The Indians may have not been as active during the Winter Meetings as some fans would prefer, but that doesn't mean they haven't done anything. While they didn't take anyone in the Rule 5 Draft and Asdrubal Cabrera is still with a team, they have been busy adding the AAAA role players they like to sign every year. A few players that were with the Indians just weeks ago, but were released when the 40 man roster had to be set have been brought back with minor league contracts and invites to Spring Training. This includes September spark plug, Matt Carson as well as Tyler Cloyd who was brought in off waivers after the season ended and David Cooper. In addition to these players coming back, the Indians have signed another Dave, Dave Adams as well as Travis Banwart.
Banwart was a fourth round pick of the Oakland Athletics in 2007 and has yet to make his Major League debut. This will be his first season away from the Athletics organization as he looks to join the Clippers in 2014. With more than 850 innings under his belt already, things don't look great for Banwart to ever make it to the Majors, but he seems to be a reliably mediocre AAA starter. He could be a solid base for the rotation as players like Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin could be bouncing from level to level. Of course with a career 4.21 ERA, he doesn't leave much to get excited about.
David Cooper is younger than Banwart, but further along in his career as he has already tasted Major League rejection. After two partial seasons in Toronto, Cooper spent all of 2013 rehabbing with the Indians in Arizona and Columbus. At 27 years old, Cooper is an unlikely candidate for the Majors, but with a .750 career MLB OPS, he would likely be a better solution at DH than Jason Giambi (.662 OPS in past two seasons).
David Adams is probably the most interesting of the players signed during the past week. He is younger than the two previously mentioned by a year and played his first year in the Majors in 2013. While he struggled in 43 games with the Yankees, he has shown promise in AAA (16 extra base hits and 21 RBI in 59 games in 2013) and is a serviceable defender at the hot corner. His position may in fact be his most important asset. With Lonnie Chisenhall questionable, being listed as a prospect still while players significantly younger than him have already cemented themselves as All-Stars (like Jason Kipnis), the Indians are far less than confident with their third base situation. The Indians are still awaiting a good offer for Asdrubal Cabrera, but it still seems unlikely that he will finish the season with the Indians. Between his difficult contract situation and Chisenhall's struggles, the Indians are likely to need someone who can play third (Mike Aviles would be the normal back-up, but would be forced to play short stop in Cabrera's absence) at some point this year.
In the end, these deals are unlikely to do much more than increase the average age of the Clippers, but they are necessary to fill out rosters and it is impossible to know who will have an unpredictable break out season. All three players detailed were taken fairly high in their drafts (Cooper was a first round pick in 2008) and that means at one point they showed something special. Even if nothing ever comes from this, these kind of signings won't hurt the Tribe and could possibly lead to some surprises.