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Storylines: Indians sign Kottaras, finalize roster

Storylines: Indians sign Kottaras, finalize roster
George Kottaras owns a career .749 OPS against right-handed pitching in his career. (Photo: AP)
March 31, 2014
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In this MLB News and Notes segment, I will be giving occasional reports on the latest news and rumors throughout the MLB. I also will try to tweet news and rumors as I see them, so feel free to follow me on Twitter: @ajnicholsIBI.

Here are the stories from Sunday, March 30th.

Tribe News

  • Catcher George Kottaras agreed to sign a Minor League deal with the Indians. Despite not being in the immediate plans for Cleveland's 25-man roster, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that Cleveland is expected to call upon Kottaras in the near future to fill a back-up catcher role. With Yan Gomes starting behind the plate and incumbent catcher Carlos Santana moving to third base while still being the back-up catcher, Kottaras could be called up to allow Santana to focus solely on third.
  • The Tribe opens up their 2014 season on Monday night against the Oakland A's. First pitch is scheduled for 10:05 P.M. ET, and Cleveland will send Justin Masterson to the mound to face off against young Oakland starter Sonny Gray.

Others News and Notes

  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote that Jon Lester "better be willing" to accept less from the Red Sox than the six-year, $144 million offer the Tigers made to Max Scherzer. Cafardo went on to say that the negotiations between Boston and Lester will be a true test of how much the Red Sox trust and believe in their top pitching prospects.
  • Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told MLB Network Radio that he had the financial go-ahead to sign both Max Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera to long-term extensions. Dombrowski said that both contract discussions were going on at the same time.
  • Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times tweeted that the White Sox have traded pitching prospectOmar Poveda to the Nationals for cash considerations.

User Comments

Joe Chengery
April 1, 2014 - 3:55 AM EDT
I think it's a bit telling that Chisenhall wasn't in the lineup to face the right-hander Gray (the local Fox affiliate, had Chisenhall as the DH during their sports segment at 6 PM). You can bet that Chisenhall will not be in the lineup to face Kazmir, so at best, he might see action against Chavez, and could also see action against Pelfrey (MIN's scheduled starter for Friday), but then he could be sent to Columbus after that, as Giambi is eligible and expected to be back on Sat, April 5.
March 31, 2014 - 11:35 AM EDT
Yeah...sadly does seem like Chiz is in trouble. Telling when the Tribe moved Santana to 3B and not the OF (where he played more in his pro career) when they had a hole in RF. Plugged that with Murphy. Easily could have looked for a 3B platoon option for Chiz (Baker? Uribe?) and stuck Santana in RF and Raburn DH (let Raburn DH some and Santana DH some). Instead they moved their best hitter to the Chiz's spot...this after a very good September (albeit used as a platoon that month).

Still hoping Chiz gets another (real) shot at a big league job. Has power and can hit RHP (something the Tribe struggled with last season). If optioned down would definitely like to see him get looks in RF and 1B. Still not sold on Bourn long-term and would be nice to have another OF option to plug in there.
March 31, 2014 - 10:38 AM EDT
Have to believe Kottaras will be up rather quickly, if not before they come home for Opening Day. That may have been part of the stipulation when he signed. We will see. But if he is coming up to Cleveland then it to me basically spells it out how the Indians believe Santana can be their everyday catcher. They did not address the backup catcher before this, because as I said, they first wanted to see how things went this spring for Santana. They have a better idea now.....though we will get a much better idea over the next few months when the games count and he is playing everyday.

As for Chisenhall, he's in trouble. Might have to learn to play some 1B and OF to add some versatility. But I have to believe he is optioned out in the next few days IF they are bringing up Kottaras right away. Though it is possible that Kottaras is simply minor league depth and stays at Columbus and is only called up if Santana or Gomes get hurt.
March 31, 2014 - 9:54 AM EDT
Little surprised on Guilmet being DFAed over Barnes though definitely not a shock. Am happy that Barnes made the cut here though as still think he's got big league talent in that arm. May be the guy that eventually goes though for Crockett...
March 31, 2014 - 9:53 AM EDT
Also...while you can definitely make a case Kottaras is a below average defensive catcher...he has been/is a lot better than Santana. Again, you could make a case that Santana was the worst defensive catcher in baseball the last two years (bottom 5-10 easily). Kottaras may be bad but compared to Santana, he'd be an improvement.
March 31, 2014 - 9:47 AM EDT

His batting average is terrible but his OBP is .324, which isn't great but consider this...that's only about 10 points lower than Bourn's career mark and only 6 points lower than Brantley's. And over the last two seasons Kottaras's OBP has been .351 and .349 as a part-time catcher. Knows how to get on base. Sure some of that may have been the benefit of where he hit but don't think his walk rate has been as good as it is simply because of where he hits in the lineup.

His career OPS against RHP is also closer to .750. Yes I know not great but better than Gomes. Not suggesting you platoon them but if you're gonna pick days to give Gomes rest...I'd choose some days when a RHP was on the mound (Gomes has to be in there everyday vs LHP if healthy). Even if Gomes is in there vs RHP...Kottaras is a guy you could DH at times. Also not a bad PH option late in the game.

Worth noting...his wRC+ the last three seasons has been 109, 113, 102...he has been an above average hitter lately.
March 31, 2014 - 9:22 AM EDT
I agree, the Kottaras signing is a solid one, and also basically seals Lonnie's fate. This signing tells me Santana is no longer catching.

Kottaras is a lefty bat, with a career platoon split of nearly 100 points of OPS. .750 vs. RHP and .650 vs. LHP. That makes him the ideal caddy to the right-handed hitting Gomes.

This allows the Tribe to try Santana at 3B for a month or more, and really find out if he can play there. Chisenhall will be at AAA. If Santana is a disaster at the hot corner, and can't handle the position, they can bring Chiz back, move Santana back to being the backup C and DH, and DFA Kottaras.

It's a good move, and I completely understand it, but I do feel for Lonnie. I still think it's too early to give up on him, but clearly the Indians brass don't see him being an everyday player on this team. That's a shame.
March 31, 2014 - 1:11 AM EDT
Can't make the Cubs? All the catchers in camp were that bad??
March 31, 2014 - 12:46 AM EDT
I might be in the minority here, but I really don't like the Kottaras signing. He's a below average catcher behind the dish and a career average of .214. Yes, he has a lifetime OPS of .730, but I really don't see much upside.
March 31, 2014 - 12:27 AM EDT
Yes he made the call. Should get kudos!!!
Joe Chengery
March 31, 2014 - 12:20 AM EDT
Smart call by the Indians and those here (Hermie, I think, you were among them) who thought Kottaras would be a good pick-up and one the Indians should make- well-done!

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