July 31, 2014

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Indians: Tribe does little at deadline

CLEVELAND — Fans wondering whether the Indians would be buyers or sellers at the trading deadline got their answer Tuesday. Neither.

Though they struck a late deal to acquire minor league first baseman/outfielder Lars Anderson from the Red Sox, the Indians stood relatively pat during a busy deadline day around major league baseball.

Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti said the Indians had numerous discussions with teams during the final day of the deadline (4 p.m.) and over the weeks leading up, but were unable to orchestrate a substantial trade to improve the big league roster.

“We were involved in a lot of discussions on various levels,” said Antonetti, whose club made a minor move in addition to acquiring Anderson, trading for utility infielder/outfielder Brent Lillibridge last week. “We were exhaustive in our approach to improve our club this year and beyond. Ultimately, in the end, we just weren’t able to align on the right value.”

There was reported interest from a number of teams for Cleveland outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, closer Chris Perez and starting pitcher Justin Masterson. Choo appeared the most likely to be dealt, with the Indians only controlling him for one more year before he can become a free agent, when he is expected to test the market under agent Scott Boras.

The Pirates were early Choo suitors, with Cincinnati showing interest late for the Indians’ right fielder, who entered Tuesday batting .291 with 12 home runs and 39 RBIs in 96 games.

Cleveland was expected to focus its trade deadline search on starting pitching and a right-handed bat, but wasn’t mentioned much as potential destinations for available big-name players that fit the bill. The Indians lost out on Kevin Youkilis, who went to Central Division rival Chicago, and showed interest in San Diego’s Chase Headley, but the switch-hitting third baseman wound up staying with the Padres.

In the end, the third-place Indians, who are hanging onto hopes of contention – trailing the first-place White Sox by five games through Monday — chose to do close to nothing.

“We had discussions that involved a wide range of players,” Antonetti said. “We pursued all of those alternatives. When you’re in a competitive position, you want to look for ways to improve the major league team. But it has to be the right decision and the right value, and we just weren’t able to find that.”

Should they remain in the division and wild-card race, the Indians will still have the August waiver wire period to add external assistance. But Antonetti continues to believe that Cleveland’s success this year and the next will come from within the organization.

“We’ll continue to look for opportunities in August to see if we can improve our team either this year or next year. But it gets more complicated then,” he said. “Our biggest opportunity in the second half is for the guys on the current roster to continue to perform up to their abilities. One or two moves externally, wasn’t going to have as much impact as the players in that clubhouse now.”

Anderson, who was acquired for Double-A Akron right-hander Steven Wright – a converted knuckleballer — might be in that clubhouse soon. At the age of 24, Anderson, a left-handed hitter, owns a career .276 batting average over six minor league seasons, spending nearly all of this year at Triple-A Pawtucket (.259, 9 HR, 52 RBIs in 93 games). The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Anderson has appeared in 30 games for the Red Sox since 2010.

“He’s been a highly respected prospect throughout his career,” Antonetti said of Anderson, who is expected to report to Triple-A Columbus over the coming days. “We feel he has the ingredients to be a potential productive major league player for us.”

Second time around

Roberto Hernandez does not look like he is ready to join the Indians’ rotation anytime soon.

The right-hander formerly known as Fausto Carmona was roughed up Tuesday in his second rehab start since returning to the United States, allowing five runs on nine hits, while striking out two and walking two over six innings of Columbus’ 10-8 loss to Rochester.

Antonetti predicted Hernandez would need three to four rehab outings before joining the Indians. The right-hander is serving a three-week suspension that ends Aug. 11

 

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

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