The Indians looked like they could have been ready to make a couple of roster moves last week with Abraham Almonte hurting his shoulder/biceps and Michael Brantley spraining his ankle, but the two roster moves made on Sunday had nothing to do with the injured players, both of whom were back in the lineup by Saturday.
Instead, Brandon Guyer will be heading to the 10 Day DL with an injured left wrist. At the same time, Michael Martinez was designated for assignment to make room for Erik Gonzalez. Daniel Robertson, recently recovered from his own stint to the DL, was also called up from AAA Columbus.
Robertson for Guyer was the more simple of the moves. With the Indians already having trouble against left handed pitchers, adding Tyler Naquin back to the roster wouldn’t be much help given Guyer’s role as a nearly pure platoon player against lefties. While Robertson hasn’t been too successful in the past in the Majors, he’s been hot since coming back to the Clippers, hitting .467/.600/.533 through 20 plate appearances and is proficient in center, right, left and second base. This essentially makes him a significantly better utility man than Martinez, although his current role is likely to be a right handed platoon bat.
The move to replace Martinez with Gonzalez was a little more surprising, but just as necessary. With the Indians ranked 18th in baseball offensively with a 95 wRC+, they simply couldn’t afford to have one of the worst hitters in baseball history. While Terry Francona has always shown undue favoritism towards Martinez given his level of talent, even he has been keeping Martinez on the bench. He’s had just seven plate appearances in the Indians last 17 games and in seven of Martinez’s 15 games he’s been used either as only a defensive replacement or pinch runner without appearing at the plate. There are hundreds of players around the league who could be utility men of this type including both Robertson and Gonzalez.
Over the long term, it’s likely that we could see Robertson stay with the team in the utility man role and Gonzalez head back to AAA once Guyer or Austin Jackson return. With Yandy Diaz already on roster, the Indians have easy defensive replacements for the entire team and better offensive pinch hit options than Martinez.
For those interested in numerology, Robertson will wear #99 making him the first player in Indians history to don the highest two digit numeral.