Where’d They Go? 2013 Indians Free Agents

The Indians had a few high level free agents leave during the off-season, something that hasn't happened in a long time. It may not be news at this point, but now that the final Ubaldo has fallen, it's time to look back and see where everyone ended up in the order they got there.

Joe Smith
Smith was the player the Indians would have most liked to keep around, but was the first to sign elsewhere. He signed a $15.75M, three year deal with the Angels, just slightly (likely by a single year) more than the Indians were willing to give him. It is interesting that Smith went for the greater stability as he will likely see a decrease in importance. Had he stayed in Cleveland, the Indians would likely have not signed John Axford, but instead would have made Smith the closer. In Los Angeles, Ernesto Frieri will remain the closer, so the veteran Smith is already being valued less than he was with the Indians.

Scott Kazmir
The Indians knew they weren't going to be able to re-sign Kazmir as soon as he was still pitching well into July. Kazmir is an incredibly high risk/high reward player and was given a $22M, two year deal from the Athletics. The Indians were smart to stay away for that amount of money as there is an equal chance that Kazmir will blow out his elbow and end his career as there is he will become an All-Star again.

Matt Albers
Albers earned what was probably the most fair contract to both sides in free agency with a one year, $2.45M deal from the Astros. He will likely continue in a similar role to what he did in Cleveland last season and has a team option for 2015. While his deal is relatively inexpensive, it wasn't a good fit for the Indians to resign Albers as they have many relievers who are equal or better, like C.C. Lee and Preston Guilmet who will play for the league minimum. 

Jason Kubel
While he wasn't an Indian long, Cleveland still had control over Kubel when the season ended. The Indians gave up Matt Langwell to get Kubel, who went unseen for the last two weeks of the season. The Indians also had to buy out Kubel's $7.5M option for $1M when the season ended. Essentially, the Indians got a couple weeks of poor, part time baseball for Langwell, plus a million dollars. Declining the option was obviously the right choice as he signed a minor league deal with his original club, the Twins, worth just $2M if he makes the team.

Lou Marson
Marson is finally someone else's problem as he was released at the end of the season and signed by the Phillies to a minor league deal. The worst part about this is that protecting Marson and David Huff last off-season cost the Indians two great young pitchers in Hector Rondon and T.J. McFarland. Marson was with the Phillies prior to being traded for Cliff Lee and hopefully he will bring to them the results they missed after trading him, a .180 average and below average defense.

Chris Perez
The Indians still had control over Perez, but were wary of his upcoming arbitration and tired of his attitude, so he was released shortly after the season ended. This caution proved wise, as he would have likely made at least $8M in arbitration, but was only signed to a $2.3M deal with the Dodgers. The Dodgers have almost completely revamped their bullpen through free agency and will be using Perez in the seventh inning at the latest with Brian Wilson likely taking the ninth. Perez should be a cautionary tale to all professionals as his mouth likely cost him a multi-year deal and at least $5M a year.

Mark Reynolds
Even though he wasn't officially an Indians free agent as he ended the season with the Yankees, some Tribe fans may be interested in where the DH that looked like a superstar last April and May ended up. The answer to that is Milwaukee, where he will make at least $2M. After a long winter with teams being rumored to be involved with Reynolds, then denying that they were, Reynolds was given this surprising deal to be the Brewers starting first baseman if he isn't completely terrible this Spring.

Rich Hill
The least missed of all Indians free agents, the left hander who couldn't get out left handers has signed with the Red Sox with a one year minor league deal worth $840,000. It is surprising any team was interested in Hill after his struggles in 2013 because they had little to do with luck and everything to do with command. He seemed to walk at least one batter per appearance, often times the left hander that he was brought in to get out. If the Indians have any luck, Hill will still be on the team when Boston plays Cleveland and the Red Sox will bring Hill in to face Jason Kipnis.

Ubaldo Jimenez
It took long enough, but Jimenez has finally found a home away from Cleveland. After all this time, his patience has finally paid off, and he will be getting exactly what he wanted the whole time. After denying the Indians initial qualifying offer of $14M for 2014, he has finally received a four year deal from the Baltimore Orioles. In addition to the tremendous risk of signing a player who only had one good half season in his 2.5 years in Cleveland to a multi year deal, the Orioles will also be giving up a draft pick. The pick will be the 17th overall, giving the Indians two picks in the first round (they will get the 24th for the success in 2013). There is little question that with their drafting success in recent years, that the this draft pick will be worth incredibly more than Jimenez at that price.

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians.

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