Indians, Pirates make moves on player options
CLEVELAND — The Indians are convinced Michael Brantley will be healthy and productive, and they exercised his $11.5 million option for 2018.
The 30-year-old Brantley hit .299 with nine homers and 52 RBIs in 90 games, his second straight injury-shortened season. He went on the disabled list twice and had right ankle surgery on Oct. 18. Brantley was limited to 11 games in 2016 because of a shoulder injury that required surgery.
“Going into the season, he had some shoulder issues that really didn’t affect him a whole lot for the majority of the season. And he performed at an exceedingly high level in the first half and earned an All-Star berth based upon that performance,” general manager Chris Antonetti said Friday. “And then with his ankle, he did have surgery on it. There’s a high likelihood of success with the surgery that he had performed, so we’re very optimistic that Michael will be able to contribute for a meaningful part of next year. And, as we’ve seen, when he’s on the field, he’s a very productive player, and we think there’s a good chance that he’ll be on the field for the majority of next year.”
Cleveland also exercised a $3 million option on right-hander Josh Tomlin. The 33-year-old went 10-9 with a 4.98 ERA in 26 starts, including 6-0 with a 3.11 ERA in his last 10 appearances.
“We go through a pretty extensive process,” Antonetti said. “We have a series of meetings with our major league coaching staff. We meet with our performance team, strength and conditioning coaches, athletic trainers, medical staff, just to do an end-of-season review. And then, at that point we transition to some internal meetings with our front office, our senior evaluators and work through the information we have to try to do the best we can to assess what we think a player might be able to contribute in the future and what value that might mean to us as a team, and then how that would compare to expected alternatives. And, in each of these cases, we felt that it made sense to bring both Michael and Josh back on their club option values.”
Brantley’s option price had escalated from $11 million because of a top five MVP finish in 2014. If the option had been declined, he would have been owed a $1 million buyout.
Tomlin’s deal included a $750,000 buyout had the option not been exercised. He will prepare for spring training as a starting pitcher but could be shifted to the bullpen.
“The one thing we know about Josh is he’s capable of contributing in a variety of roles, and he is the ultimate teammate,” Antonetti said. “If we need to adjust, and circumstances need to dictate that, we’ll have a conversation with Josh and adjust accordingly.”
Cleveland has until Monday to exercise a $7 million option on left-hander Boone Logan or pay a $1 million buyout. Logan’s first season with the Indians was cut short by a torn back muscle in July.
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Pirates have exercised their $14.75 million option on star outfielder Andrew McCutchen.
The 31-year-old, a five-time All-Star and the 2013 NL Most Valuable Player, signed a $51.5 million, six-year deal in 2012 that included the option, which had a $1 million buyout attached.
McCutchen hit a team-high 28 homers and drove in 88 runs for the Pirates last season. He began the season in right field but returned to center after Starling Marte was suspended for 80 games for a positive drug test.
Pittsburgh explored trading McCutchen last offseason. General manager Neal Huntington said repeatedly near the end of the 2017 season Pittsburgh’s best chance at winning in 2018 is with McCutchen in the lineup.
The Pirates declined $1.25 million options on catcher Chris Stewart and reliever Wade Leblanc. Stewart gets a $250,000 buyout and LeBlanc $50,000. LeBlanc was sent outright to Triple-A Indianapolis.