The Tribe decided to part ways with Martin on Saturday, designating him for assignment prior to their game against the Tigers. The move made room the club’s No. 24 prospect Aaron Civale, who was called up to start in place of an injured Mike Clevinger, on the 25- and 40-man rosters. Civale tossed six scoreless innings to earn the victory in his Major League debut.
“[It was a] difficult move for us organizationally, with all we’ve been through with Leonys,” Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. “But at this point, we felt that it was the right thing to do for our team. We’ve got a lot of moving parts right now and expect there to be some forthcoming moves that will rebalance our roster over the next few days.”
During Thursday’s game in Texas, shortstop Francisco Lindor and Martin were seen having a heated argument in the Indians’ dugout. Martin was then out of the lineup on Friday against the Tigers, but Antonetti was clear that the argument had no influence in their decision.
“Unfortunately, Leonys has just had a really difficult time getting going offensively,” Antonetti said. “And we feel that there are guys that are capable and have earned some more of those at-bats, and that kind of led to the decision.”
Martin was hitting .199/.276/.343 with nine homers and 19 RBIs in 65 games this season. The center fielder was out of the lineup in just 10 games prior to getting released, as Mercado, a natural center fielder with the ability to play all three outfield positions, spent most of his time in left. Through his first 119 at-bats, the 24-year-old hit .303 with an .836 OPS, four homers and 13 RBIs.
When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster. Within seven days of the transaction (it had been 10 days under the 2012-16 Collective Bargaining Agreement), the player can either be traded or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.
“Oscar was a big part of the equation,” Antonetti said. “I think his continued development and emergence as a really productive Major League player for us helped nudge that decision. But it’s also a factor of the way some of the other guys have performed as well, because we feel some of the guys on our roster have earned some more at-bats, and we can better allocate playing time differently than we have over the last couple of weeks.”
It’s been clear that Civale’s stay will be short, as Clevinger (sprained left ankle) will miss just one start. Antonetti mentioned multiple times to expect more moves coming in the near future, meaning the door is wide open for the team’s No. 6 prospect, Bobby Bradley.
“It’s exciting to think about Bobby’s future,” Antonetti said. “At some point, we expect that he’ll be here to help us.”
Bradley has put on quite a show in Triple-A Columbus this season, hitting .292 with 24 homers, 55 RBIs, 17 doubles and a .997 OPS in 257 at-bats, although he has already racked up 91 strikeouts. The Indians are currently carrying nine relievers in their bullpen, which will also make for an easy move to clear a roster spot for someone like Bradley or Greg Allen.
“We need to get through today first, and then we’ll figure out what the best thing is for our roster the next few days,” Antonetti said. “But I expect we’ll have other moves. We won’t continue to carry this many pitchers. As much as Tito likes relievers, at some point we need to rebalance the roster.”
What impact does Antonetti think eliminating the waiver Trade Deadline at the end of August will make on this year’s market?
“I don’t think it will have too much of an impact on those big deals,” Antonetti said. “But I do think it will force teams to assess their depth and make even a lot of smaller trades early to be able to make sure that if anything happens in August or September they’re well prepared for it. I would expect the overall volume of trades will increase prior to July 31, even if they may not be the headline-grabbing ones.”
This date in Indians history
1965: Chuck Hinton hit a walk-off solo homer in the 10th inning to beat Minnesota, 5-4.