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Indians Officially Sign Branyan

February 24, 2010
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The Indians announced today that they have officially signed free agent first baseman Russell Branyan. He is signed to a one year $2 million contract which includes up to $1 million in incentives, and it also includes a mutual option for 2011 for $5 million.  To make room on the 40-man roster for Branyan, infielder Chris Gimenez was outrighted to Triple-A Columbus. Also, the Indians purchased the contract of right-handed pitcher Anthony Reyes as they added him to the 40-man roster and then immediately placed him on the 60-day disabled list.

In an interesting turn of events, the Indians have said that Branyan will actually be the regular first baseman, though Matt LaPorta will still get a lot of time at first base, likely starting there when a left-hander is on the mound. LaPorta is expected to see a lot more time in left field this year than originally anticipated, which is a bit unexpected as it was felt he would primarily play first base this year. It appears that the Indians are simply keeping their options open with him at first base and left field, and also slowly transitioning him to first base rather than just throw him in there full time.

LaPorta is expected to play everyday, and outfielder Michael Brantley is also expected to be on the opening day roster as well playing everyday. From the sounds of it, we may have somewhat of a moving chairs setup with the lineup again this year. And, considering that Branyan is expected to be the regular at first base and that LaPorta and Brantley are also expected to be regulars, it looks like the Indians may in fact not have a 4th outfielder on the roster after all. With Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo entrenched in center and right field, it appears that LaPorta and Brantley would be the two other outfielders and because of his versatility Brantley could seemingly play everyday as the fourth outfielder.

We'll see how things shake out, but with the Branyan signing it is an interesting development to watch this spring with how the playing time will be doled out this coming season.

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