When the Indians hired Terry Francona to be their manager for four million per year, I was hopeful this ownership had taken a turn. Exhilaration was subdued because common sense kicked in. If the Dolan’s spent this kind of money on a manager, would they spend anymore on the roster? So far that is a thunderous NO.
Monday the Tribe announced the signing of former Baltimore and Arizona first baseman Mark Reynolds to a one year deal worth $6 million. Reynolds is the substitute signing for the Tribe when they gave up on Kevin Youkilis.
The 29 year old Reynolds is a decent player, not one to make a tremendous impact on the team. He’s a big stick and those with insight say is popular in the locker room. This move definitely should give the team the right handed power they have longed for over two seasons.
Reynolds hit .221 with 23 home runs and 69 RBI’s for the O’s in 2012, which was an off year. In 2009 with the D’Backs, Reynolds had his best season of 44 home runs and drove in 102 runs. But Reynolds is also a strike out machine. During that 2009 season he struck out 223 times. Last year in 135 games he whiffed 159 times, his lowest total since 2007.
Reynolds gives Cleveland a first baseman with power, something they haven’t had since Jim Thome. He will solidify the first base position and slip into the 4th or 5th spot of the batting order nicely. However don’t think for a second this was the Dolan’s spending money to improve the ball club.
Since the season ended, the Indians have cut ties with Travis Hafner ($12 million), Grady Sizemore ($5 million), Robert “Fausto Carmona” Hernandez ($3 million), Rafael Perez ($2 million) and Casey Kotchman ($1 million). That’s a savings of $23 million, all off the books since the final game.
Usually manager’s salaries are not made a part of the team salaries, but the Indians are the exception. With Francona making $4 million per year, and the signing of Reynolds, that means the Indians have taken on $10 million in new money. However, because of what they cut, they are still in the black by $13 million.
Make no mistake, the signing of Reynolds was not the Indians spending money. Just the opposite. It was the Dolan’s, Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti reallocating money from last year. In addition Reynolds signing will now prohibit Cleveland from landing Youkilis and/or Nick Swisher.
Youkilis could have played first, with Swisher in the outfield. The Indians offered Youkilis last week a two year, $18 million deal. Just after, the Yankees offered him a one year contract for $12 million to play third while A-Rod is gone. Youkilis hasn’t decided yet. However the Indians made the decision for him by turning tail and running when the Yankees made their offer.
Youkilis would still be a nice fit at the DH spot in the order. With Hafner gone the Tribe needs to address that spot. He could rotate with Reynolds at first and Lonnie Chisenhall at third. Yet that idea is practically out the window now.
Nick Swisher is contemplating Cleveland with Seattle. If he comes to Cleveland Shin Soo Choo is almost certainly gone. That would clear another $5 million in salary. Swisher would probably take a four year deal in the neighborhood of $13 million per year, and he would fit in well batting second or third. Plus he is an Ohio native, a natural draw.
With the addition of Swisher and the subtraction of Choo, this leaves the Tribe in the black by $5 million, $9 mill if you don’t include Francona’s salary. Which means they still have enough money to sign Youkilis and have the same salary in 2013 as 2012, yet have a better ball club. Even the Dolan’s couldn’t argue with this.
Yet there is one problem with this equation. There are new rumors the team wants to re-sign Grady Sizemore.
Dave Mitchell and Mark Donahue co-host the “Ohio Baseball Weekly” show highlighting the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds, returning to UST in March, 2013.