CLEVELAND -- The Indians ended the season without a defined closer in their bullpen and it could be months before the club has clarity for that role on the roster.
Chris Perez lost his job as Cleveland's closer on the final weekend of the regular season after experiencing struggles on the mound for the better part of two months. This winter, the two-time All-Star is eligible for arbitration for the final time, and his potential salary complicates his situation further heading into the 2014 season.
Perez, who earned $7.3 million through arbitration last offseason, could be in line for a salary around $8-10 million for 2014. That being the case, the 28-year-old right-hander would appear to be a prime trade or non-tender candidate this offseason.
In 54 games this season, Perez posted a 4.33 ERA with 25 saves in 30 chances and 54 strikeouts in 54 innings for the Indians. Between Aug. 1 and the end of the season, though, Perez turned in a bloated 7.52 ERA, allowing six runs in his final two appearances prior to losing the closer's job.
Francona announces coaching realignment
CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona is going to have his old friend at his side in the dugout next season.
In a sit-down with local media on Monday, Francona announced a realignment for his 2014 coaching staff, which will include moving Brad Mills to the bench coach role after working as the third-base coach this past season. Sandy Alomar Jr. will shift from the bench coach job to first-base coaching duties, while Mike Sarbaugh will move across the diamond from first-base coach to third-base coach.
Hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo, pitching coach Mickey Callaway and bullpen coach Kevin Cash will return in their same roles.
"We'll try to use our guys' strengths more," Francona explained. "Now, again, if somebody gets a managing job, we may have to make a change. The hope is, when you hire good people, you know at some point you'll lose them."
Francona was hinting at the fact that Alomar -- interviewed by the Cubs and Blue Jays in previous years as a managerial candidate -- has been linked to the Cubs again in their search for a new manager. Indians general manager Chris Antonetti declined comment when asked if Chicago had requested permission to interview Alomar for the vacancy.
Mills was Francona's bench coach during their days with the Red Sox, but their history extends well before Boston. Francona and Mills were teammates at University of Arizona and again in the Majors with the Montreal Expos. When Francona worked as the Phillies manager, Mills was his first-base coach.
Sarbaugh coached third base throughout his time in Cleveland's Minor League ranks. The Indians manager was also quick to note the move from the bench to first base was not a demotion for Alomar, who was retained as the bench coach in 2013 after filling the same role for former Indians manager Manny Acta in 2012.
"Sandy's passion, a lot of it, is being what a first-base coach does," Francona said. "I didn't ever want it to be a demotion, so we walked through that. Actually, we walked through it last year, but I didn't want to do it, and he was more than willing at the time. But I just didn't want it to appear like a demotion, because it's not."
Indians waiting on contract decision from Jimenez
CLEVELAND -- The Indians are likely expecting Ubaldo Jimenez to hit the free-agent market this offseason, but the pitcher has yet to take an important step in that regard.
As of Monday, Jimenez had not voided the $8 million club option for 2014 that was included in his original contract with the Rockies. According to Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti, the language of the contract permitted Jimenez to void that option in the event that he was traded.
The Indians acquired Jimenez from the Rockies via trade prior to the July 31 Trade Deadline in 2011.
"Technically, right now, it's still a club option," Antonetti explained. "At the time he was traded, he had the option to void it."
Antonetti noted that there is no specific deadline for Jimenez to void the option, which can be viewed as affordable in light of the season the pitcher just pieced together. After going 9-17 with a 5.40 ERA in 2012, the right-hander bounced back in a big way, posting a 13-9 record with a 3.30 ERA and 194 strikeouts across 182 2/3 innings for the Indians.
If Jimenez does void the option as anticipated, Cleveland could then offer him a one-year qualifying offer (estimated to be in the neighborhood of $14 million) five days after the World Series ends. If Jimenez were to decline that offer, the Indians would secure a compensatory pick in the June First-Year Player Draft next year.
• The Indians spent more than $100 million last winter in an effort to reel in some top free agents. Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said it was too early in the offseason right now to say specifically what kind of payroll or financial resources will be available for this winter.
• Indians first baseman Nick Swisher, who signed a four-year contract worth $56 million with Cleveland last offseason, played through left shoulder soreness for much of the 2013 season. On Monday, Antonetti said "all indications" are that Swisher does not require surgery and that the first baseman should be back at full strength for next season.
• Veteran Jason Giambi (eligible for free agency this winter) has expressed a desire to play again in 2014, which would be his 20th season in the Majors. Both Antonetti and manager Terry Francona said Monday that the Indians have mutual interest in retaining the 42-year-old Giambi as a part-time designated hitter, pinch-hitter and clubhouse leader.
• The Indians sent left-hander Clay Rapada outright to Triple-A Columbus on Monday, though the reliever is eligible to seek Minor League free agency instead of accepting the assignment. Cleveland designated Rapada for assignment on Wednesday after claiming righty Tyler Cloyd off waivers from Philadelphia.