CLEVELAND -- The Indians avoided arbitration with all three of their eligible players on Friday afternoon.
Hedges now becomes the third-highest paid player on the Tribe’s current 40-man roster, trailing just José Ramírez ($9.4 million) and Roberto Pérez ($5.5 million). The 28-year-old backstop was sent to Cleveland from San Diego in the Mike Clevinger trade at last year’s Trade Deadline. Hedges played in just six games with the Tribe and went 1-for-12, but he has been highly regarded for his above-average defense.
The Indians may have traded right-hander Carlos Carrasco, but they still have an elite rotation, boasting reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale. And with the expectation of relying on more young arms, the team has continued to prioritize having top-of-the-line catchers behind the plate to help lead the rotation. Now, with Pérez and Hedges owning two of its three highest contracts, the club has proven just how essential it believes that catching duo is.
Rosario joined the Tribe last week as part of the return package from the Mets for shortstop Francisco Lindor and Carrasco. Rosario was New York’s primary shortstop for the past four seasons and will likely take Lindor’s spot with Cleveland in 2021. Last year, Rosario hit .252 with a .643 OPS in 46 games, and he ends his four-year stint in New York with a .268/.302/.403 slash line, 32 homers and 148 RBIs. The 25-year-old has had success against lefties in his career, slashing .300/.339/.473.
Maton was one of the Tribe’s most-used arms out of the bullpen last season, tying former closer Brad Hand for the third-most appearances on the year. The 27-year-old righty pitched to a 4.57 ERA in 21 2/3 frames with a 2.22 FIP and a 13.3 strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio. He made nine appearances for Cleveland in 2019 after he was traded to the Tribe from the Padres at that year’s Trade Deadline.
Cot’s Baseball Contracts had projected that the Tribe would spend $5.525 million between its three arbitration-eligible players. The club ended up spending $6.655 million, which brings its Opening Day payroll projection to approximately $37.6 million, according to Cot’s.
The team saved about $30 million for the 2021 roster by trading away Lindor and Carrasco, and the front office indicated that the next steps will be to reinvest at least some of those savings back into the team. Depending on how much the Tribe plans to spend, the club could still have plenty of room to make some additions to the active roster prior to Opening Day.