Indians trade Freeman to Reds; Bieber to start opener

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
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CLEVELAND — The Indians traded utility infielder Mike Freeman to the Cincinnati Reds for cash.

Manager Terry Francona announced the deal from the team’s year-round training complex in Goodyear, Arizona, shortly after he said reigning Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber will start the opener at Detroit on April 1.

“That’s probably not any big secret,” Francona said.

No, but dealing the 33-year-old Freeman was a little surprising as the Indians valued his versatility and experience. Freeman played 99 games and batted. 270 over the past two seasons with Cleveland, which signed him to a minor-league deal last month with a camp invitation.

However, with Freeman behind Amed Rosario, who came over from the New York Mets in the Francisco Lindor deal this winter, and Yu Chang, he was probably not going to make Cleveland’s roster and the club found him a fresh start.

“They seem to have what they think is a better opportunity for him to maybe not only make their club, but actually play a little bit more,” Francona said. “It’s not fun saying goodbye to someone you care that much about, but on the flip side, knowing he’s got a really good opportunity kind of made us feel good.”

Rosario is a shortstop, but the Indians are going to give him a look in center field starting next week.

Notes: Top prospect Nolan Jones was among several other players optioned. Francona said the 22-year-old Jones will continue work at third base and in the outfield.