The Cleveland Indians will use many different avenues during the offseason to improve their 40-man roster and build vertical depth in the minors.
Over the winter I will focus on all types of players from top tier free agents (who may fall to the Indians price range) to the ugly list. Today, I’ll take a look at Jordan Norberto formerly of the Oakland Athletics.
2013 Salary/Contact Status:
At the end of spring training Norberto (26 year old in December) was sent to the Oakland Athletics Triple A affiliate Sacramento River Cats but was suffering from a tender elbow that put him on the minor league disabled list after only 3 appearances.
He was a midway through a six week resting/rehab period when the A’s released him. Shortly after his release he filed a grievance against the A’s claiming that he was injured in spring training and should have been placed on the major league disabled list rather than being sent to the minor leagues.
Like so many other pitchers who have tried the rest routine for a strained elbow it didn’t help and on June 20th he had reconstructive Tommy John surgery.
The battle with the Oakland A’s wasn’t the only one he’d have to endure in 2013. He was named in the Biogenesis scandal and was subsequently suspended for 50-games. As part of the agreement he will not be able to serve the suspension until he’s signed by another team.
Last 3 Seasons:
He began the 2011 season pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks Triple-A affiliate Reno Aces where he appeared in 41 games all in relief (6-2, 4.25 ERA). He struck out 54 batters in his 48.2 innings of work and walked 26. On July 31st he was traded along with Brandon Allen to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Brad Ziegler.
He reported directly to the A’s but had a rough 6 appearances allowing 6 earned runs on 8 hits in just 6.2 innings of work. He was unable to command the strike zone walking 7 batters while only striking out 4 leading to his demotion to Sacramento where he finished the year working 8.1 innings allowing one earned run striking out 10 and walking 4.
He had his breakthrough season in 2012 with the A’s. He appeared in 39 games (4-1, 2.77 ERA) working 52 innings and struck out 46 hitters while walking 22. The big negative of his 2012 season were his two stints on the disabled list (May 31 through June 21st and again on August 18th through the end of the season) due to shoulder soreness.
As noted above he began the year in Triple-A and later had elbow surgery that ended his season.
The Indians proved that even if a player is going to be rehabilitating from TJ surgery for most of the year they aren’t afraid of picking the player up. They employed this strategy last winter when they claimed Blake Wood off waivers from the Kansas City Royals and agreed to a 1-year $560K contract (avoiding arbitration).
The Indians need to play in this end of the free agent pool. Risking dollars to gain 4 years of club control is the type of risk an organization like the Indians should entertain.
Additionally, the idea of having a competent left handed reliever who can get both sides of the plate out and has the ability to strike hitters out for low cost over the next four seasons is something that every organization would like to have.
Type of Contract:
He doesn’t have much leverage in terms of actual dollars he can ask for as he’ll be signed to around the major league minimum but he does have the power to try to get a major league deal. This will get him a spot on a 40-man roster and after his rehabilitation assignment is complete he’d have a much better shot of being added to a big league roster if he’s already on the 40-man.
The Indians should risk the ~$500K and 40-man roster spot and roll the dice that the injuries and PED problems are behind him.
Other Ugly List Members: