After kicking off the Out of Options series (click here for the quick introduction article) this past weekend, it’s time to revisit things by looking at the next team on the list. Today the Cleveland Indians are at the plate and boast two players on their 40-man roster that do not have minor league options remaining. Could either of these individuals help shore up a weakness on the roster of the Kansas City Royals? Let’s find out.
The New York Mets signed Carrera out of Venezuela as an amateur free agent back on April 4th, 2005. He made his professional debut as an 18 year old in the Venezuelan Summer League that same year. However it wasn’t until 2007, when he made his debut in the states, that he really got his career on the right track. That year he spent 45 games in the Gulf Coast League and another 20 with Brooklyn in the NYPL (A-) hitting 0.329/.408/.406 with 22 SB, 30 BB and 42 SO in 286 PA between the two levels. The following season Carrera made the jump to the Florida State League. His BA and OBP dropped but he increased his SLG and held his own while playing in 114 games.
Following his year in the FSL, he was included in a three-team, twelve-player trade that involved the Mariners and Indians in addition to Mets. However, the December 2008 trade was not how Carerra wound up in Cleveland. Instead he was one of six players that went from New York to Seattle joining Aaron Heilman, Maikel Cleto, Endy Chavez, Mike Carp and Jason Vargas. Franklin Gutierrez was also ticketed to Seattle by way of the Indians.
The Mariners assigned Carerra to Double-A and he responded by having the best statistical season of his career. In 91 games with West Tennessee he hit 0.337/.441/.416 with 27 SB, 59 BB and 62 SO. Following his 2009 campaign, Baseball America ranked him as the 15th best prospect in Seattle’s system and tabbed him as their “fastest baserunner” with the organization’s “best strike zone discipline.” In 2010 he reached Triple-A Tacoma and appeared in 64 games with Tacoma before Seattle dealt him to Cleveland, along with SS Juan Diaz, in June. Russell Branyan and cash were the returns for the Mariners in that deal.
Carrera hasn’t recaptured the success he had in 2009 but he has hit 0.286/.351/.372 in 284 games while in Triple-A. He made his major league debut in 2011 logging a total of 68 games and picked up another 48 games of big league experience last season. In 2012 he showed improvement in all three of his slash stats (0.272/.312/.395).
Still only 25-years old, Ezequiel Carrera is capable of playing all three positions in the outfield. His arm is far from an asset but he has well above average speed that is augmented by natural quickness and instincts in the field. While his on-base skills haven’t fully manifested themselves at the major league level, they likely will if he’s given enough of an opportunity to face and adjust to major league pitching. He has the discipline and approach to improve upon his 2012 performance offensively, though the lefty will never hit for much power.
He seems destined to have a long and productive career as a 4th outfielder in the major leagues, but Cleveland’s moves to overhaul their OF very well could push him off the roster. In addition to their recent signing of Michael Bourn, they also added Nick Swisher and Drew Stubbs earlier in the offseason. The Indians also have holdovers Michael Brantley and Tim Fedroff on the 40-man and in the mix for OF playing time.
With all that in mind it is plain to see that Carrera very well could become available. While the Royals seem content with Jarrod Dyson, Ezequiel Carrera could provide the organization with a younger and more viable long term option. Naturally he can’t match Dyson when it comes to pure speed, but he does have better instincts, a bit more pop and a stronger minor league resume that suggests there’s more upside. It’s certainly not a slam dunk upgrade but it’s one the team definitely should consider.
Huff was a sandwich round selection (39th overall) of the Indians back in 2004 and has since logged 285.1 major league innings with the team between 2009-2012. He has a 5.30 ERA and 1.55 WHIP with Cleveland and it’s not an aberration. He’s allowed a whopping 345 hits in that span, has walked 97 and has stuck out only 157. If you’re keeping score at home that works out to a subpar 1.62 SO/BB. In 572.1 minor league innings he boasts a 3.76 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 6.7 SO/9 and 2.80 SO/BB. Those numbers however are misleading, and they aren’t great to begin with. The bulk of Huff’s success came in the Carolina (A+) and Eastern (AA) Leagues. He’s been in Triple-A since he was bumped up partway through the 2008 season and aside from his 16 start performance the rest of that season he’s hardly been noteworthy.
The 28-year old does throw a baseball left-handed which certainly helps his resume if he hits the market and he was one of Cleveland’s Top-10 prospects from 2006-2008. He doesn’t throw very hard but has solid control. As a prospect his changeup was regarded as plus but only one time in his four big league seasons has it graded out as anything better than league average. Huff added a cutter prior to the 2011 season and that has helped improve his strikeout rate, but he still gives up far too many hits including 30 in 26.2 innings last season. Five of those 30 were home runs and giving up the long ball has been a bit of a problem since reaching the majors.
After being used almost exclusively as a starter (153/159 professional appearances) Huff is fighting for a spot in the Indians bullpen this spring. Regardless of his role, he wouldn’t provide the Royals with an upgrade at any spot on their pitching staff so it’s safe to assume they should and will steer clear.
If Carrera and Huff don’t make the Indians Opening Day roster, I would be stunned if both players go unclaimed. While the Royals don’t have a need for a pitcher like David Huff, there are plenty of teams that could use him as a #5 starter or potentially use him in the bullpen in a number of roles. Carrera, as stated above, is an intriguing option for the Royals as he could provide an upgrade over Jarrod Dyson as the team’s 4th outfielder. Depending of course on how the coaching staff elects to round out their bench.