The Indians have made two moves recently that would qualify as going under the radar. The first was signing RHP Justin Grimm to a minor league contract and the second was acquiring C Kevin Plawecki from the New York Mets. Neither of these moves would get too many people excited, but they can pay high dividends during the season.
Justin Grimm split the 2018 season between the Kansas City Royals and the Seattle Mariners. In only 17.1 innings pitched, he had an ERA of 10.38, walking 14 batters and only striking out 11. He dealt with a back injury which kept him out for a few stints on the DL. Looking at his 2016 and 2017, his numbers were not much better as he posted ERAs of 4.10 and 5.53 respectively. Coming to the Indians may be his last opportunity to play in the major leagues.
For the Indians, this is a classic low risk, high reward move. They did not sign Grimm to a lot of money so if he stinks in spring training they can release him with no issues. However, if he does do well in spring training, he can be a valuable arm in a bullpen that struggled last season.
The other move had the Indians trade away RHP Walter Lockett and INF Sam Haggerty to the New York Mets for catcher Kevin Plawecki. Plawecki played for the Mets for parts of four seasons batting .218 with 14 home runs and 75 RBI. He was made expendable when the Mets signed catcher Wilson Ramos during the off-season to pair with catcher Travis d’Arnaud.
A lot has been made this off-season that the Indians were short on catchers in their system after trading away Francisco Mejia during the season and Yan Gomes after the season. Acquiring Plawecki to go with fellow catchers Roberto Perez and Eric Haase has already helped the Indians’ depth.
Much like the Grimm move, trading for Plawecki has a low level of risk as the two prospects traded away were low-level prospects. Plawecki is three years younger than Perez and his earliest year that he can become a free agent is 2023. The Mets had played Plawecki at first base a few times and that could help the Indians bench options.
Indians fans, these are the types of moves you should get used to. In the past, some moves like these have worked well, like when the Indians signed OFs Rajai Davis or Melky Cabrera. Let us hope that these moves will have us cheering come October.