Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer reports that Indians president Mark Shapiro expects to sign a new closer soon. After releasing Chris Perez at the end of October, the Indians are currently without a closer and prefer to bring in one from outside rather than promote Cody Allen or Bryan Shaw.
Hoynes writes that the Indians have reportedly made a two-year offer to Joaquin Benoit and have also targeted John Axford, Grant Balfour, and Fernando Rodney. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports clarified, saying that the Indians are focused on Axford. Axford was non-tendered by the Cardinals as he was expected to make close to $5 million in arbitration. Since an impressive 2011 season with the Brewers which put him at the back end of NL Cy Young balloting, the right-hander has posted a 4.35 ERA in 134.1 innings.
Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is back in the lineup after the team reinstated him from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday. Marte served the bare minimum on the DL after making a rapid recovery from the right oblique strain that sidelined him several weeks ago.
Prior to landing on the disabled list, the 29-year-old outfielder was off to a strong start. He slashed a robust .308/.366/.503 with six home runs, 10 stolen bases and an .869 OPS in 175 plate appearances with the team. This is the first time he’s dealt with an oblique issue, and the first DL stint he’s served since he suffered a bout of back tightness in 2016. While he has yet to prove he can bounce back to his pre-injury production levels, his quick recovery bodes well for a successful return to major-league play.
In a corresponding move, outfielder Jose Osuna was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. The move came as somewhat of a surprise, given that the Pirates elected to retain top prospect outfielder Austin Meadows rather than the more established Osuna. Meadows was recalled from Triple-A in the wake of Marte’s injury and has only played seven games at the major league level so far, but he’s already made a strong impression: he went 13-for-29 with three home runs, two stolen bases and five RBI since his call-up on May 18.