Indians reportedly interested in Viciedo
According to Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com, the Indians have interest in free-agent outfielder Dayan Viciedo, who was released by the White Sox on Feb. 4. On the surface, the interest makes sense, because there is a need for more right-handed power in the Tribe’s lefty-heavy lineup.
That said, the Indians have All-Star Michael Brantley entrenched in left field and a logjam of players already in the mix between right field and DH (Brandon Moss, Nick Swisher, David Murphy and Ryan Raburn). If Cleveland can add the 25-year-old Viciedo as a non-roster invite on a Minor League deal, the move would make more sense for the Indians. A Major League contract doesn’t seem realistic at the moment.
Cleveland will, however, be monitoring comebacks from surgery for Moss (hip), Swisher (both knees) and Raburn (knee), so the team is trying to keep contingency plans in place. That is one reason for keeping all the players in the fold for now, rather than using a trade to free things up some. It’s possible, if all the outfielders are healthy come Opening Day, that the Indians might revisit trade scenarios.
Defensively, Viciedo is ranked near the bottom of the Majors as a corner outfielder over the past few seasons in advanced metrics. He has experience at first base (where the Indians have a full-timer in Carlos Santana) and third (where Cleveland plans on playing Lonnie Chisenhall), but he rates poorly at those spots. More and more, especially if he were with the Indians, Viciedo looks like a platoon-option DH.
Viciedo did launch 21 homers in 2014, though he hit just .231/.281/.405 in 145 games for Chicago, which struggled to find a trade partner for the outfielder this winter. His slugging percentage dropped to .405 from .426 in ’13 and .444 in ’12. And, while Viciedo is generally viewed as a right-handed counter for lefty pitching, his platoon splits are actually reversed over the past two seasons combined (.692 OPS against lefties and .711 OPS against righties).