UPDATE: The Indians replacing Mark Shapiro as GM

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UPDATE: OK, so it wasn’t Manny Acta’s hat. The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting — albeit a bit speculatively — that the presser is to announce that Indians’ assistant GM Chris Antonetti is going to replace Mark Shapiro as GM, who will get kicked upstairs to be the team’s president.  The change, however, would not take place until after the 2010 season.

This is odd. Not the choice — Antonetti is well-regarded by almost everyone who knows his work — but the timing.  If the Indians really wanted to can promote Shapiro, they would have or at least should have done it at the end of 2009. As it was they had a lame duck making all the moves this winter. Another possibility: The team wants to lock in Antonetti — who has been a candidate for a handful of other openings in the past couple of years — before any vacancies open up elsewhere this year and the chatter starts again.

Either way, it puts just about everything the Indians have done this winter — and everything they will do this season — in a new light. 

8:32 A.M.:  OK, that was quick. Castrovince now tweetsNo way it’s Russell Branyan-related.” So Acta-hats it is. 

8:28 A.M.: MLB.com’s Indians beat guy Anthony Castrovince tweets that the Tribe has called a press conference for 1:30 PM Eastern.  I’m assuming this is regarding Russell Branyan — who the Indians have offered a minor league deal — if for no other reason than because the Indians haven’t been rumored to be courting anyone else. 

I suppose there are other potential reasons for a press conference — maybe Manny Acta got a new hat or something — but until I hear otherwise I’m going to assume it’s Branyan.

Angels sign outfielder Rafael Ortega to one-year contract

Rafael Ortega
AP Photo/John Bazemore
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According to the official Twitter account of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the club has agreed to terms on a one-year major league contract with outfielder Rafael Ortega.

It’s worth the MLB minimum, which should be a little north of $507,000 in 2016.

Ortega was once considered a top prospect in the Rockies’ minor league system, but he has made only six total plate appearances at the big league level since signing out of Venezuela in 2008. The 24-year-old batted .286/.367/.378 with two home runs and 17 stolen bases in 131 games this past season for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis.

He’ll be in the running for an Opening Day roster spot next spring in Angels camp.

Report: Ben Zobrist’s price tag is currently four years, $60 million

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Ben Zobrist will turn 35 years old early next summer, but that doesn’t seem to be putting too much of a dent in his free agent value.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the “sense among interested teams” is that Zobrist’s price is currently hovering around four years, $60 million and it “may go higher.”

There was a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal on Sunday stating that the Mets have made Zobrist their “No. 1” offseason target, and over a dozen other clubs have linked to him since the World Series ended. That’s the kind of attention you command when you can both hit — Zobrist posted an .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 2015 — and also cover a range of positions defensively.

He makes sense for just about any club looking to contend in the coming seasons.

Wilin Rosario elects to become free agent

Wilin Rosario
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
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Wilin Rosario was designated for assignment by the Rockies late last month. Now, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com, the 26-year-old former National League Rookie of the Year vote-getter has elected to become a free agent.

Rosario is a bad defensive catcher and wasn’t much better when the Rockies tried him at first base, but he should draw some interest from American League teams looking for a bench bat and part-time DH.

Rosario slugged 28 home runs for the Rockies in 2012 and he’s averaged 26 home runs for every 162 games over the course of his five-year major league career.

He boasts a .319/.356/.604 career batting line against left-handed pitching.

Orioles acquire Mark Trumbo from Mariners for Steve Clevenger

Mark Trumbo
AP Photo/Joe Nicholson

As first reported by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma Tribune and now confirmed by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mariners have traded first baseman and corner outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Orioles in exchange for catcher and first baseman Steve Clevenger. There is also a second player headed to Baltimore in the deal.

This feels like an admission from the O’s that they’re not going to be able to re-sign Chris Davis, who is said to be looking for more than $150 million in free agency.

Clevenger was out of options and the Orioles have both Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph coming back at the catcher position. Wieters was due to become a free agent but accepted a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Baltimore last month.

Trumbo has always been a low-OBP guy and he rates as a poor defender everywhere he has played, but the 29-year-old has averaged 31 homers and 96 RBI for every 162 games in his six-year major league career. Camden Yards is a much better place than Safeco Field for him to show that power.