Duncan, Kearns signed to Minors deals

From the “shot in the dark” department, the Indians signed OF/1B Shelley Duncan and OF Austin Kearns to Minor League deals with Spring Training invites.

You can find Duncan’s bio here and Kearns’ here.

So where do these guys fit into the Spring Training picture?

Well, with Matt LaPorta working his way back from hip and toe surgeries, the Indians are trying to protect themselves at first base and in the outfield. Duncan can bounce between the corner outfield spots and first base, and he has a strong track record against left-handed pitching.

Even if LaPorta is good to go (and he’s said to be progressing well in rehab), the Tribe might carry an extra right-handed bat for first base and/or the outfield. Duncan, Jordan Brown and Andy Marte are all in that mix.

As for Kearns, he’ll compete to be the fourth outfielder, and it’s also not out of the realm of possibility that he’ll compete to be the regular in left. While a healthy LaPorta seems to be guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster, I’m not sure the same guarantee is there for Michael Brantley.

Kearns was once a breakout player in the making in Cincinnati, but his career never really took off, and he’s coming off two abysmal seasons in Washington. Manny Acta, obviously, is familiar with Kearns and recommended the Indians take a look at him.

Again, though, these are shots in the dark on the part of the Tribe. But at least it breaks up the monotony a little bit. 

9 Comments

Yeah, actually, the more I think about it, the more I like these moves. I mean, obviously there’s the low risk factor, but I think most of us keep assuming our outfield will be Choo, Sizemore, and Brantley, but that ignores the fact that Brantley is a rookie and, heck, Sizemore’s coming off of surgery. Having more outfield options is probably a good idea.
That said, I think most of us also prefer to look at it as if our plans will actually work out, and neither of these guys will be needed (and Brantley will be hitting lead off by mid-season).

The Duncan signing is alright with me, and I guess I am indifferent about Kearns. I have stated that I am in favor of not really signing anyone, and letting our young players get more time. But like you pointed out, LACF, almost every player experiences a slump in their second year, and LaPorta and Sizemore are coming off injuries. At the same time, Kearns’ numbers are bad. Like… really bad. The guy batted .195 with 3 homers and 17 RBIs in 80 games last year. But you never know, and there is no harm in giving a shot I suppose.

Too bad we couldn’t sign Holliday to a minor league deal. He seems like a decent right-handed bat.

I am completely fine with these minor league deals. Maybe the front office learned something from the Dellucci and Michaels deals of the past, and come up with a much better alternative.

Low risk high reward signings. Sure these are names that won’t jump off the page but hopefully one of these players will make the ballclub out of spring training.

Like pigeon, I’m not sure why they’d bother with Kearns. He’s been bad enough for so long that I’m not sure what they could possibly expect to find there. And they have plenty of options for 4th outfielders already. Actually isn’t that pretty much guaranteed to go to Crowe? Duncan at least makes some sense. His numbers against lefties have been decent, and he hasn’t really had enough experience in the majors to know for sure what he can do. As far as keeping an extra right handed bat goes, since Jordan Brown is left handed I wouldn’t think he’d be in that mix

Go Cleveland Nationals! First Manny. Then Saul Rivera. Now Kearns. Who’s next?? Livan Hernandez? Ray King?? Brian Schnieder???

I don’t mind the Kearns signing at all. Ryan Ludwick didn’t have his break out season until age 29 owing to a series of nagging injuries that retarded his development. It’s not unreasonable to hope for a similar trajectory for Kearns and, as has been mentioned, without any substantial risk involved on the part of the Indians.

The one risk I see involved is that Kearns has a great spring training and they give him the starting job over Brantley and then he hits .200 for a month before they decided to go a different direction. We’ve seen that before when Jason Michaels inexplicably made the team over Ben Francisco. Crowe, Brantley, Brown and technically Laporta are all options for the final spot in the OF already. If they decided not to go with Brantley, I’d rather see an outfield of Sizemore, Choo Laporta with Brown at 1b, or Brown in the outfield and Laporta at 1b, than to have Kearns involved in any way.

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