliable substitutions. The team also values his leadership

(yup, #veteranpresents)

and there’s some sense in trying to fill multiple bench spots with one Mike Aviles. He’s likely on the decline, but the Indians were also probably unlikely to pick up similar versatility in the free agent market at a lower cost (or at least without making some gambles). Sure, the money could have likely gone elsewhere, but I’m inclined to let Francona have this one simply because he’s a one-man bench.

Aviles shared this statement with MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian after the news was announced:

Aviles was

acquired

along with catcher Yan Gomes in one of GM Chris Antontetti’s greatest heists, in exchange for reliever Esmil Rogers. He had his first career walk-off hit this season with the Indians in May:

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