Indians offer contracts to 7 players

Updated: December 13, 2011, 1:54 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- The Indians have offered contracts to all the unsigned players on their roster, including All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and six others who are eligible for arbitration this winter.

Clubs have until midnight EST Monday to tender contracts for the 2012 season to any unsigned players listed on the 40-man roster. Any players who are non-tendered become free agents.

Cabrera
Cabrera

Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, starter Justin Masterson, closer Chris Perez, third baseman Jack Hannahan and relievers Joe Smith and Rafael Perez have all been tendered contracts. The next step for them is to file for arbitration.

It's likely the Indians will try to sign all seven before any arbitration hearings are held. The team hasn't gone to a hearing with a player since 1991.

Cabrera could be in for a big payday. He batted .273 with 25 homers and 92 RBIs last season.

Former All-Star pitchers Joe Saunders and Hong-Chih Kuo, and Baltimore outfielder Luke Scott became free agents Tuesday after their teams declined to offer 2012 contracts.

Atlanta reliever Peter Moylan and St. Louis infielder Ryan Theriot also were among the 30 players set free.

Skip Schumaker was let go in a technicality, then agreed to a two-year contract with the Cardinals.

An All-Star for the Los Angeles Angels in 2008, Saunders was 12-13 with a 3.69 ERA last season for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Kuo had 12 saves for the Dodgers in 2010 and made the All-Star team, then slumped to a 1-2 record with a 9.00 ERA this year. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow Friday to remove a loose body and scar tissue.

The 33-year-old Scott was acquired by Baltimore in the December 2007 trade that sent Miguel Tejada to the Houston Astros. Scott was voted the Orioles' most valuable player in 2010, but he was hindered by a torn right labrum this year and batted only .220 with nine home runs and 22 RBIs.

Also let go were Kansas City left-hander Aaron Laffey, Chicago Cubs catcher Koyie Hill, Washington left-hander Doug Slaten, Minnesota lefty Jose Mijares, San Diego outfielder Jeremy Hermida, Colorado outfielder Ryan Spilborghs, Orioles pitchers Willie Eyre and Jo-Jo Reyes, Boston left-hander Rich Hill and Tampa Bay right-hander Andy Sonnanstine.

In the hours before the deadline, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. agreed to a $2 million, two-year contract.

Toronto agreed to one-year deals with catcher Jeff Mathis ($1.5 million), right-hander Jesse Litsch ($975,000) and right-hander Dustin McGowan ($600,000). Oakland gave one-year contracts to infielders Daric Barton ($1.1 million) and Adam Rosales ($600,000), and catcher Landon Powell ($620,000).

Also getting one-year deals were Colorado pitcher Kevin Slowey ($2.75 million), San Diego outfielder Chris Denorfia ($1,165,000), Pittsburgh pitcher Jason Grilli ($1.1 million), Boston reliever Matt Albers ($1,075,000), San Francisco infielder Mike Fontenot ($1.05 million), Houston catcher Humberto Quintero ($1 million), Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jerome Williams ($920,000), Milwaukee catcher George Kottaras ($700,000) and Miami infielder Donnie Murphy ($560,000).

The San Francisco Giants tendered contracts to two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, fellow starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong and third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

By agreeing to keep Fontenot, the Giants ended the tenure of second baseman Jeff Keppinger in the Bay Area.

Declining to offer contracts is a way clubs can avoid going to salary arbitration with players who otherwise would be eligible. Sometimes, it's a way to get around the maximum cut rule.

Some of those cut loose find success with new teams. Russell Martin was let go by the Los Angeles Dodgers at the deadline last year and wound up hitting 18 home runs as the New York Yankees' primary catcher. He had a $4 million base salary and earned the maximum available in bonuses: $1,375,000.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.