A bit of minor news today as the Indians have signed Joe Smith to a one-year contract worth $870,000 to avoid arbitration. The move doesn’t come as a surprise; the Indians hate arbitration (especially with a reliever like Smith), and Smitty is expected to be a key piece of the bullpen going into next year (shudder).
The Indians also apparently haven’t given up on Jensen Lewis either. Lewis had an up and down season (almost literally, he was sent down to and called up from Columbus four times), and became eligible for arbitration as a Super Two player (granting him an extra year of arbitration). I wasn’t sure if the Indians were going to offer him a contract or just non-tender him, due to his inconsistent pitching. He signed a one-year deal to avoid arbitration at $650,000.
These are the type of ho-hum moves the Indians are going to make this winter. They want to see what they have internally before looking outside. That’s why the Indians are giving Lewis and Smith another chance. This doesn’t grant Lewis or Smith any security, however. These aren’t bank-breaking contracts; the Indians could very well trade them, or even just release them if they aren’t performing.
In other arbitration news, the Indians tendered contracts to RF Shin-Soo Choo, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, and relievers Chris Perez and Rafael Perez.
Following the salary arbitration filing period from Jan. 5-15, teams must exchange salary figures with eligible players by Jan. 18. If the two sides can’t reach an agreement on a 2011 contract, the salary will be determined during the arbitration hearings, which are scheduled to take place from Feb. 1-21.
-Jordan Bastian, Indians.com
Don’t bet on any of these players going to arbitration, and look for the Indians to try to sign Cabrera and Choo to multi-year contracts, essentially buying out their arbitration years (and possibly a year or two of free agency). Choo might be dicey because Scott Boras is his agent, and he’s known for getting top dollar for his clients. Doesn’t mesh well with the Indians’ style.