By Jason Ruggiero
Pitchers and catchers are due to report to Goodyear, Arizona tomorrow. That means by this time next week I will have juicy nuggets to report like “So and so is in the best shape of his life” and “Blank looked sharp in his bullpen today.” Fascinating stuff to be sure, but that is all next week. So let’s get rolling on another pre-Spring Training edition of Noise on the North Coast.
Pestano Loses Arbitration Case
The first of the Indians’ four arbitration cases was decided on Saturday when the arbitration judge sided withe Indians and awarded Vinnie Pestano a $975,000 contract for 2014.
I always thought that Pestano was un-wise to pursue the arbitration hearing. While he had two excellent seasons his 2013 was an absolute train wreck. When his 2013 injury and ineffectiveness is coupled with his role as a set-up man (and therefore a lack of saves) it isn’t surprising to see the judge side with the Indians.
The Indians are still poised to face-off against Josh Tomlin (Feb. 14), Michael Brantley (Feb. 17) and Justin Masterson (Feb. 20). As I’ve said numerous times the Brantley and Masterson hearings get the most press but I wouldn’t be surprised if the involved parties reach an agreement before the actual hearing begins. I don’t expect the Indians to budge on Tomlin. They are trying to prove a point by going to hearings with Tomlin and Pestano and they certainly won’t back down after being vindicated once.
Hagadone and Indians Settle on Grievance
Do you remember the Indians 2012 season? I don’t either but I do remember that after another stink-bomb outing in 2012 Nick Hagadone went into the Tribe dugout and threw an 80-grade fit, fracturing his forearm in the process.
The Indians, disappointed in Hagadone’s pitching performance and disgusted with his tirade optioned Hagadone to the minors and put him on the disabled list there. By placing him on the DL in the minors Hagadone was not credited major league service time for the 94 days he spent on the disabled list (since he was not on the 25-man roster during that time).
In protest Hagadone (supported by the MLBPA) filed a grievance against the Indians. That grievance was finally settled last week with both sides gaining something in the process. Hagadone will be credited (and compensated) for 94 days of major league service time and the Indians will receive another minor league option on Hagadone.
The credit for service time is bad news for the Indians since that 94 days could push Hagadone to Super 2 status if he spends most of 2014 on the active roster. While that could lead to a bigger payday for Hagadone in the future the minor league option is a huge asset for the Indians going into 2014. Without it the Indians would be forced to carry Hagadone on the MLB roster all season for fear of losing him to waivers. Now they are free to shuttle him back and forth to Columbus as needed for one more season.
The Waiting is the Hardest Part
It’s that time again . . . time for the obligatory comments on the Ubaldo Jimenez saga and the still developing free agent pitching market.
Scott Baker, Bronson Arroyo and Paul Maholm are all off the board. Tribe pitchers and catchers report to spring training tomorrow and Ubaldo Jimenez is still searching for gainful employment. In fact Ervin Santana and A.J. Burnett are still looking as well.
Burnett probably isn’t coming to Cleveland. While he would be a great fit in terms of years, Burnett has a very specific list of teams he is looking at and it doesn’t seem like the Indians are on that list.
Santana isn’t coming to Cleveland either. The Indians are hesitant about spending on Ubaldo so there is no way they are going to spend on Santana when they have to give up a draft pick too.
That only leaves Ubaldo. The Indians appear to be ready to head into Spring Training without signing another pitcher. It’s entirely possible that the Tribe front office is really planning on bring Ubaldo back, they just are waiting him out so they get the lowest price possible. It’s also entirely possible that the Indians just aren’t that concerned about bringing Ubaldo back and is more excited about the idea of an extra draft pick.
There are rumors that Ubaldo may consider waiting until after the June draft to sign. If a player who was given a qualifying offer waits until after the draft to sign the team that signs them will no longer have to give up a draft pick. (Nor will the team who gave the qualifying offer receive any compensation.) Obviously this would be the worst scenario for the Indians but June is a long way away. I still think the most likely scenario is that Ubaldo signs a short-term deal with the Indians to rebuild his value.