One of the first moves the Indians made after hiring Terry Francona as manager was sending Esmil Rogers to the Toronto Blue Jays for Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes. The Indians dealt away a pitcher whose numbers suddenly jumped off the chart away from his career norms and they were able to get maximum value in a veteran position player and a young catcher who filled an area of need.
With the Rockies Rogers appeared in 23 games (25.2 IP) and posted an 0-2 record with an 8.06 ERA. He had an impressive strikeout rate of 10.2 K/9 but also just as unimpressive was his walk rate of 6.3 BB/9. Once he arrived with the Indians he made a subtle change in where he stood on the pitching rubber, began to pound the strike zone, and along the way became a very valuable member of the bullpen down the stretch. He appeared in 44 games (53 IP) and posted a 3-1 record with a 3.06 ERA and a strikeout rate of 9.2 K/9 and a very impressive walk rate of 2.0.
Many fans expected Rogers to be a member of the hard throwing bullpen mafia but on November 3, 2012 he was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays for utility infielder Mike Aviles and catcher/infielder Yan Gomes.
The Indians acquired Aviles to serve as the backup at all 3 infield positions and for his ability to hit left-handed pitching. In 2012 the Indians were an extreme left-handed hitting club and their performance against left-handed pitchers was abysmal posting a slash line of .234/.312/.352 and in his career against southpaws, Aviles has a slash line of .290/.333/.453 in 611 plate appearances.
The Indians and Aviles avoided arbitration in 2013 and 2014 by agreeing to a 2 year $6 million dollar contract and so far in 2013 the Indians are happy with their investment. Besides posting a slash line of .278/.300/.426 in 60 plate appearances he has started games at second base, shortstop, third base, and left field. He has also displayed some power (2-home runs).
Yan Gomes was acquired to shore up the catching situation in the Indians farm system and on the 40-man roster. He has also played 3b and OF in his career and packs power in his right-handed bat. Although he did not break camp with the Indians because both Lou Marson and Carlos Santana were healthy, it would benefit him to go to Triple A Columbus to catch everyday and get consistent plate appearances.
Plans changed when injuries to both Lou Marson and Carlos Santana brought him to the big league club. In his two stints with the Indians, he has posted a slash line of .216/.231/.514 which includes 5 extra base hits (1 double/2 triples/2 homers) in 39 plate appearances.
Gomes has also earned the trust of his pitching staff by being a very good receiver behind the plate. He has thrown out 4 of the 6 men who have attempted a stolen base while he sat crouched behind home plate, including this key out in the 9th inning against the A’s throwing out Yoenis Cespedes to help preserve a 1-0 victory for the Indians.
For his part Esmil Rogers has not been nearly the dominant pitcher he was when he was with the Tribe. He has appeared in 17 games (18 innings pitched) and posted a record of 1-2 with a 5.50 ERA. The most curious part of Rogers performance with the Jays is his inability to strike batters out, which has always been his bread and butter. Thus far in 2013, he has 9 strikeouts in 18 innings of work, but on a more positive note, he continues to have command of his arsenal and has only issued 5 unintentional walks.