Indians acquire Brewer from Diamondbacks
According to a report in the Arizona Republic, the Indians and Diamondbacks have agreed to a trade where the Diamondbacks are sending right-handed pitcher Charles Brewer to the Indians for cash.
Brewer, 26, was designated for assignment on Thursday so the Diamondbacks had 10 days to trade, release or outright him to the minors. He had yet to be put on waivers while the Diamondbacks searched for possible trade fits and the Indians apparently were interested.
Last season the 6-feet-3 205-pound pitcher went 11-12 with a 4.46 ERA in 29 starts between Double-A Mobile (7 starts) and Triple-A Reno (22 starts). In 169.2 innings he allowed 182 hits, 13 homers, 48 walks and had 138 strikeouts. In his six year minor league career he owns a 50-42 record with a 4.09 ERA in 137 appearances (124 starts) and in 721.0 innings has a 2.4 BB/9 and 7.8 K/9. He has limited Major League experience appearing in four games in 2013 throwing a total of 6.0 innings and allowing 8 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 2 walks and 5 strikeouts.
Brewer really has no shot to make the Indians roster out of spring training, but he represents what the Indians have stated they wanted to do this offseason which is add some starting pitching depth. Starting pitching depth comes in the way of inexpensive moves with some roster flexibility and that have some potential to help at the Major League level. Brewer is no rotation savior, but he becomes a depth option for the team as the eighth or ninth option behind Zach McAllister, Josh Tomlin and either ahead or behind Nick Maronde.
Currently, McAllister is slated to be the Indians sixth starter. If no one in the current five-man rotation of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer and T.J. House are injured in spring training, then McAllister will open the 2015 season as the Indians long man out of the bullpen because he is out of options. He would be in a similar situation and have the same role as Carrasco last season.
Tomlin is the only other true starting option for the Indians at the Major League level on the 40-man roster, but he will open the season at Triple-A Columbus as immediate starting depth. He has options left and with McAllister in Cleveland there is no room to carry him as a long man. The Indians are working to transition Maronde back into a starter and believe he could be a depth option for them next year and will open the season in Columbus.
Outside of those three pitchers the Indians have no other options on the 40-man roster to call upon if a need arises in the rotation. They did roster Cody Anderson and Ryan Merritt on Thursday and both are starting pitching prospects for the Indians, but neither is expected to pitch in Cleveland next year except maybe very late in the season if they really progress and a need arises.
This is where the pickup of Brewer comes in as a depth starting option for them they can stash in Triple-A next season. He has one option remaining, will cost a little over $100,000 to have on hand in Triple-A all year and has some potential to help in the big leagues. That is the very definition of starting depth.
Brewer is not going to be a rotation stalwart for the Indians for the next half decade, but could be an interesting fill-in along the lines of Josh Tomlin, Aaron Laffey and others before them. He has a good pitcher's body with a solid 89-92 MPH fastball that he commands well and complements it with an average curveball and mixes in a slider and changeup. He lacks a put away pitch but commands all of his pitches well and is a back of the rotation starter type.
The Indians 40-man roster is currently full at 40 players so it will be interesting to see who the Indians designate for assignment to clear space. The obvious top possibility is lefty Scott Barnes as he is out of options and has no chance to make the Indians opening day roster next spring so will have to be DFAed at some point between now and the end of spring training anyway. Chances are good that he will clear waivers if DFAed and if so he would remain property of the Indians for 2015.
If Barnes is not DFAed, then the aforementioned Maronde would probably be the next option. He has struggled with inconsistency since joining the Indians and did not have a very good Arizona Fall League showing. The other option would be right-handed reliever Bryan Price. If either Maronde or Price are DFAed and clear waivers, they would remain property of the Indians for the 2015 season as well.
An official announcement should come from the Indians soon on the Brewer acquisition and who has been removed from the roster.
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I had similar thoughts, re: moving on from Tomlin. First, I don't see it happening...Tomlin is an experienced major league arm. Second, Tomlin will "only" cost $1.7M according to projections (mlbtraderumors.com). Third, they know what they are getting...and have done similar with Kevin Slowey a few yrs back.
Now why I think it's possible...First, the cost, while relatively inexpensive it's still about $1.2M more for Tomlin than say, Brewer, Cloyd, Maronde. Second, in all likelihood they would get something similar in terms of results. Third, with teams always in search of SP options, Tomlin might intrigue a team enough to overpay or at least request Tomlin as part of a trade package.
Overall, my impression of the Brewer deal is... the Indians wanted depth, Brewer provides that. He has an option yr, and buys time for Anderson, Merritt, Roberts, Colon, Morimando, Plutko, Baker, Lugo, Brown, Pannone, Shane and others to develop at an adequate level comparable to their readiness.