The Cleveland Indians announced Friday afternoon that they have exercised the 2015 club option for utility man Mike Aviles.
Aviles, 34, was brought to Cleveland alongside catcher Yan Gomes in the 2012 trade that sent Esmil Rogers to Toronto. Aviles will make $3.5 million in 2015. The club had a buyout option for $250,000.
Aviles has struggled at the plate in his two seasons with Cleveland, batting just .250/.277/.356 in 768 plate appearances with 0.0 Wins Above Replacement. But he brings versatility, having played played second base, third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions, and a strong clubhouse presence.
"Mike's an incredibly important part of our team in so many ways," Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti said during a conference call. "He played six positions last year and filled in very capably in each of those spots. His versatility gives (manager Terry Francona) great comfort on the bench because he can fill in anywhere and contribute and provide us protection at so many different positions. It allowed us last year to carry an extra reliever for most of the year. Beyond what he does on the field, he's a great teammate, a guy who has an incredible energy about him and is a big part of our team and the fabric of our team."
With Aviles back on the roster, the only players from the 2014 team who are not already under contract for the 2015 season are DH Jason Giambi (free agent) and INF Justin Sellers (traded to Pittsburgh on 10/25).
Antonetti said Giambi is unlikely to play for the Indians next year, but could return in some type of organizational role if he elects to retire. Giambi will be 44 on Jan. 8.
"We've been in touch with G and his agent. He's still decompressing from the season and beginning to think about what's next for him," Antonetti said. "He still has not ruled out playing for next year and probably will see what free agency has to offer, see what teams have interest, and decide where he goes from there.
"Obviously he's going to have a lot of opportunities to do a lot of different things in this game. If that ends up being playing for another year, great, if not I would imagine he'll have his choice of what he decides to do next."
As for playing for the Indians, Antonetti paused and said, "I'm not sure as we look at our roster. He's meant so much to us over the course of the past two years, I would never want to just rule it out, but I think it would be maybe a more difficult fit heading into next year than it's been in years past."
Antonetti sounded enthused about what Giambi would bring in a coaching capacity, although he doesn't anticipate having any openings on Francona's staff.
"In terms of a role elsewhere within the organization we would be very open to it because we all have an incredible respect for Jason and the impact he could have in so many ways," Antonetti said.
Antonetti also commented on bullpen coach Kevin Cash's recent interview for the Texas Rangers managerial job. Rangers GM Jon Daniels hired Jeff Banister of the Pirates, but Cash, 36, was one of three finalists, along with Rangers' interim manager Tim Bogar.
"I think it was a really good job by Jon Daniels and his staff to identify a guy who's going to be a very good and very successful major league manager," Antonetti said of Cash. "Kevin brings so much to an organization, brings great leadership. I know his title is bullpen coach, but he does far more than that within our organization. I have no doubt when that time comes he'll be an extraordinary major league manager."
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