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Tribe Happenings: Reynolds signing has been on the Mark

Tribe Happenings: Reynolds signing has been on the Mark
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Some news, notes, and thoughts from my Indians notebook…

Bam-Bam Reynolds is making his Mark

One of the early big stories of the season for the Indians has been the superb play of designated hitter Mark Reynolds.

Through Saturday’s game in Detroit he is hitting .284 with 11 homers, 31 RBI and .988 OPS, and also has a 16:36 walk to strikeout ratio. He is on pace to hit 52 homers and drive in 148 runs, and also walk 76 times and strikeout 172 times.

So far Reynolds has been as advertised and then some. He draws a good amount of walks, he strikes out a lot, and he has tremendous power. But what has been surprising to date is the quality of his at bats and how much of a run producer and clutch player he has been. Now, it has only been 33 games for him, so things can change at a moment’s notice, but he looks like he is on the verge of a big rebound this season.

The Indians inked Reynolds to a one year $6 million deal in the offseason. They craved a bat that could hit for power from the right side, and he looked like an ideal fit. But he also came with warts because of his propensity to strikeout a lot and he was coming off a subpar season in 2012 with the Baltimore Orioles when he hit .221 with 23 homers, 69 RBI, and .764 OPS.

But Reynolds struggled with injuries the first half of last season and into the second half where through August 5th he was hitting just .203 with 8 homers, 32 RBI and .681 OPS in 83 games. But from that point on through the end of the season he hit .247 with 15 homers, 37 RBI and .884 OPS in 52 games.

Reynolds looked healthy and like the Reynolds of old the last two months of last season which leads credence to the belief that a lot of what he has done this season is for real. It is not coming out of nowhere as he was just as hot at the end of last season.  He probably won’t keep up with the RBI pace he is on, but the power numbers will probably continue so long as he remains healthy.

Reynolds really does look like he is on the verge of another big season like he had in 2009 with the Arizona Diamondbacks when he hit .260 with 44 homers, 102 RBI and .892 OPS. If the Indians get anything remotely close to that from him by the time the dust settles on this season, then what a big pickup he will have been for the team and great signing made by the front office.

Reynolds has added a dimension to the lineup the Indians simply have not had since Juan Gonzalez departed after the 2001 season and Manny Ramirez departed the year before him. Since Gonzo left the wigwam the Indians have not had a big power threat from the right side and it has been an area of need over the years, but at least for this season the Indians appear to have found it.

The season is still young, but with Reynolds only signed through this season, there are already concerns about his future with the Indians beyond this season and cries for the Indians to extend him right now.

First off, I know everyone wants to extend Reynolds, but look, it works both ways. While the Indians would love to resign him, they also know they would have to seriously overpay to get him to agree to a deal right now. He knows he is in for a big payday this offseason if he keeps this up, so why should he take less money to sign an extension right now?

At this point, for Reynolds to forego the opportunity to enter the market this offseason where teams crave right-handed power the Indians would probably have to give him at least a four year deal and $14-$15 million a year to get him to bite. That means you would be looking at a deal for something around four years and $55-60 million.

Before you laugh that off, remember, what is the incentive for him to sign a three year $30-35 million deal right now? That’s signing at the Indians’ price right now, and is underpaying him prior to free agency. Remember, Kevin Youkilis got one year and $12 million deal last offseason. Reynolds is worth as much or more per year as Youkilis.

Also, Adam Dunn got four years and $56 million two years ago from the White Sox. I actually think the Dunn contract is pretty close to what Reynolds may ultimately end up with if he keeps up this place for most of the rest of the season.  Obviously he is not as accomplished as Dunn was as a free agent, but he is also a little younger, can play better defense, has some versatility, and teams covet right-handed power and will overpay for it.

Right now I'm just not ready to make any kind of commitment to Reynolds past this season based on 33 games. We need more data and games. If he is worth keeping, then the Indians can simply extend him the qualifying offer in the offseason which puts the 1st round pick tag on him and probably could scare him into a fair deal that both he and the Indians like.

As for the lack of a club option, I am almost certain the Indians asked to include one but Reynolds and his agent declined to include it because they wanted him to get a chance to come back this season with a big year and re-enter the free agent market a year later to score big on a deal. Club options often favor the teams, so there is no doubt the Indians likely asked to include one but were denied.

But bottom line, wow, what a signing to date Reynolds has been for the Indians. For as much press the Indians received for signing Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn to big deals this offseason, the Reynolds signing may end up as the most impactful signing that they made.

What about Myers?

Right-handed pitcher Brett Myers is making progress in his return from his right elbow strain that placed him on the 15-day disabled list on April 20th. He threw off a mound in a bullpen session on Saturday and he is scheduled to throw off a mound again on Tuesday or Wednesday in Philadelphia.

After that the Indians will reassess Myers’ situation. If he looks good to go, he could go on a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus and be there for up to 30 days to build himself back up and be ready as a Major League option. Of course, even if he is fine, they may not immediately send him out on a rehab assignment as he may still need to throw a few more bullpens before he is sent out on one.

If there are no setbacks it looks like Myers could return by the end of the month or in early June.  With him set to possibly return in a few weeks what happens when he returns?

Right now right-handers Justin Masterson and Zach McAllister are pitching at an All Star level and have been the workhorses in the rotation. Lefty Scott Kazmir and righty Ubaldo Jimenez have shaken off some early rust and have really settled in over their last few starts. Righty Corey Kluber was very good up until his outing against the Tigers on Friday night. On top of that, righty Carlos Carrasco is in Triple-A Columbus and ready and waiting for an opportunity and there is also righty Trevor Bauer in the mix as well.

Suddenly, the Indians starting pitching situation looks much better than it did just two weeks ago when Myers went down with an injury, Carrasco had an injury scare, righty Diasuke Matsuzaka went on the disabled list in Columbus with an abdominal strain, and Jimenez and Kazmir were struggling in the rotation.

Beyond maybe Justin Masterson, the Indians still have a lot of question marks in the rotation, so the rotation is still a wildcard and something that is hard for the Indians to rely on night in and night out. But if they keep pitching like this over the next few weeks, when Myers returns the Indians will have to make a tough decision to get him back into the rotation.

For as solid as Kluber has been to date, he is still viewed as a depth starter and no matter how well he is pitching he will probably be sent out to Columbus if Myers is considered ready to go. The Indians are not about to banish Myers to the bullpen (yet) nor have him lose his spot in the rotation due to injury. They paid him $7 million this season to start and there is a clubhouse dynamic they have to consider where a starter should not lose their job because of injury.

But if and when Myers returns, he should be on a very short leash. In four games for the Indians this season he is 0-3 with an 8.02 ERA and has allowed 10 homers in 21.1 innings pitched. Those numbers may be a byproduct of his elbow issues which eventually sidelined him, so he will get a chance to prove otherwise. But if the struggles continue three or four starts in his return to the rotation, he could be quickly replaced by the likes of Carrasco, Kluber or Bauer and find himself in the bullpen.

But that is getting ahead of things a little too much. Right now, the Indians have Myers on the comeback trail, he looks to be progressing well, and the current five-man rotation is pitching well. If Myers comes back healthy and the other seven starting pitching options they have are all healthy and pitching well, then for as tough as a decision they may have to make, it is a good problem to have.

Remember us?

Here is a quick snapshot of how all of the former Indians that were on the roster last season are doing for other clubs this season:

Casey Kotchman (1B – Marlins): 2 games, 0-for-5
Jack Hannahan (INF – Reds): 22 games, .267 AVG (8-for-30), 0 HR, 4 RBI, .686 OPS
Shelley Duncan (OF – Rays): 20 games, .182 AVG (10-for-55), 2 HR, 6 RBI, .606 OPS
Shin-Soo Choo (OF – Reds): 35 games, .318 AVG (42-for-132), 28 R, 7 HR, 15 RBI, 1.018 OPS
Travis Hafner (DH – Yankees): 29 games, .271 AVG (23-for-85), 6 HR, 18 RBI, .939 OPS
Jose Lopez (INF - Japan): 36 games, .309 AVG (43-for-139), 9 HR, 17 RBI, .906 OPS
Jason Donald (INF – AAA Louisville): 16 games, .238 AVG (15-for-63), 1 HR, 5 RBI, .638 OPS
Brent Lillibridge (INF – Cubs): 9 games, .042 AVG (1-for-24), 0 HR, 2 RBI, .083 OPS
Aaron Cunningham (OF – AAA Round Rock): 29 games, .290 AVG (31-for-107), 2 HR, 15 RBI, .805 OPS
Russ Canzler (OF – AAA Norfolk): 33 games, .275 AVG (33-for-120), 5 HR, 21 RBI, .864 OPS
Vinny Rottino (OF – Japan): 7 games, .316 AVG (6-for-19), 1 HR, 1 RBI, .907 OPS
Thomas Neal (OF – AAA Scranton/WB): 18 games, .339 AVG (21-for-62), 0 HR, 14 RBI, .818 OPS
Luke Carlin (C – AAA Salt Lake): 20 games, .190 AVG (8-for-72), 0 HR, 2 RBI, .518 OPS
Derek Lowe (RHP – Rangers): 7 G, 1-0, 5.56 ERA, 11.1 IP, 11 H, 2 HR, 1.6 BB/9, 5.6 K/9
Jeanmar Gomez (RHP – Pirates): 7 G, 2-0, 2.38 ERA, 22.2 IP, 18 H, 3 HR, 4.4 BB/9, 6.0 K/9
Tony Sipp (LHP – D’Backs): 16 games, 2-1, 2.53 ERA, 10.2 IP, 8 H, 0 HR, 4.2 BB/9, 9.3 K/9
Esmil Rogers (RHP – Blue Jays): 17 games, 1-2, 5.50 ERA, 18.0 IP, 22 H, 1 HR, 3.0 BB/9, 4.5 K/9
Jeremy Accardo (RHP – AAA Syracuse): 2 G, 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 HR, 0.0 BB/9, 0.0 K/9
Jairo Asencio (RHP – AAA Norfolk): 13 games, 0-0, 1.93 ERA, 14.0 IP, 8 H, 1 HR, 0.0 BB/9, 8.4 K/9
Roberto Hernandez (RHP – Rays): 6 games, 1-4, 4.66 ERA, 36.2 IP, 35 H, 6 HR, 2.7 BB/9, 9.1 K/9
Dan Wheeler (RHP – AAA Omaha): 11 games, 1-3, 9.00 ERA, 15.0 IP, 28 H, 3 HR, 3.0 BB/9, 6.0 K/9
Rafael Perez (LHP – AAA Rochester): 2 games, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 HR, 0.0 BB/9, 4.5 K/9
Scott Maine (LHP – AAA New Orleans): 10 games, 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 7.0 IP, 7 H, 0 HR, 15.4 BB/9, 9.0 K/9

In addition to those listed, outfielder Johnny Damon and left-hander Chris Seddon are out of affiliated baseball (Seddon is playing in Korea).

So, do you miss anyone? Choo is having a fantastic season in his free agent year and living up to my preseason prediction of a guy on the verge of a $100 million or more contract. Hafner is having a good showing for the Yankees as well. And Hernandez appears to have found his strike throwing ability and is getting  more swing and miss with the Rays. But outside of that, the Indians appear wise in their decisions to move on from the rest of the players listed.

Parting shots

On Monday the Indians placed right-handed setup man Vinnie Pestano on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 1st with right elbow tendonitis. The Indians are taking a very precautionary route with him, and he is slated to resume his throwing program on Sunday. He is eligible to come off the disabled list on May 16th and barring a setback in his throwing program should be activated on that date. … The Indians activated outfielder Michael Bourn from the 15-day disabled list on Friday. He had been out since April 17th with a laceration on his right index finger which required stitches. … Outfielder Ezequiel Carrera was designated for assignment by the Indians last Sunday, cleared waivers, and was outrighted to Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday. He is property of the Indians for the remainder of the season and will serve as immediate outfield depth. … Right-hander Trevor Bauer will start game two of the doubleheader on Monday against the Yankees. Barring an injury to the starting rotation the next few days, it will be a one and done start as he will be optioned back to Columbus after the game.

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

User Comments

May 13, 2013 - 10:25 AM EDT
Matt Capps is not an option. Right now, if the Indians needed a bullpen option from the minors, they probably have at least 3-4 others they would first consider. His opt out is on June 1, and I would think he elects to leave and take his chances elsewhere.....provided he is healthy of course.

There is no incentive for Reynolds, or any player for that matter, to lock in a deal now for way under market value just because he had a poor first half last season. He's building a good resume with his strong finish last season, good season this year, and his history of past success with several 30+ homer seasons where he is heading for a large payday this offseason. There is absolutely no way 3/30 or 3/36 signs him right now. If it would, the Indians would jump all over me on that one.;) He is likely going to get right around what Swisher got when it is all said and done. He's not as well rounded as Swisher, but he's got the much bigger impact bat with much more power....and as I said, teams will overpay for legit right-handed power. Bottom line, I expect the Indians and Reynolds to let the season play out and then they will talk after the season.....and if no deal can be reached the Indians can give him the qualifying offer which then puts the pressure on Reynolds to make a deal. I'm not too worried at the moment of losing him.

As for Chisenhall, he gets until mid-June if you ask me, and if he is still struggling, then he will be replaced on the roster. The Indians are blessed with other third base options with Reynolds and Aviles, so they can actually keep Chisenhall up and continue to play him while he adjusts to the big leagues and hope things click for him....but eventually there will be a breaking point.
May 12, 2013 - 5:17 PM EDT
Wow on Perez. Never heard a beat writer say that. Don't know how he does it with an avg fastball and no great out pitch. He does put a scare in you each game.
May 12, 2013 - 5:00 PM EDT
The best thing about these two wins is they didn't play particularly well, with the bullpen near-meltdown yesterday and Swisher's error, and then another unearned run today and the double plays they hit into. Guess it only takes your b-game to roll the Tigers over in Detroit. It was nice to see a normal, non-scary save as well. Wonder what's up with Perez. I actually think he and Myers are the two worst pitchers on the 40-man roster, other than maybe Albers. Could've cut $14 million from their payroll and fielded a ... better? ... team.
May 12, 2013 - 4:47 PM EDT
I know its may, but huge series win. Beat verlander and big comeback win today.

Tied for first.

Go tribe.
May 12, 2013 - 4:34 PM EDT
Seth, agree on Bauer and carrasco. Agree on myers. And what did he do to earn 7 mil?

Sorry, Lonnie will head south on 77 then 71.
May 12, 2013 - 3:57 PM EDT
If Myers isn't coming back soon I think they should move on from Kluber and get Carrasco back up permanently. Kluber's got some good stuff but he's so inconsistent. He's a good guy to have around because he doesn't suck, and he could probably be a good reliever where some of that inconsistency would be masked better. With Bauer and Carrasco having done about as much as they can to develop in AAA, it doesn't make sense to keep them down. Myers signing was such a waste.
May 12, 2013 - 3:01 PM EDT
What's the best guess when Lonnie heads down 77 to Columbus?
May 12, 2013 - 1:47 PM EDT
I think the Tribe should approach Reynolds about an extension in June. But really they are in a no lose spot with him they could trade him come summer if they are out of contention, they could play through the season and offer him the 1 yr / $13 M deal netting an extra pick (and the pool money - which is holds high value, IMO). Personally, Id hope they can extend Reynolds for 2/3 yrs with an option, but it has to come at the right price.
I think the money wil be there but the Tribe is going to be facing some tough decisions. The Tribe will have some money to spend but will be facing arbitration decisions with Perez and Masterson who will be in the last yr of team control. Also, Jimenez - $6 M, Myers - $7 M, Smith - $3 M are all FA and Marson - $1 M (probably non-tendered or traded), will likely be coming off of the books. Plus, ACab will be entering the last yr of his deal $10 M, all of these could be movable parts at some point in the future.
May 12, 2013 - 1:06 PM EDT
one more thing, not a big kluber fan. definitely behind bauer and carrasco imo. maybe salazar.

and the lineup last yr was garbage. half the roster of everyday players were pure junk and most probably are bench warmers or shold be out of the league right now. I won't repeat the names but what a horrible roster last yr. the tribe should be ashamed. we should have lost 110 games.

and hafner, will bust out by late june as usual. its already in progress now actually.

he was the biggest bust in cleveland over a 5 yr period for all the major sports. the guy made over 60 mil. in that span, barely hit his weight, constantly hurt (convinced it was roids), couldn't even throw a ball from first to the pitcher etc. the thought of him here again this yr made me puke daily.
May 12, 2013 - 12:57 PM EDT
tony, we had this discussion on another board. I enjoy this stuff.

the incentive for reynolds to lock in now is that he was released at the end of last year!! and he knows his history and he will come back to earth. even so, he is much better than any right hander with pop in our entire minors. I think he would jump to lock in a two yr deal. 10 mil per year would do it. I thinks it's insane he get swisher money. swish is proven .270 hitter with pop and better contact man and versatile fielder. and a versatile relatively young leadoff guy, great base stealer, and gold glover just got 12 mil for 4 yrs. from us. I would bet anything reynolds doesn't sniff a 4 yr deal at anywhere north of 12 mi. even if he hits .275 with 35 hrs, no one will expect that for 3, let alone 4 more yrs.

remember, we just gave myers 8 mil and coming off of what? not much. was a reliever. 8 more to spend next year.

and remember one yr deals to youlkis or whoever for even 12mil. is only a 1 year deal. no long term investment. there's a reason guys only get 1 yr deals.

if the tribe keeps winning, contract prices go up and so will the payroll, but I would expect attendance to come back to so we can afford it. and the 230 mil. or so the team got from the sale of sto is still in the bank somewhere!!

and if lindor moves up to akron or even columbus this year, time to move cabrera and save some money next year sometime and his 10 mil goes away.

time to send lonnie to columbus. I see a career good minor league hitter. same stuff we have seen in stints over 3 yrs now. possibly another laporta. I stlll think his plate discipline is terrible. hope I'm wrong, but just don't see it with him.

May 12, 2013 - 12:11 PM EDT
Capps has not pitched at AAA since April 20th, and is currently on the minor league DL. There seems to have been some setbacks in his return from injury, so he is not an option.
May 12, 2013 - 11:59 AM EDT
June 1...
MT88 in WI
May 12, 2013 - 11:57 AM EDT
Is there an opt out date for Capps and if so, when is it??
May 12, 2013 - 11:22 AM EDT
What about Matt Capps?

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