The resurgent campaigns of Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir played a significant part in why the Indians won 92 games and made it to the American League Wild Card game, but the club will likely have some rotation holes to fill this winter. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that “little progress” has been made in negotiations with either pitcher and believes that they will find better offers elsewhere.
Jimenez already declined his part of an $8 million mutual option with the Indians and is expected to turn down a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer before Monday’s deadline. The 29-year-old right-hander was a mess during most of his time in Cleveland, but he’s understandably looking to cash in after some mechanical changes resulted in a 1.82 ERA and 100/27 K/BB ratio in 84 innings after the All-Star break.
Kazmir was one of the biggest surprises of the 2013 season, returning from obscurity to post a 4.04 ERA and 162/47 K/BB ratio over 158 innings while showing his best fastball velocity since he was a member of the Rays. He doesn’t turn 30 until January and hopes to parlay his bounce-back season into a multi-year deal. Meanwhile, the Indians don’t want to go beyond one year.
There could also be some changes in Cleveland’s bullpen, as Hoynes speculates that relievers Joe Smith and Matt Albers are unlikely to return in 2014.
Craig Mish of SiriusXM reports that the Brewers have put together a trade offer for Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich. He describes the club’s interest in Yelich as “strong,” and notes that other teams remain in the mix.
Yelich’s relationship with the Marlins was recently described by his agent as “irretrievably broken” following the trades of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Dee Gordon. His agent said Yelich “needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win.” Understandably, teams have been calling the Marlins asking about him.
The 26-year-old hit .282/.369/.439 with 18 home runs, 81 RBI, 100 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances last season. He’s in the fourth year of a seven-year, $49.57 million contract of which $44.5 million remains. Given how slow the free agent market has been this offseason, it’s difficult to say exactly what he would get if he were to hit the open market, but it is safe to say that his current contract is very much a bargain for his team, which only makes him even more attractive to inquiring teams.
The Brewers are an interesting team to get involved in the Yelich sweepstakes. Their outfield already has three capable players in Ryan Braun, Domingo Santana, and Keon Broxton. Yelich would still be an upgrade, but the Brewers’ resources may be better spent in other areas like the starting rotation.
Given Yelich’s displeasure and Jeter’s insistence on stripping the Marlins bare — including, potentially, the iconic home run sculpture — it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see a trade happen.