Cleveland Indians Add Scott Downs, Jeff Manship To Bullpen On Minor League Deals

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The Cleveland Indians have been busy over the holidays, adding left-hander Scott Downs on a minor-league deal on Dec. 20, 2014, and right-hander Jeff Manship, also on a minor-league deal, 10 days later, adding veteran vertical depth to a bullpen and insurance for Tribe manager Terry Francona in case one of his relievers needs to be replaced.

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Downs and Manship will compete in spring training for a spot in Indians manager Terry Francona’s bullpen fun bunch, which figures to see relief ace Cody Allen return, along with right-handers Bryan Shaw, Scott Atchison, and left-handers  Marc Rzepczynski, Kyle Crockett and Nick Hagadone, with Hagadone out of options.

Downs, 38, could be a sneaky-good pickup for Cleveland, if he’s healthy. He’s only two years removed from a fantastic 2013 season, but struggled last season, split between the Chicago White Sox and the Kansas City Royals. With Chicago, White Sox manager Robin Ventura did the LOOGY no favours, using him equally against righties and lefties, and he was released on July 3 to avoid having a $4.25 million vesting option kick in; he signed with Kansas City on July 6. But Royals manager Ned Yost used Downs sparingly, and he only pitched 14.1 innings for KC.

Competing for the final spots will be right-handed swingmen Josh Tomlin and Zach McAllister, who will both likely compete for the fifth starter spot as well, but McAllister seems likely for the bullpen as he is out of options. Tomlin could head down and start at AAA as he has options remaining. Also joining the mix will be C.C Lee, Austin Adams, Bryan Price.

Left-hander Nick Maronde has cleared waivers after being designated for assignment (to clear space for Gavin Floyd) and was outrighted to AAA Columbus. Indians general manager Chris Antonetti told MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian Maronde would continue to be developed as a starter, and the Indians have been encouraged with the adjustments he’s made, so he doesn’t seem likely to figure into a crowded bullpen situation at the moment. Maronde was invited to spring training.

Downs and Manship join Maronde, Price, Tyler Cloyd, Shawn Marcum and Dustin Molleken as non-roster pitching invites, with all but potentially Maronde competing for bullpen spots. Marcum could also head back to AAA Columbus and continue to start in the event of an injury later in the season.

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