The Cleveland Indians formally announced the signing of Mike Napoli on Tuesday, answering the eternal baseball question as to who is on first. But will the Tribe make any other notable moves between now and spring training?
The Indians needed some right-handed power and signed Napoli to a one-year, $7 million deal plus incentives. Napoli is expected to be the Indians' everyday first baseman, with Carlos Santana moving to designated hitter.
While it appears the Tribe have done their heavy lifting by adding Napoli and Rajai Davis, president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti did not close the door on a free-agent signing that would require the club to surrender its No. 1 draft pick.
“We place a very high value on the No.1 pick, but we've done it before. But it's not something we take lightly," Antonetti told Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer.
Hoynes, however, says it is "wishful thinking" for the Tribe to sign an outfielder such as Justin Upton unless the price comes down dramatically.
Cleveland could still use a corner outfielder, and ESPN’s Jim Bowden wrote last week that a trade with the Reds for Jay Bruce “remains a possibility.” As for a more modest move, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports the Indians remain interested in free-agent infielder Juan Uribe, who finished last season with the Mets.
As the baseball world awaits the Hall of Fame announcement, here are more rumors making the rounds:
Chris Davis: The Orioles were holding firm on a seven-year, $154 million offer to Davis, but owner Peter Angelos has yet to sign off on a “full-bore” pursuit of Yoenis Cespedes or Upton, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Davis is represented by Scott Boras, who is not afraid to keep his client on the market until late in the offseason, so this standoff could continue for a while.
New York Mets: In an outside-the-box move, the NFL’s Cleveland Browns announced the hiring of Mets VP of player development Paul DePodesta as the team's chief strategy officer. The Mets didn’t immediately announce a replacement for DePodesta but will likely promote scouting director Tommy Tanous, says John Harper of the New York Daily News.
Antonio Bastardo: Olney reported Tuesday the Mets and Orioles are among the teams interested in the southpaw reliever. Bastardo, however, wants a three-year deal and that is more than the Mets will offer, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. The 30-year-old free agent had a strong second half last season for the Pirates (2.38 ERA, .142 BAA).
Steve Pearce: Pearce, who had a breakout year for the Orioles in 2014 before sliding to a .218/.289/.422 slash line last season, is looking for a two-year deal on the free-agent market, tweets Rich Dubroff.
Washington Nationals: Heyman tweets the Nats are looking at the trade market for catchers and are involved “on a number of fronts.” Starter Wilson Ramos played in a career-high 128 games last season, but his slash line numbers of .229/.258/.358 were all well below his career averages.
Howie Kendrick: The Arizona Diamondbacks were having discussions with the free-agent second baseman, but GM Dave Stewart does not want to surrender another draft pick after already losing a high selection for signing free agent Zack Greinke. With the market shrinking, Kendrick could become more attractive to the Dodgers, an idea Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times proposed last week.
Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers have been in the market for a first baseman after trading away both Adam Lind and Jason Rogers by the middle of December. Milwaukee has been linked to defensively-challenged free agent Pedro Alvarez, but that talk has been relatively quiet of late. Travis Sarandos of BrewCallBall.com says Will Middlebrooks, normally a third baseman, could be in the mix.