The Indians recalled Matt LaPorta from Triple-A Columbus today, but it sounds like this could be his last chance to impress the brass in Cleveland.
Talking to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, manager Manny Acta said he needs better production from the infield corners next season:
“First and third base are positions where we should be looking into improving for next year, whether that’s within or from the outside.”
He’s absolutely right, of course. Indians first basemen are 12th in the AL with a .748 OPS this year, while the team’s third basemen are 10th at .675.
The hope was that Lonnie Chisenhall would be an offensive upgrade from Jack Hannahan after getting the call to take over at the hot corner at the end of June, but the 22-year-old has hit just .226/.260/.377 in 146 at-bats to date, suggesting that he might need a little more Triple-A time next year.
The 26-year-old LaPorta has been a disappointment yet again, hitting .238/.289/.404 in 319 at-bats, and is likely running out of chances. The Indians have gotten solid play from Carlos Santana at first base, but the team doesn’t want to commit to him there just yet. It sounds like he’ll continue to get the majority of his starts at catcher again next season.
The Indians probably won’t want to spend a lot of money to address either position this winter, but they could go hunting for cheap veterans to hold down the fort. Former Indians Casey Blake and Mark DeRosa could be couple of inexpensive possibilities.
Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.
Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.
Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.
Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.
Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.
Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.
Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.