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2011 Indians 40-man review: Who do they remove?

October 20, 2011
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Trevor Crowe and Luis Valbuena may not
survive on the 40-man roster. (Photo: AP)
With the World Series underway the official start of the 2011-2012 offseason is quickly drawing near. For those teams whose season already ended weeks ago they are making final preparations for the November 18th roster date which is four weeks away.

This is a key date in the offseason as teams set their 40-man rosters for the upcoming season by making decisions on which players to keep, which players to remove, and which young players to add in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft in December. The Indians already made two decisions on Tuesday when they outrighted outfielder Jerad Head and right-handed pitcher Mitch Talbot off the 40-man roster.

Most of the additions to the 40-man roster are who organizations view as their best young talent in the minors that is up for roster protection from the Rule 5 Draft.  The rest of the additions come from signings through free agency with a few waiver claims or trades potentially sprinkled in.  Teams conduct several meetings from the final month of the season until the roster deadline date as they work to whittle down the roster and finalize it before the deadline.  Many decisions on who to remove and who to add from the roster are obvious, but other decisions are not so cut and dry.

Whether obvious or not, teams will wait until right around the deadline date to officially make roster additions from the minors in order to let things play out.  Teams rarely make roster decisions on who to add well in advance of the deadline since there is no rush to do so and it could be a decision that results in disaster. What if the player being rostered is playing winter ball then goes out the next day and gets seriously hurt? This is a situation the team wants to avoid, and is why most of these decisions typically always go down to the last minute.

Occasionally, a team will open up a roster spot by trading a player already on the 40-man roster in exchange for a non-roster player that is not required to be protected.  Even more rare are trades at this time of the year involving Rule 5 eligible players that teams may not have room on their roster to protect.  This is mostly because other teams are in the same boat, and also because teams have little interest to acquire a player that if they are even interested in they can just go out and try to pick them up in the Rule 5 Draft for little cost.

When it comes to filling out the 40-man roster at this time of the year, it all comes down to a combination of need and talent.  For a young team like the Indians that expects to contend next season and already has so many young players on the roster there is not as much focus on adding more youth to the roster this offseason as in previous years.

For the Indians most of the needed additions to the roster from their farm system this offseason happened over the course of this past season when they rostered such players as third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, second baseman Jason Kipnis, right-handed reliever Zach Putnam and others. While there are still maybe two or three players from the farm system they will add to the roster, the additions the Indians make this offseason will likely mostly be Major League players via free agency or trade.

With all this in mind, let's take a look at what decisions the Indians may make in creating room on the 40-man roster prior to the November 18th roster deadline.  In the next few weeks I will post a follow up to this piece and take an in depth look at what players from their farm system the Indians will consider adding to the 40-man roster.

Roster Breakdown

Currently the Indians have 42 players on the 40-man roster, four of which are on the 60-day disabled list. There is no disabled list in the offseason, so by the November 18th roster deadline the Indians will need to put all players on the 60-day disabled list back onto the active 40-man roster. These four players are right-handed pitcher Carlos Carrasco, right-handed pitcher Josh Tomlin, outfielder Michael Brantley, and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.

Shortly after the World Series players eligible for free agency will officially be removed from the roster. The Indians have three players eligible for free agency: outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, designated hitter Jim Thome, and right-handed pitcher Chad Durbin. None of these players are expected to be resigned in advance of the start of free agency, so even with the activation of the 60-day disabled list players back on to the 40-man roster the removal of the three pending free agents technically puts the Indians roster at 39 players right now.

Obviously one open spot on the 40-man roster is not enough for the Indians to make needed and expected acquisitions via free agency and trade or to add some of their young players from the minors, so they still need to remove a few players from the roster.

Who Stays, Who Goes

Looking at the 39 players on the Indians

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