The Indians have until November 18th to solidify who they are going to protect from the Rule 5 draft. The Rule 5 draft is a draft for players with 4 or 5 years of service in an organization. Players drafted out of high school or college must be protected after 4 years of service and international free agents after 5 years of service.
Currently, the Indians 40-man roster sits at 38 but there are four players, Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin, Micheal Brantley, and Shin-Soo Choo on the 60 day disabled list. There is no disabled list in the offseason; therefore, these players will have to be added to the 40 man roster bringing the total number of players on the roster to 42.
The Indians have eight players eligible for arbitration (Justin Masterson, Jack Hannahan, Shin-Soo Choo, Chris Perez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Joe Smith, Fausto Carmona, and Rafael Perez) and none of the arbitration eligible players are non-tender candidates. There are three free agents, Chad Durbin, Jim Thome, and Kosuke Fukudome and none of the three are expected to be offered contracts and Grady Sizemore's option is not expected to be picked up which will bring the roster down to 38.
Before we examine who stays and who goes, we need a list of Rule 5 eligible players (if not protected) that the Indians may want to consider protecting. This list was retrieved at IndiansProspectInsider.com and I will be making three subtractions and one addition to the list. I do not believe Elvis Araujo, Argenis Martinez, or Oswel Munoz need to be added as they were both signed by the Indians in 2008 as undrafted free agents and have 5 years before they require inclusion on the 40-man and I will be adding Jason Knapp to the list as he was drafted in 2008.
Who Needs to Be Added?
The Current Indians Roster and Whittling it Down
Here is a quick look at the 38 players that currently are on the Indians 40 man roster. Later when we are trying to determine who stays and who goes we need to remember that if a player is being removed from the roster (first time outrighted) for the first time and clears waivers he remains property of the Cleveland Indians and will have to report for the minor league assignment. Check out this article over at Brewcrewball.com titled The 40-Man Roster: How Does it Work?
The Indians 38-Man Roster
It may be easiest to look at the list of players that we are most familiar with and determine who will most likely be in jeopardy of being removed from the 40 man prior to November 18th. By my count, there are eight players in jeopardy of losing roster protection: Pitchers Kelvin De La Cruz, Frank Herrmann, David Huff, and Corey Kluber, infielders Jack Hannahan and Luis Valbuena, and outfielders Trevor Crowe and Nick Weglarz. Of course, not all 8 of these players will be removed from the roster.
Removing all 8 players would reduce the Indians roster to 30 but this is not a likely outcome. Before we look at those players who need to be protected let's get a realistic number of available roster spaces open. The least probable names to be removed by November 18th are Frank Herrmann, David Huff, Corey Kluber, and Jack Hannahan. If the Indians were to remove the other four (Valbuena, Crowe, Weglarz, and De La Cruz) then the roster would sit at 34 with 6 open spots. All four players, Valbuena, Crowe, Weglarz, and De La Cruz are all first time outright's so if they clear waivers they are all still under the Indians control for 2012.
The Indians 34-Man Roster
Whittling Down the "Who Needs to Be Added List"
Whittling down the list of who needs to be added is done by addressing two points of relevance. Often times players are added to the 40-man roster because the front office feels that the player will be in a position to help the team at some point the following season. Other players are added because they project a high ceiling and the organization fears another team may draft the player and find a way to hold them on their 25-man roster for an entire season.
One maneuver teams generally do not do is put everyone that needs protection on their 40 man roster, even if there is an open spot, because if the team signs a free agent or acquires player(s) via trade over the winter then the team may have to burn the first outright option on the player which exposes the players to waivers anyways. In other words, it may be more advantageous to risk a player through the Rule 5 draft rather than outright them an expose the player to waivers later. With this in mind let's take a look at the Who Needs to be Added list in terms of what level the players has achieved in the system.
Who Needs to be Added by Level
Who Should be Considered for the 40-Man:
Working our way across the Indians system and picking the players that may be a help to the Indians in 2012 or have a high ceiling and should be projected reveals a total of 10 players. The 10 players are Jason Knapp, Rob Bryson, Bryan Price, Bryce Stowell, Matt Langwell, Juan Diaz, Hector Ambriz, Scott Barnes, Beau Mills, and Tim Fedroff. Keep in mind, the Indians will have control over all of these players in 2012 if they are not taken in the Rule 5 draft and if they are selected they must stay on the 25-man roster of the team who drafts them or be offered back to the Indians for $25,000 (half of the drafting fee). If they are added to the 40-man to be protected for the Rule 5 and the Indians sign or trade for a player later they may be outrighted off the roster and have to clear waivers.
The Ten Players
By my count the Indians will be able to protect up to 6 of these players from the Rule 5 draft. A quick explanation of the Rule 5 Draft can be found at bizofbaseball.com. A few of the highlights from the linked article:
Clubs draft in reverse order of their won-loss records in the previous season, and only clubs with less than 40 players on their rosters may take part. To select an eligible player, a drafting club pays $50,000 to the player’s original club. The drafting club must keep the player on its 25-man active roster for all of the next season or put him on waivers. If a third club claims the player on waivers, the third club also must keep him in the majors all season. If the player clears waivers, he must be offered back to his original club for $25,000. A drafting club may work out a trade with the player’s original club so that the drafting club can keep him and send him to the minor leagues.Grab the Low Hanging Fruit:
1b - Beau Mills (25 years old): His season got off to a late start after spending the first six weeks in extended spring training overcoming Achilles Tendinitis. He reported to Akron where he had spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons and finally began to hit and regain his prospect status (former 2007 first round pick [#13 overall]). He posted a slash line of .300/.358/.522 an OPS of .880 with 11 HR and 49 RBI in 258 PAs. He was promoted to Columbus in mid-July and finished the season hitting .269/.326/.496 an OPS of .822 with 7 HR and 18 RBI in 133 PA. Overall, Mills posted a slash line of .289/.347/.513 an OPS of .860 with 18 HR and 67 RBI.
SP - Scott Barnes (24 years old): Acquired by the Indians in the Ryan Garko deal in July of 2009. Barnes is a hard throwing lefty who has had command problems throughout his time in the minors but finally climbed to AAA in 2011. While with the Clippers Barnes made 15 starts and posted a 7-4 record with an ERA of 3.68 with a K/9 of 9.2 and a BB/9 of 3.5. Barnes season ended on July 10th when he tore his ACL while fielding an infield grounder. He expects to be ready for Spring Training in 2012 and is a candidate to join the Indians rotation sometime during the 2012 season.
OF - Tim Fedroff (24 years old): Drafted by the Indians in the 7th round of the 2008 draft. The left-handed hitting Fedroff started the 2010 campaign in AA Akron and posted a slash line of .338/.399/.447 an OPS of .846 covering 300 PAs and was promoted to AAA Columbus where he posted a .272/.370/.362 an OPS of .732.
A Gaggle of Relievers
The Indians roster is at 36 if you include the low hanging fruit (Mills, Barnes, and Fedroff). The Indians have several relief options already on their 40 man roster in Zach Putnam, Frank Herrmann, Nick Hagadone, and Josh Judy in addition to Chris Perez, Rafael Perez, Joe Smith, Tony Sipp, and Vinnie Pestano already returning in 2012. The list of 11 includes 5 relievers Bryan Price, Rob Bryson, Bryce Stowell, and Matt Langwell and the Indians will have to decide who to add to the 40 man roster. This decision indicates who the Indians feel could eventually be called up in 2012 as well as who the Indians would not want to lose out of their system. The above description matches three players Rob Bryson, Matt Langwell, and Bryce Stowell.
RP - Rob Bryson (23 years old): Acquired by the Indians along with Michael Brantley, Matt LaPorta, and Zach Jackson for CC Sabathia. The hard throwing right handed pitcher has had trouble commanding his stuff as well as staying healthy. Bryson pitched in 30 games last season between low A Lake County, AA Akron, and AAA Columbus posting a 2-1 record with an ERA of 2.29 with 11 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9.
RP - Bryce Stowell: (25 years old): Drafted by the Indians in the 22nd round of the 2008 draft. Hard throwing reliever with K ability. In 2010 Stowell pitched in Kinston, Akron, and Columbus and struck out 102 batters in 67.2 innings pitched while posting a record of 3-1 with a 2.14 ERA with a K/9 of 13.6 and a BB/9 of 4.8. Stowell had his 2011 season derailed by a personal issue but did return to pitch in Mahoning Valley, Lake County, and Akron in 2011. Overall, he appeared in 24 games posting a 1-1 record with a 2.09 ERA and a K/9 of 13.3 and a BB/9 of 4.9. He struck out 57 batters in 38.2 innings pitched.
Players that Missed the Cut:
After adding first baseman Beau Mills, outfielder Tim Fedroff, starting pitcher Scott Barnes, and reliever Rob Bryson and Bryce Stowell the roster stands at 38. Let's take a look at the players that may be options to be added or who you may feel are better candidates than those that I have listed:
RP - Hector Ambriz (27 years old) - Acquired in the 2010 Rule 5 Draft and spent 2010 with the Indians appearing in 34 games posting a 0-2 record with an ERA of 5.59 with a K/9 of 6.9 and a BB/9 of 3.2. Ambriz underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the 2011 season.
RP - Matt Langwell (25 years old): Drafted by the Indians in the 11th round of the 2008 draft. He appeared in 48 games in 2011 between AA Akron and AAA Columbus. While at Akron he posted a 4-1 record with a 2.66 ERA and a K/9 of 9.6 and a BB/9 of 3.6. He appeared in 12 games in Columbus posting a 1-0 record with an ERA of 4.00 and a K/9 of 8.5 and a BB/9 of 4.
RP - Bryan Price (24 years old): Acquired along with Nick Hagadone and Justin Masterson for Victor Martinez in 2009. Price repeated AA in 2010 and appeared in 28 games and went 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA with a K/9 of 5.7 and a BB/9 of 2.6.
SP - Jason Knapp (21 years old): Acquired along with Lou Marson, Jason Donald, and Carlos Carrasco for Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco in 2009. Has spent the last two seasons attempting to comeback from shoulder surgeries.
SS - Juan Diaz (22 years old): Acquired along with Ezequiel Carrera for Russell Branyan in 2010. Spent the 2011 season playing shortstop for the AA Akron Aeros and appeared in 133 games and hit .255/.310/.368 an OPS of .678 with 9 HR and 60 RBI.
The Final Roster
The final roster includes:
(11) Starting Pitchers: Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jiminez, Fausto Carmona, Josh Tomlin, Jeanmar Gomez, Scott Barnes, Zach McAllister, David Huff, Hector Rondon, Carlos Carrasco, and Corey Kluber.
(11) Relief Pitchers: Chris Perez, Vinnie Pestano, Rafael Perez, Tony Sipp, Joe Smith, Frank Herrmann, Nick Hagadone, Josh Judy, Zach Putnam, Rob Bryson, Bryce Stowell.
(2) Catchers: Carlos Santana, Lou Marson
(8) Infielders: Matt Laporta (1b), Beau Mills (1b), Jason Kipnis (2b), Asdrubal Cabrera (SS), Lonnie Chisenhall (3b), Jack Hannahan (3b), Cord Phelps (UT), Jason Donald (UT)
(6) Outfielders: Micheal Brantley, Shin-Soo Choo, Shelly Duncan, Thomas Neal, Ezequiel Carrera, Tim Fedroff
(1) Designated Hitter: Travis Hafner