Indians sign Carson, Hunter to Minor League deals
Seeking new left fielder, Cleveland bolsters depth with pair of outfielders
CLEVELAND -- The Indians' search for a new left fielder is ongoing, but that is not stopping the club from attempting to strengthen its depth behind the big league regulars.
On Monday, Cleveland announced that it has signed outfielders Matt Carson and Cedric Hunter to Minor League contracts. Both players also received non-roster invitations to attend Spring Training with the Major League club.
Carson and Hunter will likely come to camp as candidates for a bench job with the Tribe, but they are more likely destined to open the season as depth at Triple-A Columbus. As of now, the only certainty in Cleveland's outfield is that center fielder Michael Brantley will have a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Right fielder Shin-Soo Choo is under contract for one more season, but the Indians are open to listening to trade offers from other clubs. In left field -- a revolving door last season -- Cleveland has a short list of internal options, but no clear-cut favorite. Ezequiel Carrera, Russ Canzler and Thomas Neal are three in-house candidates.
The Indians have been exploring the possibilities on the free-agent market, though the cost of outfield help undoubtedly went up with the recent signing of Torii Hunter (two years, $26 million with Detroit) and the reported deal for Melky Cabrera (two years, $16 million with Toronto). Other free agents include Michael Bourn, B.J. Upton, Nick Swisher, Shane Victorino, Delmon Young and Cody Ross, among others.
The Tribe has been linked to Victorino in reports and has also shown interest in Jason Bay.
Carson, 31, will be entering his 12th professional season and has had previous stints in the Yankees, A's, Rays and Twins organizations. Last season, he spent the bulk of the season with Triple-A Rochester (Minnesota), hitting .282 with 14 homers, 28 doubles, 53 RBIs and a .347 on-base percentage in 115 games.
Over parts of three stops in the big leagues, between tours with the A's and Twins, the right-handed-hitting Carson has posted a .211 average in 72 games. In 26 games for Minnesota last year, he hit .227 (15-for-66) with four RBIs. Most of Carson's experience is in right field, though he has also played center and left in his career.
The 24-year-old Hunter joins the Indians after spending most of last season in St. Louis' system. In 129 games with Triple-A Memphis last year, the lefty-hitting Hunter posted a .268 average with five homers, 19 doubles, 44 RBIs and a .355 on-base percentage. He was claimed off waivers by the A's last offseason, but was traded to the Cardinals on April 4.
Hunter, who has seven years of experience with the Padres and Cardinals organizations, went 1-for-4 in a six-game stint with San Diego in 2011. He is a center fielder by trade, but has experience in the corner outfield spots as well.