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January 4, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Callin' Myers

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League

CLEVELAND INDIANS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Designated RHP Jeanmar Gomez for assignment. [1/2]
Claimed INF-R Russ Canzler off waivers from the Blue Jays. [1/2]
Signed RHP Brett Myers to a one-year deal worth $7 million with a club option for the 2014 season. [12/26]

Myers is a bit of a sour fellow, a pitcher whose fans, including Richard Justice, cannot praise him without pointing out his prickly nature upfront. (Justice spared mention of Myers’ questionable taste in facial hair.) He also possesses one of the oddest active career acts. Having alternated to and from the bullpen twice in the past, Myers now desires a return to the rotation. His search for starts leads him to Cleveland, where he makes a lot of sense for the Indians.

The 32-year-old looks and pitches older than he is. This may sound odd considering Myers has twice moved to the bullpen, but his greatest strengths are durability and arsenal depth. Myers is a decent bet to eat 200 to 220 innings for the Indians, thanks to groundball tendencies stemming from a high-80s sinker. He’ll mix his speeds, using his curveball, slider, and changeup, and locates well enough to keep batters off-balance, all the while pounding the strike zone. You can do worse.

Cleveland’s offseason strategy is beginning to resemble Oakland’s from last winter. The key difference is Oakland’s pitching quality and depth. The Indians are hoping Justin Masterson or Ubaldo Jimenez can lead the way, while some combination of Zach McAllister, Carlos Carrasco, and Corey Kluber shore up the back end. Yes, Trevor Bauer is around, and yes, Cleveland could add a veteran like Shaun Marcum. For now it’s hard to gamble on either scenario. Likewise, you shouldn’t bet on Cleveland winning the division. This Indians bunch should win more games than they did last year (68), however, and fans have to be pleased to see some offseason additions.

The downside for Cleveland—a team whose top prospects are near the bottom of the ladder—is that they may have to do this again next winter and the winter after that. Will it ever be enough to make it to the postseason? It’s tough to say, but their chances are better now than they were a week ago.

As for the other moves: Gomes started 17 games for Cleveland in 2012, pushing his career total to 38 big-league starts. His low-90s sinker gets groundballs, but the overall package gives him an upside of a fifth starter. An organization in need of cheap arms could give him a look. Meanwhile, Canzler is the quintessential Quad-A slugger: good human being with good Triple-A numbers but skills with bad big-league translatability. Scouts question Canzler’s bat speed and his approach at the plate. The bat needs to work for Canzler to latch onto a roster spot since he does not have the athleticism or defensive ability to make up for lackluster offense.

TEXAS RANGERS
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Signed RHP Jason Frasor to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million. [1/3]

The Rangers bullpen will look different come opening day. Jon Daniels signed Joakim Soria earlier in the winter and now adds Frasor, all in an attempt to heal the exit wounds left by Koji Uehara and Mike Adams (and perhaps Mark Lowe). Frasor, formerly of the Blue Jays, throws three pitches (a low-to-mid-90s fastball, slider, and splitter) but is best suited in middle relief because of his wide platoon splits. The difference between Frasor’s multi-year TAv against righties (.234) and lefties (.308) in player form in 2012 is the difference between Allen Craig and Cliff Pennington. Ron Washington is going to have to micromanage Frasor’s usage to get the best out of him; if that happens, Frasor should be a nice enough get on a one-year deal worth pennies. 

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

Related Content:  Brett Myers,  Jason Frasor

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