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Catching up with the Indians: Options picked up, Anderson’s surgery, awards week, rivals selling

By Ryan Lewis Published: November 14, 2016

In the nearly two-week period since the Indians walked off Progressive Field after Game 7 of the World Series, there’s been plenty of news around baseball as the league continues its march into the offseason and toward the Winter Meetings in December. There was also this thing called a presidential election, but the baseball news will the take precedence here.

Here’s a quick recap of what happened just after the World Series ended and some recent news, including rumors within the division.

Options open

The Indians picked up Carlos Santana’s 2017 club option valued at $12 million, keeping him in Cleveland for at least one more season. They also exercised manager Terry Francona’s club options for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

As for their free agents, the Indians chose not to extend a qualifying offer to Mike Napoli. He, Rajai Davis and Coco Crisp—who had his $13 million club option declined, though that was a formality—are open to signing with any team. Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti has said that the club expressed interest in keeping Napoli and Davis in Cleveland.

On the mend

Pitcher Cody Anderson underwent an arthroscopic debridement of his right elbow last week after being diagnosed with an impingement in the back of the elbow joint. Dr. Keith Meister, out of Dallas, performed the surgery.

Anderson will being a throwing program in approximately eight weeks and is expected to be ready for the start of the 2017 regular season. Anderson was moved to the bullpen for the latter part of the year after struggling at the beginning of the season, though the club has maintained that he is viewed as a starting pitcher in the long-term view.

Glove it

Francisco Lindor last week won his first Rawlings Gold Glove in his first first year of eligibly as the best defensive shortstop in the American League. He also took him the Platinum Glove, given to the best defensive player in each league regardless of position.


It’s well-known that Trevor Bauer has an analytical, numbers-based approach to many things, baseball being one of them.

Of course, direct math is also something he’s well-versed in as well. A younger fan, who was asking some questions about his drone, eventually asked if he could help out with her math homework. And, he did.


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Francisco Lindor wins first career Gold Glove

By Ryan Lewis Published: November 8, 2016

Francisco Lindor’s calling card as he ascended up the minor leagues was his terrific defense. Now, he has he some major-league hardware to show for it.

Lindor on Tuesday night was named the Gold Glove recipient among American League shortstops, beating out the Los Angeles Angels’ Andrelton Simmons and the Detroit Tigers’ Jose Iglesias, who were also finalists.

It’s Lindor’s first career Gold Glove in his first year of eligibility, as he fell just a few games shy of qualifying for the award in 2015. With it, he became the first Indians shortstop to win a Gold Glove since Omar Vizquel in 2001. He also became the youngest shortstop to win the award since Detroit’s Alan Trammell in 1980.

“It’s an honor, it’s a blessing, and I thank the people from Rawlings, and the coaching staff and teammates throughout the year that helped me,” Lindor said live on ESPN, the network that announced the winners. “It’s an honor, it’s a blessing just to be here, be nominated, and then now [to] win, it’s huge. Words can’t describe how great I [feel] right now. I can’t wait to show it off to my pops.”

Lindor finished the year with a .982 fielding percentage and committed 12 errors. Per FanGraphs, Lindor led AL shortstops in defensive rating (27.8) and Ultimate Zone Rating (20.8). Per ESPN’s statistics, he was best shortstop in baseball in turning balls hit up the middle into outs, with 13 above-average plays made. He was also second to Simmons in Defensive Runs Saved with 17.

It was a coming-out party of sorts for Lindor in 2016, as he earned his first All-Star selection, played well on the World Series stage and now has his first Gold Glove after leading full-time AL shortstops with 6.3 WAR. And, the best news for the Indians: it was his first full season in the big leagues, and he won’t turn 23 until Monday.

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Indians’ Corey Kluber, Tyler Naquin, Terry Francona named award finalists

By Ryan Lewis Published: November 7, 2016

Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber, outfielder Tyler Naquin and manager Terry Francona were all named award finalists by the BBWAA Monday night.

Kluber, who won the 2014 American League Cy Young Award, is a finalist to win his second, along with Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander and Boston Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello. Kluber this season went 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA and 227 strikeouts in 215 innings pitched but missed his final start of the season with a mild quad strain.

Naquin earned a spot on the Indians’ Opening Day roster and went on to hit .296 with 14 home runs and 43 RBI en route to being named a finalist for the AL Rookie of the Year. Tigers pitcher Micheal Fulmer and New York Yankees slugger Gary Sanchez are also finalists.

Francona is expected to win AL Manager of the Year after guiding the Indians to a 94-67 record essentially without Michael Brantley and, in September, mostly without Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. He’s joined by Texas manager Jeff Banister and Baltimore manager Buck Showalter.

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Indians opt to not extend qualifying offer to Mike Napoli, other free agents

By Ryan Lewis Published: November 7, 2016

The Indians on Monday opted not to extend a qualifying offer to Mike Napoli or any of their three free agents ahead of the 5 p.m. deadline to do so.

Napoli was the only genuine candidate to receive a qualifying offer by the Indians. Outfielders Rajai Davis and Coco Crisp also did not receive an offer.

Teams can extend their impending free agents a qualifying offer that represents a one-year contract and is valued by the average of the top 125 salaries in baseball from the previous season. This offseason, that number is $17.2 million. If players accept the qualifying offer, then they will make that amount for one season and are retained by their former team. If they decline the offer and sign elsewhere, their new team forfeits their first round pick—with the top 10 picks being protected in the first round—and their former team receives draft pick compensation.

Napoli had a terrific regular season for the Indians after signing a one-year, $7 million deal that turned out to be a bargain. He hit a career-high 34 home runs and led the club with 101 RBI while also garnering wide praise for his presence in the Indians’ clubhouse. Though, he disappeared in the postseason, hitting just .173 with one home run and three RBI through the Indians’ run to the World Series.

His defense during the season also wasn’t up to par with his previous performance at first base. He had -4 defensive runs saved, per FanGraphs, the first time since 2011 he had a negative value. His Ultimate Zone Rating also dove to -4.4 from 4.4 in 2015.

The Indians could have extended Napoli a qualifying offer and received compensation had another team signed him, but the possibility of him making $17.2 million for one year at age 35 might have been too big of a gamble. The qualifying-offer system each year has seemingly dragged down the value of a player or two who has trouble finding a new club while teams wish to keep their draft picks, bringing additional variables into the equation.

The Indians can still sign any of their free agents to new deals. They have already expressed interest in keeping Napoli and Davis in Cleveland and have had discussions with them.

“It’s important to recognize, and I’ve said it before, that we have a desire to have both guys back,” said Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti. “And I think they share that desire to return.”

Davis was on a one-year deal with a base salary of $5.25 million. At 35-years-old—he turned 36 during the World Series—he led the American League in the regular season with 43 stolen bases.

Crisp didn’t reach the applicable number of plate appearances or games played in 2016 and had his $13 million vesting option turned into a club option for the 2017 season, which was declined by the Indians.

All three players can now sign with any team free of any draft pick compensation considerations.

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Takeaways from meeting with Indians’ Chris Antonetti, Mike Chernoff

By Ryan Lewis Published: November 4, 2016

Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and general manger Mike Chernoff held their end-of-the-season meeting with reporters on Friday.

In the wake of the excitement and disappointment of the Indians’ Game 7 loss to the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, the Indians now are set to head into the offseason.

Here are some takeaways from the meeting.

— Like everyone else, Antonetti and Chernoff went nuts when Rajai Davis hit his eighth-inning home run to tie it in Game 7.

“I almost fell out of the booth that we were in,” said Chernoff.

— On the pain of the loss, Antonetti said, “I mean, we are all hyper-competitive people. We all wanted to be hoisted that World Series trophy, so it hurt when we lost. It hurt on a personal level for us individually, it hurt when you look around the organization and Paul and Larry who care so much and are native Clevelanders and have been in Cleveland for their entire lives and care so much about winning. Tito and the players, the entirely of the organization, you can't help but feel that pain. But with the benefit of a couple days, you can begin to think about a great sense of pride and accomplishment in what our team was able to overcome. And all of the hard work from an inordinate number of people, from our scouts to our development staff to our front office to our trainers, our clubhouse guys. Every single person in the organization contributed to our success. We went to Game 7 of the World Series, that in and of itself is an accomplishment. No the ultimate one we're striving for, but still a great organizational accomplishment.”

— The Indians have expressed interest in bringing back both Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis, and have had discussions with both.

Antonetti: “Obviously, the offseason is just getting started for us, but we have a lot of decisions to make and I think both for Raj and Mike we expressed our desire to potentially to have them back and we recognize they both have alternatives, based on the years that they had but we're certainly open to exploring different ways where both of them could be back here.”

— The Indians are still working through decisions regarding the $17.2 million qualifying offer as it pertains to Napoli. They have until Monday to make those decisions. If the Indians extend Napoli a qualifying offer and he accepts, then he’ll be paid that amount on a one-year deal. If he declines and another team signs him, the Indians will receive draft pick compensation.

— The Indians on Friday exercised the club options in manager Terry Francona’s contract for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Antonetti said Francona did a “masterful job” this season.

“I mean really throughout the regular season, the postseason, the way in which Tito is constantly thinking about how to place individual players in a place to be successful to most impact the team is extraordinary,” Antonetti said. “He's does that first and foremost by building really deep relationships with guys where they know he cares, he has their best interest in mind and is always going to find a way for them to be in their best versions of themselves. He talks about that all the time, he wants to be able to have a reason to brag about guys and he's constantly thinking about ways to do that. But I think just to focus on the job he's done in the postseason, I think is selling Tito short. He's done that from the day he got here. And as high as our expectations were for Tito when we hired him, he's gone beyond that, having a chance to work with him and work alongside him every day, it's really fortunate to have him."

— The Indians also promoted Carter Hawkins and Matt Forman to assistant general manager. Hawkins will continue to oversee player development. Forman will continue to oversee much of the club’s scouting and acquisition processes. Both will now also have a larger voice in other areas. Derek Falvey left to be the Minnesota Twins’ chief baseball officer.

— Michael Brantley is on schedule for his rehab. The expectation is that he’ll resume baseball activities at some point in December and be “fully ready” for spring training. The Indians are also planning on him being an everyday player while also trying to plan for contingencies. Brantley is still interested in being an outfielder instead of moving to first base.

— The Indians see Tyler Naquin as being able to play all three outfield spots. Roster composition could be the determining factor in where he sees the most time.

— The plan for Carlos Carrasco is that he should be able to start throwing in December and have a relatively normal offseason.

— Carrasco and Salazar could be two players asked to play in next spring’s World Baseball Classic, among others. The Indians haven’t gotten that far to have discussions or receive requests for them to participate.

Said Antonetti: I think generally we’re really supportive of the WBC and think it’s a great opportunity for players to represent their countries and we’re cognizant of the impact it’s had for Major League Baseball and growing the game, but on a player-specific level, we haven’t gotten to that point.”

— The Indians could have an interesting spring with Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez both healthy. With those two healthy, it’s viewed as one of the Indians’ strengths.

Antonetti: “I think we feel similarly this year as we did last year, which is, that’s a position of strength for us where we have two really good, high-quality, capable major league catchers. And Yan had some adversity this year, with a couple of injuries he really couldn’t control, but we still feel very confident with him and his ability to lead the pitching staff behind the plate. And then Roberto had some challenges of his own with his injury, us having to cut short that rehab, but he returned and came back and led a pitching staff all the way through game 7 of the World Series, which says a lot about him as a catcher and his leadership. So it’s a a position of strength for us moving forward.”

— Jose Ramirez isn’t necessarily locked into playing third base everyday. The club values his versatility and while the current construction would have him at third base, his ability to play multiple positions allows the Indians to look for different ways to improve the roster. As with anything, they’re leaving the door open to explore those options should they arise.

— After the Game 7 loss, Antonetti and Chernoff were walking around the clubhouse, talking and shaking hands with players. Here was their message, per Antonetti: “We all talked individually, but that was what I shared with them. 'Hold your heads high, we have a lot to be proud of.' Each guy had their own story and how they contributed. Corey Kluber and what we asked him to do and the workload that he bore, not only during the regular season, but during the postseason, that's extraordinary. Because the last game didn't end the way we all hoped, that doesn't take away from what he did. Those were the types of messages that I think I conveyed.”

Chernoff added, “We stand for a lot, we try to stand for a lot as an organization. We try not to back down from a challenge. We try to be resilient and persevere through adversity and we try to do it collectively. We saw a team that embodied that throughout the year, certainly through the postseason and especially in Game 7 of the World Series. So I think in a lot of ways it was something that hopefully our team, our organization and the fans can take pride in. As challenging and as tough as it is to lose that last game, I do think there's a lot to be proud of and that was the message we tried to give each of the players.”

— On if the revenue from a postseason run can help with future payroll and offseason plans, Antonetti said, “I think it helps. The Dolans have been very consistent in how they're operated the team and that any revenues that we're able to generate get invested back into the team. Advancing in the postseason certainly will help that. … I’m not sure how much impact the new minority owner will have. As Paul has said, that's not going to fundamentally change how we operate. But to the extend our revenues increase, whether it's through postseason ticket sales or increased ticket sales for next year, that will have a positive impact on it.”

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Indians reportedly pick up Carlos Santana’s $12 million club option for 2017 season

By Ryan Lewis Published: November 3, 2016

The Indians are reportedly picking up Carlos Santana’s $12 million club option for the 2017 season.

Santana, 30, was at the end of a five-year, $21 million extension that included the club option for the upcoming season. He made $8.25 million, per Baseball Prospectus, in 2016.

This turned out to be an easy decision for the Indians. Santana this past season hit .259 with a .366 on-base percentage, 34 home runs, 31 doubles, 87 RBI and 89 runs scored. Per FanGraphs, he gave the Indians 3.7 WAR, the best season of his career, just beating the 3.6 he had in 2013.

His 2016 production, along with him not turning 31 until April, made his price tag of $12 million for a one-year commitment a solid value compared to the open market. Currently, he’d be the highest-paid Indians player in 2017.

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2016 World Series: Indians fall short to Cubs in Game 7, but Cleveland sports fans remain optimistic

By Michael Beaven Published: November 3, 2016

CLEVELAND: Baseball fans wearing Indians and Cubs jerseys and hats wondered around Progressive Field and the streets of Cleveland after midnight early Thursday amazed at what they just witnessed.

The Cubs snapped their 108-year World Series title drought by clinching the 2016 crown with an 8-7 win in 10 innings over the Indians.

Game 7 lasted nearly four and a half hours, and featured a rain delay and dramatic home runs hit by Dexter Fowler, David Ross and Javier Baez of the Cubs and Rajai Davis of the Indians.

“The most amazing part of this run is that we didn’t have our No. 2 and No. 3 starter throughout the entire playoffs,” Indians fan Peter Pudner said in reference to injuries that kept Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar out of the rotation.

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Cubs 8, Indians 7: Ryan Lewis’ 32 Walk-Off Thoughts on a wild Game 7 and an improbable October

By Ryan Lewis Published: November 3, 2016

Here are 32 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians fell to the Chicago Cubs 8-7 in Game 7 of the World Series Wednesday night.

1. The Indians came so close. So very painfully close. When, really, they weren’t supposed to be anywhere near the the World Series. The Indians were supposed to be a good team that lost too much from its active roster and succumbed to the Boston Red Sox’s league-best offense, or the Toronto Blue Jays, and surely to the Cubs well before Game 7.

2. But there was Rajai Davis lining a two-run home run to left field, completing a three-run comeback in the eighth. There were the Indians, in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 in the World Series, up to bat in a tied ballgame.

3. That’s the lasting impression of the Indians’ 2016 postseason. That Terry Francona, a couple of healthy starters and the bullpen took a team without its No. 2 and No. 3 starters—both Cy Young contenders—and its No. 3 hitter to within one more run, play, pitch of winning it all. They pushed until the meter was full, then pushed some more.

4. The Indians played the last month with their backs against the wall, proving Vegas wrong along the way. They fought, clawed, scrapped their way to extra innings in Game 7 while throwing their starters in Games 4, 5, 6 and 7 on short rest. They were able to get through October. But they couldn’t add November, too.

5. Cody Allen was upset with the loss but looked at it from both sides. He sounded as if he’d start the regular season today if Major League Baseball would let him. He wants another crack at it. It’ll be along wait until February.

6. Said Allen, “We're going to have Brantley back. We're going to have Danny back, Carlos back. The season's been over for 40 minutes and we're chomping at the bit to show up in Arizona. I can honestly say, I am ready to get to Arizona, because I want to get this thing started again.”

7. It was a quiet Indians’ clubhouse after the loss. Allen was dejected, of course. He was also proud of how the Indians fought back.

8. Said Allen, “It stinks. It absolutely stinks right now, but I couldn't be more proud of every guy in this room. We were so close to winning that whole thing, but we just ran into a buzzsaw. You look at the arms they were running out there, their lineup top to bottom, that is a really, really good team. That's probably going to go down as one of the better teams in baseball history. They won 103 games in a really tough division. We were on the losing end of it, but that's going to probably be looked at as one of the greatest World Series of all-time. It absolutely stinks right now, but we didn't go out there and beat ourselves. We just got beat by a really good team.”

9. Kipnis echoed that sentiment, saying, “ "There is nothing for us to hang our heads about. We fought our asses off the whole time. We overcame every single thing they could throw at us. We had injuries. We had you name it, and  not once did we use it as an excuse. All we did was put our noses to the ground and kept fighting. We took a very good ballclub to extra innings of Game 7 of the World Series so I don't think I’ll be hanging my head for too long. I'm very proud of what we've done.”

10. The Indians are in a fairly unique position of being able to have a successful postseason without winning it all. They were effectively playing with house money and, surely, less than full deck. Kluber, Tomlin, Bauer, Miller, Shaw and Allen held the weight of an entire pitching staff on their shoulders as long as they could against three of baseball’s better lineups.

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