CLEVELAND, Ohio – Free agency officially began Monday with 145 players entering the job market. The Indians and Arizona led the way with 10 players each.
The Indians’ free agents are Cody Allen, Michael Brantley, Melky Cabrera, Lonnie Chisenhall, Rajai Davis, Josh Donaldson, Andrew Miller, Oliver Perez, Adam Rosales and Josh Tomlin. If the Indians don’t exercise the options on outfielder Brandon Guyer and right-hander Carlos Carrasco, they will become free agents as well.
It’s unknown if the Indians will exercise Guyer’s option, but they almost certainly will exercise Carrasco’s.
Monday began a five-day “quiet period’ in which teams can try to re-sign their own free agents and express interest in other team’s free agents. Teams are not allowed to sign any free agents but their own in this time frame.
At the end of these five days, teams must decide to make qualifying offers to their free agents and exercise club options for 2019 on the players that have them. Brantley is probably the leading candidate to receive a qualifying offer from the Indians. The qualifying offer is worth $17.9 million and if a player accepts it, he’d be signed for one year.
Since the qualifying offer became part of the basic agreement only five of 73 free agents have accepted it. Under the newest version of the basic agreement, a player can only be offered a qualifying offer once in his career and cannot be offered one if he was traded during the season. Thus, the Indians can’t make Donaldson a qualifying offer. Players have 10 days to decide if they’ll take the offer or not.
Brantley, after missing most of the 2016 and 2017 seasons with injuries, hit .309 (176-for-570) with 17 homers and 76 RBI this year. He scored 90 runs, played 143 games and posted a .832 OPS. The Phillies were scouting Brantley heavily at the end of the regular season.
Last year the Indians had a free agent class of seven players – Carlos Santana, Bryan Shaw, Joe Smith, Jay Bruce, Austin Jackson, Boone Logan and Craig Breslow. They did not re-sign any of them, but did make Santana a qualifying offer. When he signed a three-year $60 million deal with the Phillies, the Indians received a draft pick after the first round as compensation. They used the 35th overall pick to sign high school right-hander Ethan Hankins for a $2,246,022 signing bonus.
The reviews as to who may stay and who will go are mixed on this free agent class. The Indians track record, however, says they rarely re-sign their free agents.
Allen (4-6, 4.70, 27 saves) and Miller (2-4, 4.24, two saves) followed poor regular seasons with subpar performances in the ALDS. Chisenhall hit .329 (27-for-84), but once again spent the bulk of the season on the disabled list with calf problems. He ended the year on the DL and did not make the postseason roster.
Davis hit .224 (44-for-196) with 21 steals in 29 attempts as manager Terry Francona’s primary pinch-runner. The Indians acquired Donaldson from Toronto on Aug. 31 after he missed three months with a calf injury. Donaldson, the AL MVP in 2015, proved he was healthy by playing an excellent third base, but didn’t show a lot of pop at the plate, hitting .280 (14-for-50) with three homers and seven RBI. He went 1-for-11 in the ALDS.
Tomlin (2-5, 6.14) allowed 25 homers in 70 1/3 innings covering 32 appearances. Rosales, a veteran big leaguer, spent most of the season at Class AAA Columbus before being called up on Sept. 1.
The Indians will enter spring training in 2019 needing help in the outfield and bullpen. Cabrera, who hit .280 (70-for-250) with six homers and 39 RBI, could help in right field. Perez, 1-1 with a 1.39 ERA in 51 appearances, could do the same in the bullpen. The Indians signed them cheap because Cabrera and Perez were hurt by last year’s free-agent market that froze out many older players. They’d certainly cost more this time around.
The World Series champion Red Sox have seven free agents in Nathan Eovaldi, Joe Kelly, Craig Kimbrel, Ian Kinsler, Steve Pearce, Brandon Phillips and Drew Pomeranz.
Fall Stars: Indians prospects Yu Chang and Rob Kaminsky have been selected to play in the 13th annual Fall Stars game Saturday in the Arizona Fall League. Chang and Kaminsky are playing for the Glendale Desert Dogs.
Chang, who hit .256 with 13 homers and 62 RBI this year at Columbus, is hitting .340 (17-for-50) with one homer and eight RBI for Glendale. Kaminsky, 1-1 with a 3.08 and four saves this year at Class AA Akron, is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in nine games for Glendale.