The Cleveland Indians are in search of a right-handed bat, and what better place to start looking than the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan. No, it’s not a joke. Former Major Leaguer Andruw Jones wants to make a comeback, and Cleveland may the perfect opportunity for both sides.
It’s been since 2012 that Jones donned an MLB jersey, doing so with the New York Yankees. He batted only .197 that season, with 17 home runs in 94 games. Not a bad idea to flee to Japan with numbers like that.
But now the itch to return to the states to play ball has caught Jones, so why not Cleveland?
Even though there is already depth in the outfield, there are plenty of options to make changes with the current stockpile of players contending. Nick Swisher and Brandon Moss are each coming off surgery. Ryan Raburn would have the Indians in the hook for $2.6 million, but his slash of .195/.263/.333 against lefties hinders his value.
"“I’m prepared to lose playing time, but not to the point where I’m going to get 150 at-bats, Murphy says. If that’s the case, and that’s the best-case scenario for them and for me, I’m open to [ a trade].”"
So with two players coming off injuries, another who doesn’t want to be part of it if his playing time and at-bats take a severe cut, here’s the opportunity to get a steal in Jones.
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He still has his power, as he’s averaged 25 home runs over the past two seasons in Japan. His .232 average in that span doesn’t impress, but he still has the ability to draw walks as he always has. Granted, Jones is good for the strikeout, but his value at the price he will come at could be vital.
He’s willing to join a team as a platoon outfielder or at first base, and clearly as a DH or right-handed bat off the bench. Even at 37, Jones can still get at it in the field, although not like he used to in his early days.
To get Jones on a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training, bonuses only if he makes the Opening Day roster, you could come away with a veteran role player who can still get it done at the plate.
I see it as a wise move for Mark Shapiro to give Jones’ agent Scott Boras a call. You don’t have to be “pursuing” a player to find one. This could be a case of one landing in your lap for a short-term solution to a need.