Indians add to haul in Martinez deal
Nine young players added to system in last eight days
CLEVELAND -- General manager Mark Shapiro began his press conference regarding the Victor Martinez trade by talking about Martinez the person and the difficulty in saying goodbye to a player who meant so much to this organization and its fans.But make no mistake. The trade that sent Martinez to the Red Sox shortly before Friday's 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline was another business decision, and the Indians feel it has put them in a better position to contend in the future, perhaps as soon as 2010.
It was a business move because, in moving Martinez, the Indians also moved about $2 million remaining on his contract this season and the $7.1 million they would have owed him if they exercised his 2010 option.And in exchange for Martinez, they received a pitcher, in right-hander Justin Masterson, who could significantly impact the starting rotation, both this year and going forward, and two prospects, in left-hander Nick Hagadone and right-hander Bryan Price, who augment a farm system infused with nine players in the last eight days. "The most difficult thing to do in building a championship core over a period of time, especially in the market that we've got, is to line up position players and pitchers," Shapiro said. "When we critically and objectively looked at our organization, we felt good about a large amount of guys that we have. When you look at guys like Grady Sizemore, first and foremost, Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera, guys like Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana and Nick Weglarz, the biggest thing was lining up a group of pitchers to go with those guys." With the acquisitions over the last five weeks, beginning with the Mark DeRosa trade that brought Chris Perez and Jess Todd over from the Cardinals, Shapiro said he feels better about his organizational depth. And it's not out of the realm of possibility that the Indians will continue dealing before season's end. Though the non-waiver deadline has passed, teams can still trade players from their 40-man roster who clear waivers. The contracts of right-hander Carl Pavano ($1.5 million base, plus incentives) and utilityman Jamey Carroll ($2.5 million) make them candidates to be dealt before Aug. 31 -- the date by which contending teams must add players in order for those players to be eligible for postseason play. For now, the Indians are touting their newest acquisitions as key pieces for this organization, going forward. Masterson, 24, has spent all of 2009 with the Red Sox. He is 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA in 31 appearances, including six starts. While with Boston last year, he went 6-5 with a 3.16 ERA in 36 games, including nine starts. He also recorded an ERA of 1.86 in nine playoff appearances, which were a rookie record for a Red Sox player. When Masterson arrives on Saturday, the Indians will initially place him in their Major League bullpen, but they will stretch him out so that he can join the rotation before season's end. "He has a big frame, off-the-charts makeup and intelligence, toughness, a power fastball with sink," Shapiro said. "I think he gets up to 96 [mph] at times. His slider is always, we think, an above-average pitch. His changeup is obviously the pitch he is going to need to work on. That's going to be the separator for him in a starting role. But he gets ground balls, as well as strikeouts." That's Masterson the pitcher. Masterson the person, much like Martinez, gets high marks from the Red Sox. And when Masterson spoke with the Boston media, he talked about the impact he hopes to have here. "It's a chance to impact lives in a positive way, whether on the field or off the field," he said. "It will just be a new venue in Cleveland, Ohio." Masterson, who was the 71st overall selection in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of San Diego State, is actually a native of Beaver Creek, Ohio. He was born in Jamaica, lived the first three years of his life in Indiana and then spent about 18 years in Beaver Creek, near Dayton. The other acquisitions in the Martinez deal are obviously much further removed from the Major League picture. Hagadone, 23, will report to Class A Lake County. He's just over a year removed from Tommy John elbow surgery and made his '09 debut on June 6 at Class A Greenville, where he was 0-2 with a 2.52 ERA in 10 starts. South Atlantic League hitters are batting .149 off him, and he's struck out 11.5 batters per nine innings. Shapiro said the Indians clocked Hagadone's fastball as high as 99 mph last week. A sandwich round (55th overall) selection in 2007 out of the University of Washington, Hagadone entered the season as the Red Sox's No. 3 overall prospect, according to Baseball America. "Obviously, he's going to be on a limited pitch and inning count," Shapiro said. "He's a lefty with either front-of-the-rotation stuff or back-of-the-bullpen stuff, whatever role he fits in. We expect him to be in the upper levels of our farm system by next year." The 22-year-old Price was also a sandwich round pick (45th overall) in 2008 out of Rice. He's split this season between Class A Greenville of the South Atlantic League and Class A Salem of the Carolina League, where he's gone a combined 4-8 with a 4.67 ERA in 19 starts. He was 1-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 12 games, including nine starts at short-season Lowell last year. He was named the 20th-best prospect in the Boston organization by Baseball America. Price is headed to Class A Kinston. "He's another guy we liked in the Draft," Shapiro said. "He changed his arm action a little bit and his velocity picked up dramatically at Rice University. We saw him up to the mid-90s. There is more velocity in there that we've seen at times, and maybe some more might come at some point if you transition him to the bullpen. He's another arm to add to our Class A team with some pedigree, with some profile and a chance to add to our inventory of arms. And I think that depth of arms is where we will get some Major League talent." That was the goal of the trading season for the Indians. Pitching, pitching and more pitching. They got it, at the expense of some popular players.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.