Andy LaRoche is the latest role player with a chance to join the Cleveland Indians.
The Indians signed the right-handed infielder to a minor league deal this week. Infielder Jose Lopez, outfielder Felix Pie and catchers Luke Carlin, Michel Hernandez and Matt Pagnozzi will join LaRoche at spring training as a non-roster invitee with a shot at making the big-league club.
The Tribe are covering their bases and hoping to add quality depth in case they have another injury-plagued season.
Jason Donald likely will be LaRoche’s top obstacle in trying to make the team as the top utility player. LaRoche, a third baseman who has played every infield position and left field in the majors, hit .247 in 40 games for the Oakland A’s last season. LaRoche played for the Pittsburgh Pirates for parts of three seasons.
In other MLB news this week:
–The Texas Rangers won the rights to negotiate with Yu Darvish with a record $51.7 million bid. It’s an absurd amount of money just to sit down and try to convince Japan’s top pitcher to join the Rangers. The whole process needs to be fixed.
–The Washington Nationals landed one of the best young left-handers in the game via a six-player trade Thursday. Gio Gonzalez, a 26-year-old who was 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA last season, was sent from the Oakland A’s to the Nats in a deal involving prospects. Washington is building a top-of-the-line staff, headed by Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.
–The Cincinnati Reds picked up one of the NL’s top lefty relievers, Sean Marshall, in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. The Reds gave up young left-handed starter Travis Wood, who became expendable once Mat Latos was acquired in the trade with the San Diego Padres last week.
–He’s getting old and seems to be injured quite often, but Casey Blake’s career is not over. The former Indians third baseman signed a one-year deal with the Colorado Rockies.
–Interested in the future of baseball? MLB Draft Insider recently ranked the top 12 high school position players to watch in 2012.
–Indians pitcher Nick Hagadone is one of four pitchers, at the moment, who will be competing in spring training for two open spots in the Tribe’s bullpen for 2012.