Who’s staying & who’s leaving?

Here for good:

Travis Hafner

Big Pronk is almost assured to continue being the longest tenured Cleveland Indian. Hafner is signed through 2012 with an option for 2013. To release him right now would cost the team $15.75 million and they would get nothing in return. There are also few teams that would be willing to trade for an aging slugger at that kind of cost. The Indians shouldn’t even want to get rid of him at this point. Hafner was one of the best offensive players on the team in 2011 and barring injuries, could be expected to hit as many as 20 (wow that’s a lot) of home runs in 2012.

Ubaldo Jimenez

The new and expensive (talent wise), ace of the Cleveland Indians is signed through 2012 with options for 2013 and 2014. He is only owed $4.2 million next year, so he is relatively cheap as far as money goes. If Jimenez can keep pitching at above a Paul Byrd level the Indians will almost certainly use both options as well.

The Younglings

Trevor Crowe, Matt LaPorta, Lou Marson, Jason Donald, Michael Brantley, Frank Herrmann, Josh Tomlin, Carlos Santana, Vinnie Pestano, Ezequiel Carrera, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jeanmar Gomez, Nick Hagadone, David Huff, Josh Judy, Jason Kipnis, Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister, Cord Phelps, Thomas Neal, Nick Weglarz, Hector Rondon, Kelvin De La Cruz and Zach Putnam are all too young to have rights in baseball and will be treated like the team property they are. All these players will be signed next March as they make the team or get sent to AAA. They could also be released or taken in the rule 5 draft if the Indians decide to take any of them off the 40 man roster. They all could technically be traded as well, but they are extremely cheap (less than $1 million each) and all have potential to be important assets to the Indians roster.

Arbitration

These players will probably be back, but are at least given the right to ask for more money. Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Rafael Perez, Chris Perez, Joe Smith, Shelley Duncan, Jack Hannahan, Justin Masterson, Tony Sipp and Luis Valbuena are all arbitration eligible. These players are all at different stages of their careers and will all be treated differently on an individual level. Look for the Tribe to offer long term deals to both Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera this offseason as they will look to lock them in for the next 5-7 years. Hannahan and Valbuena are both borderline players who had their replacements brought up to the Majors during 2011 season. If the Indians really believe in Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis they will release both Hannahan and Valbuena, using Jason Donald and Cord Phelps as the back ups at second and short.

Say goodbye to:

Chad Durbin

It’s about time. If the Indians re-sign this waste of space then it may be time for a new GM. Durbin is thankfully a free agent and if he was an honorable man he would give some of his $800,000 salary for 2011 to the young relief pitchers (Nick Hagadone, Zach Putanm, Josh Judy and Jeanmar Gomez) whose roster spot he used up.

Jim Thome

While he has talked about returning next season, at this point we have to assume that Jim Thome will announce his retirement before 2012. Even if he does come back, it will not likely be with the Indians as they already owe $13 million to Hafner and will not be able to afford to give two roster spots to full time designated hitters. More likely Shelley Duncan will remain on the team as a pinch hitter/back-up DH/third string firstbaseman/last resort outfielder.

Kosuke Fukudome

Fukudome is a free agent as well and could be resigned if the Indians don’t trust their outfield depth. With Michael Brantley, Trevor Crowe and Shin-Soo Choo coming off injury ridden seasons, they may feel like they need to sign a free agent outfielder. Fukudome was strong down the stretch and the Indians do have an odd sense of loyalty to some players (Austin Kearns) so it would be possible. It seems completely unnecessary to me and he would have to sign for much less than his previous 4 year $48 million contract so it is very unlikely he will be back in an Indians uniform.

Jerad Head, Mitch Talbot & Travis Buck

These players have already been given their release.

Gone, but he’ll be back:

Carlos Carrasco missed the end of the season due to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. While many pitchers try to come back from this procedure after a year, it is usually closer to a year and a half recovery time. Expect to see Carrasco in the starting rotation again for the 2013 season. He isn’t eligible for arbitration until 2014, so the Indians will almost definitely keep him around during his rehab. 

Too soon to tell:

If you’ve been keeping track, you’d have noticed that I’ve covered every player on the 40 man roster (plus the 60 day DL) except two. These two players have options for 2012, but they far exceed the players actual worth. 

Grady Sizemore

Grady has a $9 million option for 2012 with a $.5 million buyout. That salary seems a little high for a player who hasn’t played in more than 110 games since 2008. If the team had confidence that Grady could come back and contribute the way he has in the past over 162 games, the $9 million would seem cheap, but the liklihood of that happening is extremely low. Hopefully the Indians will pay Grady his half million now and will renegotiate with him to bring him back next year. I would hate to see a great young talent like Sizemore leave the Indians, but $9 million is too much if the Indians are going to sign a new free agent first baseman or starting pitcher. Grady may even be willing to take a drop in salary for an increase in guaranteed years, if the Indians want to take the risk of signing him long term.

Fausto Carmona

The Indians ace from the last few years has sufficiently regressed to the point of possibly being the worst pitcher in the Indians rotation. He has options for 2012-2014, starting with a $7 million option in 2012. The Indians would have to be crazy to pay this. It is a team option with no penalty if they don’t activate it. I think most people are getting at least a little tired with Carmona’s mental lapses and this wouldn’t be a terrible time to just see him leave the team. If he does stay with the Tribe he is in the same situation as Grady where he should have to renegotiate his contract. 

Thanks as always to Cot’s Baseball Contracts for up to date salary information for every Major League Baseball team. For more information about the Indians contract situation, check out the contracts section of Burning River Baseball.

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.

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