Winter Meetings Indians Rumors: Recapping Day Four

The 2011 MLB Winter Meetings ended with a bang Thursday as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim shocked the baseball world by committing over $330 million to Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.

Thursday wasn’t quite as exciting for the Indians, who saw the meetings come to a close without them having made a single trade or signing. But in this case what happens in Dallas doesn’t stay in Dallas, and while the developments we’ve heard didn’t produce any immediate actions, they still have repercussions for the rest of the offseason.

With that in mind, here are the biggest Cleveland-related rumors we heard out of the Winter Meetings Thursday:

There’s more to come. More than three months remain between now and Opening Day (boy, that’s depressing), so the end of the Winter Meetings by no means signals the end of Hot Stove season. The Indians haven’t given up on making roster moves, and they’re closer to that end now than they were before this week—in fact, the Plain Dealer‘s Paul Hoynes reports that Antonetti thinks he’s “just a couple of text messages away from making a deal”:

“I think we were further some of the discussions we’ve had on trades and free agents while we were here,” [Antonetti] said. “Hopefully, that has led us closer to a deal that will allow us to improve the team.

Indians among favorites for Josh Willingham. Cleveland has yet to make an offer to Willingham,’s Jordan Bastian reports, but that doesn’t mean they’re not serious about pursuing him: the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Susan Slusser reports that the Indians (along with the Twins and Rockies) are among the three most likely landing spots for the outfielder.

Willingham, 32, is a low-average guy with lots of power and solid plate discipline. He hit .246/.332/.477 with 29 homers, 98 RBI and 2.1 fWAR for the A’s in 2011. What his exact role would be in Cleveland is unclear—he’d likely play some combination of left field, first base, and DH, depending on other players’ health and who (if anyone) else the Indians would bring aboard.

Rockies getting serious about Michael Cuddyer. The Indians have been loosely connected to Cuddyer this winter, and they’ve definitely got some competition. We heard Wednesday that the Twins were offering Cuddyer a three-year deal; now, the Denver Post‘s Troy Renck reports that the Rockies are considering offering Cuddyer a three-year contract as well.

Cuddyer, 32, enjoyed arguably the best season of his career in 2011, hitting .284/.346/.459 with 20 homers, 70 RBI, and 3.1 fWAR in 139 games for Minnesota and earned a (questionable) All-Star selection. His presumptive role in Cleveland would be similar to Willingham’s.

The Rule 5 Draft. We heard Wednesday that the Indians wouldn’t add any players via the Rule 5 Draft, and Antonetti kept his word: Cleveland didn’t claim anyone during the draft, nor were any Tribe players taken in the MLB phase.

The Indians lost two players in the Triple-A phase of the draft: Marty Popham and Donnie Webb. Popham, 24, was the Indians 20th-round pick in the 2008 draft. The right-handed pitcher has a 3.72 ERA and an impressive 4.7 K/BB ratio in 336.2 MiLB innings. He didn’t pitch that well in 2011, though: he posted a 4.58 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP in 112 frames, mostly with High-A Kinston.

Webb, 25, was the Tribe’s 10th-round pick in 2008. The switch-hitting outfielder had a miserable season offensively, hitting just .205/.282/.280 in 96 games between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus.

Adam Miller close to deal? Speaking of prospects, remember Miller? He was seen as the Indians’ future ace for about five years until injuries got the better of him—he posted a 5.93 ERA in 44 innings with Kinston and Akron in 2011. He may be getting a fresh start soon, as the New York Post‘s Joel Sherman reports that the Yankees are nearing a minor-league deal with Miller.

Hector Rondon is staying. Despite having been designated for assignment Tuesday, Rondon has cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A Columbus (as opposed to joining another organization), Bastian reports. Rondon had been DFAed to make room for Grady Sizemore on the 40-man roster.

Should the Indians have made a deal at the Winter Meetings?

  • Yes (39%, 9 Votes)
  • We don't have enough information to judge (39%, 9 Votes)
  • No (22%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 23

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Tags: Donnie Webb Josh Willingham Marty Popham Michael Cuddyer

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