Indians announce Matsuzaka, Capps won't make team
Matsuzaka and Capps will consider offer to go to minors
Before people even had a chance to recover from their St. Patrick's Day hangovers, the Indians were hard at work once again trimming down the roster as Opening Day looms now just two weeks away. As the team prepared to take on the Brewers Monday at Goodyear Ballpark, numerous players were either optioned to a minor league affiliate or simply reassigned to minor league camp. Additionally, several players were informed that they would not break camp with the major league squad.
First off, the Tribe optioned infielder Juan Diaz to Triple-A Columbus. Diaz has served as the primary shortstop for much of spring training as starting shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was playing in the World Baseball Classic representing his native Venezuala in the tournament. Now with Team Venezuala eliminated and Cabrera back with the Tribe, Diaz has no role to fill with the big league camp as he is out of the running for a bench spot. Diaz did have an impressive spring campaign at the plate hitting .267 with a homer and six RBI's.
The Indians also reassigned relief pitchers Matt Langwell and Preton Guilmet to minor league camp. Both turned some heads in Cactus League play this spring as Guilmet didn't allow a run in five appearances while Langwell only allowed two in seven appearances. Both are likely to start in Triple-A and provide additional bullpen depth for the Tribe this season.
The Tribe also announced that they had reassigned outfielder Cedric Hunter and right-hander Joe Martinez to minor league camp. Neither impressed this spring with Martinez racking up a 7.71 ERA in six appearances while Hunter only managed to hit .194 in 19 games with the Indians. Both were signed to minor-league deals this offseason with spring training invites.
The bigger story out of Indians camp today was that starting rotation candidate Daisuke Matsuzaka and bullpen hopeful Matt Capps being informed that they would not start the regular season with the major league club. However, both pitchers have been given the option to start the season in Columbus, where they would receive a $100,000 bonus and be given an out-clause for June 1st where if they did not get called up to the majors, they could be given their release from the organization to become free agents.
It's been reported by MLB.com's Jordan Bastian among others that Matsuzaka may be willing to accept a minor league assignment. Capps, on the other hand, appears to be weighing all his options before making a decision. This spring, both pitchers had decent showings with each appearing in four games. Matsuzaka had a 2.25 ERA while Capps had a 4.50 ERA. Both Capps and Matsuzaka were signed to minor league deals this offseason, but had hopes of breaking camp with the big league squad. Matsuzaka was a candidate to become the fifth starter in the Indians' rotation while Capps was looking to be a veteran middle-to-late inning reliever to help lead some of the younger arms in the bullpen.
In addition to Matsuzaka and Capps, the Tribe also informed catchers Omir Santos and Brian Jeroloman as well as infielder Luis Hernandez and outfielder Matt Carson that they would not break camp with the team. Whether they've also been offered the opportunity to stay with the organization in the minors is not yet known, but if not, they will be released and become free agents. All players above were non-roster invitees.
Remaining Unfinished Business:
- Fans are finally starting to see the Indians' new-look roster start to take shape. Most of the vacant positions are either decided or close to being decided:
- The starting lineup appears to be entirely filled with all the positions having already long been decided. All that remains is to decide the opening day batting order.
- The fifth spot in the starting rotation is now a four-man race with left-hander Scott Kazmir leading the pack and Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber riding his coattails.
- There are two spots in the bullpen that remain unclaimed. Candidates include Nick Hagadone, Matt Albersand David Huff hoping to secure one of them.
- The bench appears to be decided with Lou Marson set as the backup catcher, Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn as super-sub utility players and veteran Jason Giambi filling out the role as veteran leader and backup DH and first baseman.
Two more weeks, Tribe fans!
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.
Capps was a long shot to make the bullpen and obviously it didn't work out. I think he'll be back either with the Indians or some other team eventually, though.
I'd like it if Carson sticks around. Even if he is just a four-A player, he'd provide some veteran leadership for the up and coming outfield prospects in Columbus.