As speculated, the Cleveland Indians have optioned outfielder Tyler Naquin to Triple-A Columbus today. The move creates a 25-man roster spot for today’s starting pitcher, Mike Clevinger, who was officially recalled today as well.
Many (okay, most) fans were either expecting or hoping that it would be utility man Michael Martinez sent out to make room for Clevinger today, but Naquin has seemed like the likely candidate for a few days now. Indians beat writer Paul Hoynes even suggested that Naquin could have been set down yesterday for Lonnie Chisenhall in lieu of Cody Anderson, had the latter pitched better in his Monday start.
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Naquin was batting .317 with the Indians including a .751 OPS in 27 games with the big league club. However, he walked just twice compared to 21 strikeouts. He also struggled at times defensively in centerfield, most notably on balls hit over his head towards the outfield wall. Defensive metrics shouldn’t be taken as gospel, especially in samples this small, but his -8 DRS (defensive runs saved) was one of the worst for an outfielder in all of baseball.
With Naquin headed to Triple-A Columbus, it would appear that Jose Ramirez will now be in line to play most days in the outfield, likely in left field while Michael Brantley remains on the disabled list. This also means Rajai Davis will likely get the bulk of the playing time in centerfield although Chisenhall, Ramirez, and possibly even Martinez could get some time there.
In the meantime, Naquin will look to get back to playing every day with the Columbus Clippers. He could benefit from more regular playing time probably as he was merely a platoon player in Cleveland (and not a strict one either). Naquin will almost certainly be back in Cleveland at some point this season, he definitely did some good things, especially with the bat.